|ONLINE EXCLUSIVE: As gas prices rise, motorcyle and bicycle use increases|
|Written by Lee Strubinger, Daily Vidette Reporter|
|Wednesday, 11 April 2012 11:10|
Motorcycles have been a part of American history and culture ever since the glorification of biker gangs in movies and Hunter S. Thompson’s “Hell’s Angels.” Now, motorcycles might be a more efficient way for students to go from point A to point B in style.
Illinois State University offers a motorcycle-training program. It is one of the four universities’ in this state that train a particular region.
“There has been a steady increase in interest in the past couple decades,” Raymond Mucha, ISU motorcycle safety director, said. “Gas prices go up, and people realize they get better mileage, so people want a motorcycle.”
“[The course] is made for somebody who lives in Illinois, has a drivers license or permit and knows how to ride a bicycle,” Mucha said.
The motorcycle safety course takes a total of 20 hours to complete. A third of that is class time and the rest is riding a motorcycle. According to Mucha, the course begins with baby steps on how to operate a motorcycle, until the student’s confidence builds, then they move forward. Upon completion of the course, after a written test and riding skills test, the student will receive a card in the mail, which they can take to the Secretary of State’s office. From there, the student is allowed to get their license without having to take any tests there.
“We have about 300 motorcycles. They are all 250cc or less and 99 percent of our motorcycles are above 175cc,” Mucha said. “The important thing there is that lets the student get their ‘M’ classification, which means they can ride any motorcycle with their driver’s license. They are all small engines, and they all work great with novices.”
“We have the training range on Gregory Street, just west of the golf course,” Mucha continued. “We have been training there since 1976, that was our first year.”
The motorcycle course is $20, but at the end of the course it is refundable, which ultimately makes it free. There are very few states that have free training left, Mucha said.
“My reason’s for riding [a bicycle], it’s easier, it’s quicker,” Pat Boylan, senior sociology major, said. “It’s more practical. From my place, it would be a 20-minute walk. I bike because it is fit for me.”
“I am not planning on buying a car when I move up to the city. I plan on riding my bike everywhere, and I’ll do public transportation,” Boylan said. “People’s consciousness needs to be raised when it comes to stuff like that. They just don’t get it, or they’re too stubborn to change. It is soon going to be a problem where people are going to have to change, and it’s going to be ‘nobody’s fault.’ I am interested to see how that shift happens.”
Boylan plans on getting his motorcycle license here at ISU. His reasoning for this is because it is free and that motorcycle’s are more economical than a car.
“I would definitely buy a motorcycle before buying a car,” Boylan said. “You can drive to Chicago on one tank of fuel, which is like four gallons. Compared to a car, that is super cheap.”
For more information about the motorcycle safety course, go to motorcyclesafety.illinoisstate.edu.