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I just posted a review with pictures and links over at my motorcycles and mysteries blog. To read the article BikeSafeNC review, click here or just read scan below.

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Hendersonville, NC
– My wife and I spent the morning watching videos of horrible bike accidents, then we went for a motorcycle ride closely followed by a motor officer. We had lunch at a local hot spot. In the afternoon, we looked at pictures of horrible bike accidents, then went for another ride while a motor officer watched us like a hawk. Does that sound like a nightmare scenario? It was actually a very productive day—at least in terms of learning a defensive driver mindset and in having our skills evaluated by a highly trained, professional motorcycle driver.

The one day program is called BikeSafeNC. Based on a British model, the program revolves around a combination of classroom lectures on defensive driving, plus observed rides and focused feedback by experienced motor officers.

The morning lectures include the Top Ten Keys to Safe Riding and identified common riding hazards such as:

Junctions
Intersections
Curves
Hill crests
Position or movements of other road users
Variation in road surface, weather and visibility

Pretty obvious stuff, right?

Sadly, as seen by actual crash footage from traffic cameras, dash cams and security footage, some people aren’t getting the message. We watched as one young rider pulled out to pass a line of fellow bikers and slammed head on into an oncoming car. We saw accident reconstruction photos of a rider who apparently panicked in a very gentle curve and slammed his bike into a light pole. He and his passenger were killed instantly. We watched as a rider crashed head on into a left-turning car. Another example of blind and stupid cage driver killing a biker? Hardly. Class participants estimated the biker’s speed at 70 mph in a 35 zone, and he was accelerating!

On the first observed ride, we got bonus points for taking the class two up. Apparently, this is unusual. However, while I got praise for situational awareness and bike handling, our instructor said we would be safer to get out of the middle of the road and to stop riding over manhole covers. Manhole covers a road hazard? Who knew? Apparently, the darned things come loose sometimes and a big touring bike is just the ticket for making one flip up causing an instant stoppie! The afternoon classroom session included information about lane position that I had never heard explained so clearly before.

North Carolina motor officers are taught there are three lane positions: left, center and right, or what they call lane positions one, two and three. I like being in the center of the road--lane position two. I feel it gives me a nice cushion. However, as my instructor pointed out, the center of the lane is also where all that car oil and radiator fluid drips down and all the rocks, nails and screws migrate. Sure, you can ride a long time in lane position two, but it is safer to play the averages and pick the left or right lane position.

The afternoon classroom session covered lane positions in detail and made a case for choosing the safest lane position for any give situation. If you see someone on your right who looks like they want to pull out—why not move left to lane position one and give yourself a little cushion? Someone driving towards you with a cell phone in his ear—why not use your whole lane and move right to lane position three?

The second observed ride was a joy. We got out of the city and found some delightful country roads with rolling hills, bridges and fun combination curves. While my instructor liked that I was avoiding road hazards and using all three lane positions, I got dinged again for defaulting back to the middle of my lane.

Overall

The classroom lectures were educational and focused on defensive mindset and building a system of awareness and control. The videos and photos were graphic and definitely got your attention. However, for me, getting feedback from a highly trained, experienced and professional motorcycle driver was the most valuable part of the class.

If you are a careful rider, you are probably already doing everything you know to be safer. At the same time, there is a good chance you are doing some things wrong. Perhaps taking risks you never even heard about, or doing things out of habit that could be putting you and your precious cargo at risk. These are things you will never learn about on your own. However, an experienced professional will spot them in just a few minutes of riding. How do you beat that—especially when the class, and the professional critique are free?

I highly recommend you attend a BikeSafeNC rider skills day. These folks have been producing positive, measurable safety improvements since 2007.
 
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