Riders take to the road

Motorcycles await their operators shortly before tackling  the riding course at a motorcycle safety training course at Joint Base Andrews, Md., on March 15, 2012.  The course is required for motorcyclists who ride on base.  To sign up for the course, log on to https://militarysafepmv.com.  (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Torey Griffith)(released)

Schriever motorcycle riders are encouraged to keep safety in mind every time they ride. (U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman Torey Griffith).

SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. -- Spring has sprung and, for motorcycle riders, this is the time of year you have longed for all winter. With warm weather comes the desire to get on the open road and experience the freedom and excitement that riding a motorcycle brings to so many. At the same time, however, this also brings some risks that every rider must remember, in particular, riding a motorcycle that has been idle during the winter months.

First and foremost, before taking that first spring ride, remember to inspect your bike. A simple mental checklist to run is T-CLOCS:

· T - Tires and wheels - condition of rims and tires, air pressure, tread
· C - Controls - shifter, cables, lines/hoses, throttle, brake function
· L - Lights - battery condition, head/brake/tail lights, turn signals
· O - Oil - levels, leaks
· C - Chassis - frame, suspension, chain/belt, fasteners
· S - Stands - center and side stands

In addition to inspecting your bike, make sure you inspect your personal protective equipment. Make sure your helmet is not cracked or terribly scratched and check the condition of your gloves and riding goggles.

Next, make sure you take the time to freshen up your riding skills by sticking close to your neighborhood and avoiding highly congested areas until you are ready. Most riders will say that it is important to get a "feel" for your bike when you purchase a new one, the same holds true for those who go several months without riding the one you already own.

Consider the road conditions of your local community and your commute to work. During the winter months, many roads are covered with gravel to improve driving conditions through ice and snow. After the snow melts, gravel stays there until it is cleaned away by street sweepers or a nice rain. Before riding, make sure you are aware of your surroundings, especially in intersections. In addition, consider that nice roads you traversed before winter may not be in the same condition due to new pot holes, etc.

Finally, before you begin your riding season, make the pledge that you will always use proper risk management before every single trip. In addition to checking your bike, skills and road conditions, check yourself. Ask, "Do I need additional training, have I been drinking, have I had the proper amount of sleep, etc.?" You are responsible for your own safety so make the right decisions. This fiscal year, the Air Force has three members who have experienced permanent disabilities, and unfortunately, lost four motorcycle riders. The causes for these mishaps include excessive speed, lack of experience, lack of training and alcohol use. Do not let this be you.

At Schriever, many have already started riding their motorcycles to work. As the weather gets even better and gas prices continue to go up, more and more riders will be out on the road. For those of us who drive four-wheeled vehicles and share the road with our motorcycle comrades, we have to remember to take safety precautions ourselves, for our sake and theirs. Be aware of your surroundings. When going through an intersection, look left, right then both ways again. Motorcycle riders can be seen; you just have to look.

IAW AFI 91-207, motorcycle riders on AF Installations will wear:
-Department of Transportation approved helmet
-Goggles, wrap-around glasses, or a full-face shield
-Long-sleeve shirt; long trousers; full fingered gloves; sturdy, over-the-ankle footwear
-During the day, outer upper garment that has high-visibility colors
-During the night, outer upper garment that is retro-refelective
This also applies to active-duty on or off-duty, on or off base, 24/7

IAW AFI 91-207, the following applies to active duty military:
-Must complete Motorcycle Safety Foundation Basic Rider Course before ever riding a motorcycle. This is reimbursable through the 50th Space Wing Safety Office.
-Must inform unit commander of riding status
-Must receive initial and pre-season/annual briefing from commander or motorcycle safety representative.