Illinois State Police Begin
Carlton R. Marcyan
During the past several years Top Cats – Illinois has been cultivating a strong relationship with the motor officers of the state police. Sergeant Rich and Troopers Liz and Ben have presented at our general meetings several times with each more interesting than the last. One topic always discussed is the introduction of a motorcycle safety program that doubles as a community outreach to motorcylclists.
BikeSafe is traffic safety initiative to reduce crashes and fatalities for motorcyclists. It is also a partnership between the Illinois State Police and other local police departments. It is a proactive approach to engage motorcyclists before they do something unsafe and to partner them with a motor officer for the purpose of an assessment of their existing skills. The program actually began in the UK and is well received by its biking community. North Carolina brought it over the Atlantic; Illinois and some additional states are now adopting it.
Although there has been some delay commencing the program, it was finally launched with a “dry-run” a few weeks ago at the DesPlaines located Chicago area, state police HQ. Trooper Liz Diaz was the classroom instructor for this all-day program that covered practical tips for better and safer motorcycling.
The program is not limited to lectures as it includes shocking videos of motorcycle mishaps and yes, fatalities. These “drive home” why we must ride alertly and aware of surroundings and other vehicles. An additional and major feature of BikeSafe is that it is not limited to the indoors but includes “on the road” segments with troopers. The morning road session is about an hour in duration, and the afternoon about an hour and one-half. Both are followed with critiques by at least two troopers who do not pull punches.
My biggest “take-away” from the program is that you must make sure, when slowing or stopping, to constantly check the mirrors for vehicles approaching from the rear. A large percentage of motorcycle mishaps are directly due to vehicles plowing into you from behind. Another caveat, make sure, if you participate in the training, that your bike is street legal and properly working, including brake and turn lights. Although not discussed, do not attend if you have any warrants out for your arrest as, I am sure, there is a background check on all participants!