There are a lot of reasons why people like riding motorcycles. For some, it’s the sense of speed and freedom; for others, it might be the feel of the wind and the engine underneath; for some people, it might just be practical considerations of money and space. Whatever the reason that brings someone to a motorcycle, Montgomery College offers a fast, easy and relatively cheap way of getting licensed to ride your own motorcycle thanks to their Motorcycle Safety Program.
New and experienced riders can earn their license from the Maryland Motor Vehicle Administration after just four days, two evening classes followed by two full-day weekend classes that conclude with the skill and written tests necessary to get approved to operate a motorcycle. Even if you don’t already own one, you can get certified using the program’s own motorcycles in anticipation of buying one of your own.
Motorcycles conjure up all kinds of images, most of them linked to the ideas of movement and independence. Grounding those images in practical and safe instructions on motorcycle riding makes up the bedrock of the program, which unsurprisingly has become very popular very quickly.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, in 2010 there were more than 81,000 motorcycles registered in Maryland and D.C. and the numbers continue to grow. The program at Montgomery College is open to anyone who wants to register but since the classes are kept deliberately small, demand quickly outstrips the available number of classes and those wanting to take part may have to act quite fast.
The students can cover a wide spectrum of types and interests. A recent class contained a sports car racer, a radio DJ and even a mother with her two high-school age sons all looking to earn their right to head down the road astride their own motorcycles and all assiduously learning from the friendly instructors, noticeably enthusiastic about motorcycles themselves.
It’s understandable that some might be concerned over the brevity of the class. Motorcycle riders, even if driving as safely as possible, are still more at risk to fatal injuries than car drivers due to the exposed nature of a motorcycle and rider. In 2011 there were 4,612 motorcyclist deaths in the U.S. according to the National Traffic Highway Safety Administration.
It’s why safety is emphasized so much in every part of the program. The required equipment before you can even begin the class, the repeated safety admonitions at every point in the classroom work and the skills classes on the range all come together in the final test to hammer home firmly that safety should be at the forefront of every decision made before and during a ride.
But with all the lessons in mind and the eyes of the officials upon them, most of the students in each class can expect to pass and look forward to swinging astride their own motorcycles and riding off into the sunset, with the proper lights and reflective strips on their clothing of course.