Secretary of State Ruth Johnson addresses trends and concerns for 'boomers' on bikes (5-22)

Motorcycle SafetyMAY 2, 2018

Returning riders are encouraged to take a class for safety

Noting their disproportionate involvement in crashes, Secretary of State Ruth Johnson today encouraged baby boomers who ride a motorcycle or are thinking about it to take a returning-rider safety course, even if they rode in their younger days.

“Riders in their 50s and 60s who are getting back into motorcycling are strongly encouraged to take one of the rider education refresher courses we offer,” Johnson said. “People joke about never forgetting how to ride a bike, but operating a motorcycle is different. It requires constant practice to develop the judgment and skills necessary to identify and avoid hazardous situations on the road.”

Boomers interested in refreshing their riding skills should look into the department’s Returning Rider Basic Rider Course and the Advanced Rider Course. The department also offers a class for three-wheeled motorcycles, and a Basic Rider Course designed for those who are new to or wish to review the fundamentals of motorcycling.

Johnson noted that male motorcycle riders aged 50-69 were involved in 34.1 percent of all two-vehicle crashes involving a motorcycle and 33.6 percent of all single-vehicle crashes (crashes just involving the motorcyclist). Female riders aged 40-59 are at the greatest risk of being involved in either a multiple vehicle or single vehicle crash.

“Our goal is to keep everyone safe on the road,” she added. “Motorcyclists should take a rider education safety course, always wear the proper gear and make sure they have the motorcycle endorsement before they ride.”

Johnson made her remarks at a news conference to kick off May as Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month. Johnson, on a 1200 cc Harley-Davidson Sportster, rode to the news conference with a group of riders, starting from Detroit Iron Cycles, 10325 Highland Road, White Lake, and arriving at ABC Harley-Davidson. Speakers at the event were Gary Krupa, general manager at ABC Harley-Davidson; Sgt. Steve Borello, Motorcycle Squad, Special Enforcement Section, Michigan State Police; Eric Larson, Michigan state director for the Gold Wing Touring Association, and Vince Consiglio, a Motorcycle Safety Foundation RiderCoach and coordinator for the motorcycle safety program at Schoolcraft College in Livonia.

The month-long motorcycle awareness campaign will promote the importance of taking motorcycle rider safety training, having a motorcycle endorsement, wearing high visibility gear and encouraging motorists to share the road with cyclists.

Some baby boomers are finding trikes and other three-wheeled vehicles to be a good fit. Because of their configuration, operators need to be aware that these vehicles steer, turn, stop and handle hills differently than motorcycles. Under certain conditions and speeds, they may tip over or lift wheels off the ground. Understanding the dynamics of these vehicles and the correct way to handle them is necessary for safe operation.

The Michigan Rider Education Program first offered a three-wheeled vehicle safety course through a public sponsor in 2015. This year, in a pilot program with Can-Am, 12 Can-Am Spyders have been loaned to three-wheeled vehicle rider education courses at Grand Rapids Community College and Schoolcraft College. Three-wheeled vehicle safety courses are also available through select private sponsors listed on the Michigan Rider Education Program training locator Web page.

“Three-wheeled vehicles offer another exciting possibility for riders,” Johnson said. “But whether you are on two wheels or three, the most important thing you can do is make sure you have the skills and training required to ride safely.”

Visit for a list of motorcycle safety training programs across the state. To learn more about motorcycling and the Michigan Rider Education Program, go to

More information about motorcycling in Michigan is available on the Motorcycle Fact Sheet.


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