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It’s more than just the wind in your hair

Learning motorcycle safety

Published: Monday, Aug. 18, 2014 3:20 p.m. CDT • Updated: Monday, Aug. 18, 2014 5:02 p.m. CDT
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(Shaw Media Service photo/Ken Schroeder)
Tracy Daugherty puts students through their paces at the Motorcycle Safety Program behind JC Whitney's in LaSalle.
Caption
(Shaw Media Service photo/Ken Schroeder)
Jodi Wilson rides the course during the class. Motorcycles and helmets are furnished for students for the course.

LASALLE — Summer means motorcycles on Illinois roads and an increased awareness of bikes and cars sharing the roadway. For many people, seeing a motorcycle rumbling along the highway is an enticing vision, spurring thoughts of purchasing their own motorcycle. The problem for many is learning to ride them.

That’s where Tracy Daugherty of Lostant comes in.

Daugherty spends a few weekends each year helping new riders learn how to drive a motorcycle and refreshing them on the rules of the road where motorcycles are concerned. The Motorcycle Rider Program is sponsored by the Illinois Department of Transportation and offered locally through the University of Illinois. Daugherty is just one of several instructors for the local program.

“I started riding around high school, so it’s been 17 or 18 years,” Daugherty said. “I took the training course to teach about 11 years ago.”

Small engine motorcycles — usually 250 cc — and helmets are provided by the University of Illinois. A typical class locally is 12 riders, and the learning track is behind JC Whitney’s east of LaSalle. Two classes are run at a time, with one class starting the rules of the road instruction in a trailer on the lot while the other class learns how to drive a motorcycle before the classes switch places. The course costs $20, which is refundable at the end of the class. Classes are offered — depending on weather — from April to October.

When the course is completed, the students receive a waiver which will allow them to receive their license without taking the driving exam at the Driver’s License Bureau, although they still must pass the written test. The class can also be taken as a refresher course for people who have ridden in the past but whose skills may have gotten rusty.

“I took the class because other members of my family ride,” Jodi Wilson of Lostant said. “It just seemed like a good idea, so I could feel safer and more confident on a bike.”

Classes are still open. To enroll, go to http://www.mrp.uiuc.edu/howtoEnroll.aspx. Several locations are available throughout the state. The class is a great way to learn how to operate a motorcycle and see if riding one is right for you. No experience is necessary.

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