Naval Station (NAVSTA) Norfolk, with the support of the Norfolk Navy Exchange and the Sewells Point Safety Office, hosted the 3rd Annual Hampton Roads Military Motorcycle Safety Ride and Bike Show, May 3.
The 135-mile motorcycle ride provided an opportunity to ride with co-workers while promoting the safe operation of motorcycles in a group environment. The free event was open to all personnel with Department of Defense decals on their motorcycles and a current Motorcycle Safety Foundation Rider’s Safety Course card.
Guest Speaker, Rear Adm. Kenneth Norton, commander of Naval Safety Center, reminded participants to always take proper precautions before getting out on the road.
“Before you ride remember three E’s: equipment, environment, and ego,” he said. “Check that your motorcycle is operating up to standards, consider what environmental hazards you may endure such as heavy rain or crosswinds, and make sure to check your ego. Just because you are an experienced rider, does not mean you will not fall prey to the same mistakes as a rookie rider. These are lessons not only for today’s ride, but for every ride.”
Machinist Mate 1st Class David Kronberg, one of the event coordinators and participants, said events like these are critical to raise awareness of motorcycle safety especially with the impending warmer weather signifying the start of the riding season.
“Safety is critical for us as military members,” said Kronberg. “We strive to ensure our on-duty activities are safe and controlled through operational risk management and other safety mechanisms. However, when Sailors are off duty, they often act as if safety does not apply to them anymore. It is very important for them to remember that safety needs to be practiced around the clock, on and off duty.”
Prior to the ride, each participant conducted a pre-ride safety inspection of their motorcycle that included checking the frame, oil, lights, tires, and ensuring they had the required personal protective equipment (PPE). Required PPE for Navy motorcycle riders includes long-sleeve shirts, full-length pants, boots, full-finger gloves, shatter-proof eyewear, an approved helmet and a reflective vest.
Safety is one of the key areas of the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative, which consolidates a set of objectives and policies, new and existing, to maximize Sailor and Marine personal readiness, build resiliency and hone the most combat-effective force in the history of the Navy and Marine Corps.
Kronberg said there is usually a correlation between warmer weather and an increase in motorcycle accidents, but commands can do their part to keep their Sailors informed and safe.
“If supervisors and Sailors stay proactive about ensuring their motorcycle riders attend required training, and work to promote traffic safety in general, we can all have a safer driving experience,” said Kronberg.
Kronberg continued by saying Navy safety officials have found lack of training to be one of the leading causes of accidents. Even Sailors with proper training may still be a risk because they fail to exercise good judgment and ride beyond their skill level in a moment of adrenaline rush.
In addition to good judgment, Kronberg said it is imperative for motorcyclists to be on the lookout for potential hazards
“Being aware of potential hazards on the road ahead of them can allow for extra time and room to avoid those hazards,” said Kronberg. “One of the biggest hazards to a motorcycle rider is the distracted drivers around them, such as people texting and talking on their phones.”
Sailors who took part in the event said they enjoyed the opportunity to ride with other shipmates.
“The ride gave us a chance to get together and have fun with other riders from the area,” said Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Daniel Brightman, an avid motorcycle rider assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72). “We learned new skills and helped early riders by pointing potential problems they may have. It is important to me because I have the chance to police my shipmates and let them know if their bike is safe to ride.”
A bike show was held in the Navy Exchange parking lot following the conclusion of the ride. Food and motorcycle gear vendors were present and prizes were given for best sport bike, best cruiser, best custom job and people’s choice. USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) received a trophy for being the command with the most riders present.
Press Release, May 6, 2013; Image: Wikimedia