News: Formation riders observe safety
Story by Kristen Wong
MARINE CORPS BASE HAWAII - Motorcycle engines rumbled off base into the local community last week as 3rd Radio Battalion and Headquarters Battalion motorcyclists practiced their group riding skills, June 26 and 27, 2014.
Both units kicked off their first group rides of the year, with 3rd Radio Bn. riding down Pali Highway, H-1, along the beach and back, and the Headquarters Bn. Motorcycle Club making a round trip to Haleiwa, Hawaii.
“Particularly (with) motorcycles, once you come onto an issue, it’s already too late,” said rider Sgt. Jacob Richins, the team leader for the 3rd Radio Bn. Signals Intelligence Support Team during Exercise Rim of the Pacific. “Motorcycle preparation is 95 percent of safety. (The)
remaining five percent is luck. So it’s definitely in our best interest to be as prepared as possible.”
To further ensure safe riding, the Marine Corps Traffic Safety Program provides regulations in Marine Corps Order 5100.19F. All motorcyclists aboard Marine Corps Base Hawaii must also follow regulations in Base Order 5100.22B, which gives details about proper gear, registration and training.
One regulation requires all base units to have a Motorcycle Mentorship Program for their active-duty motorcyclists, like the Headquarters Bn. Motorcycle Club. Headquarters Bn. service members riding on base must annually attend at least four club meetings. Members of the unit who own and operate motorcycles solely off base are encouraged, though not required, to attend.
“It is important that these Marines participate in these meetings, not only for the riding skills they may learn but also for the monthly safety inspections on their motorcycles, and verification of legal riding status,” said Staff Sgt. Christopher Naff, the Marine Air-Ground Task Force Information Technology Support Centers Mid-Pacific base S-6 watch officer who currently leads the club.
Each meeting includes a group ride, which Naff said is beneficial because club members can identify and correct potentially dangerous riding habits among each other, as well as functional problems with individual motorcycles.
The group’s most recent ride alerted one Marine to electrical problems in his motorcycle.
“I feel (group rides) actually benefit the less-experienced rider (the most),” said rider Staff Sgt. Karl Hood, the internal controls chief at the Finance Office, and native of Frisco, Texas. “(Less-experienced riders can) learn different techniques like handling road debris.”
The nonprofit Motorcycle Safety Foundation has created a guide to encourage safe group rides. Marines from 3rd Radio Battalion attended an optional Group Rider Course with the Base Safety Directorate to learn these safety procedures.
“(Motorcycles are) a lot of fun,” Richins said. “As long as you have a good safety mind-set you’ll be able to enjoy your ride and have a good time.”
Richins has three years of riding experience in his hometown of Grover, Wyo., Monterey, Calif., and Hawaii. He said Hawaii provides a different experience because the roads are narrower and winding and have more traffic and inconsistent weather patterns.
When preparing for the group ride, MSF recommends each rider conduct a tires-controls-lights-oils-chassis-kickstand inspection, to ensure his or her motorcycle is fully functional and safe to ride. Riders can download the inspection form at www.mcbhawaii.marines.mil.
The MSF guide as well as Base Order 5100.22B lists personal protective equipment, which motorcyclists must wear both on and off base, including approved helmets fastened beneath the chin, appropriate eye protection like full-face shields, full-fingered gloves, long sleeves, pants and over-the-ankle footwear.
The MSF recommends designating a lead rider, who rides in front and directs the group. Mario di Prete, a Base Safety specialist, said the group can alternate leads during a single ride. One motorcyclist is usually designated the “sweeper,” who stays at the back of the group, and supports any members who have bike issues or are involved in an accident.
Because every group differs depending on the type of bike, di Prete recommends groups adjust procedures learned in class to suit their specific needs. For instance, MSF teaches various hand signals for the lead rider to use, but some groups may use alternative signals their group prefers.
“Be safe and have a good time,” di Prete said. “Take all that you’ve learned and apply it.”
Base Safety offers free motorcycle safety courses to active-duty service members, reservists, retirees and Department of Defense civilians. Depending on the type of motorcycle, MCB Hawaii active-duty and reserve riders must attend specific classes every three years, with command permission.
To request a unit GRC, call Base Safety at 257-1830. A schedule of upcoming classes is available at www.mcbhawaii.marines.mil/Departments/Safety.aspx. The next Headquarters Bn. Motorcycle Club meeting is July 25 at noon. For more information, email email@example.com.