This is a guest post by Scott Haas, Manager, Motorcycle Safety Training Program.
The Motorcycle Program at Harper has seen a number of changes since late 2019; some were welcome, some were not.
First the good. In late 2019, we hired a second Assistant Coordinator. Nicole Eret was chosen from a field of well-qualified individuals. She quickly learned the job duties and has become an invaluable asset to the program. She has been a rider coach, but the next big step in her professional development will be to become a Motorcycle Safety Foundation certified Rider Coach Trainer so she can train new instructors.
We also hired Brian Hamm to be our Field Operations Manager, the position I vacated after being hired as the Program Coordinator. Brian has also been a rider coach but also brought many years’ experience in fleet management and vehicle maintenance with him.
The big surprise of the year was having to cease operations before we had even finished the final preparations for training! Motorcycle classes were set to begin the weekend of March 21 and since that time, we have had to cancel 675 classes out of the nearly 800 we had scheduled. We recognize that many students had their class cancelled and that some have had that happen more than once. It is a frustrating situation for all of us, but the Motorcycle Safety Staff, Harper College and IDOT all recognize that our students’ and the instructional staff’s safety was our top priority.
Using CDC and IDPH guidelines, along with lessons we learned from other motorcycle programs that were in operation in other areas of the country, the Motorcycle Program staff drafted a thorough proposal for how we could conduct classes during the COVID-19 pandemic in as safe a manner as possible. That proposal was approved by the Harper College administration and IDOT. We also got the needed the approval from most of our training sites. To minimize the amount of time spent in a classroom we have adopted an online training module, for most classes, that eliminates the need for four of the hours we normally spend in the classroom.
We ran our first classes this past weekend, Sept. 5 and 6 at roughly half of our training sites, using a blended online/lecture/field experience format. Of the nine classes scheduled for the weekend, two did not run due to low student turnout. We assume that there is still a lot of uncertainty about coming together in groups. We want you to know that we are doing everything possible to create a safe learning environment for our students.
We learned a lot of lessons this year about things we never thought we’d have to do, but the Motorcycle Program staff really came through for our students by pulling together as a team to make things happen.
We’re all keeping our fingers crossed that the 2021 training season (which is still scheduled to start in March 2021) goes just a little smoother than this one did. In the mean time, I leave you with this important tip:
Riding a motorcycle, like driving a car, is mostly a mental activity. You must constantly search for and evaluate potential hazards as well as have more than one escape route to help stay safe on the streets.