Letter from the Editor: July/August 2007

Jul 14, 2007 View Comments by

Dear Reader,

Usually when you run into a state trooper, it’s about speeding. But not always. Meet Mark Brown, an avid motorcyclist, a North Carolina State Highway Patrolman, and the Training Coordinator for the North Carolina Special Operations Motor Unit. We first encountered Mark when he invited us to one of his training classes in Durham, NC. In his spare time, he and his team offer riders classes that enable them to improve their strategic skills – cornering, braking, precision – and off-road competence.

Now Mark is taking this concept a step further. Inspired by BikeSafe-London, a group of the Metropolitan Police Service of London, which achieved a 25 percent reduction in motorcycle crashes, he started a similar pilot program in North Carolina. The program combines classroom study in the morning and on-street practice in the afternoon, where students are accompanied and evaluated entirely by uniformed officers.

The principle is simple: prevention through education. This effort to improve safety for the motorcycle community deserves notice and appreciation. Mark and his colleagues are taking on the role of mentors in addition to that of enforcers.

We recently visited with another police officer, David Aldridge, in the small municipality of Morrisville, west of Raleigh, North Carolina. To meet and keep up with the law enforcement needs of their fast-growing town, leaders turned to David in 2003 and asked him to establish a motorcycle unit for the force. After some research, David found the right motorcycle for his unit – the BMW R1100RT-P. But he couldn’t endorse using the traditional motorcycle patrol uniform of horseback-riding boots, half helmets, and short-sleeved khaki shirts. After all, his primary goal was to minimize the potential risk to officers, especially during extreme situations, such as high-speed chases or riding in heavy traffic or adverse weather conditions. Thus, he opted to outfit his unit with full-face helmets and protective gear offering the highest level of personal protection possible while clearly defining unit members as officers of the law. The men and women who risk their lives in the line of duty on a daily basis deserve the best possible protection, and the new gear that David chose serves as an excellent example for the general public of proper riding equipment.

These two safety initiatives offer bonuses: lower operating costs, as motorcycles use less gas and fewer tires than four-wheeled vehicles, and smaller environmental footprint. We congratulate Mark and David for their ambitious endeavors, and we thank them for all they do to make our roads safer.

Ride Safe,

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