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Published: Friday, 6/8/2007

Owens to offer motorcycle safety classes


Some adults at Owens Community College will spend the summer learning to ride a bike all over again. This time, they play with a much bigger and potentially more dangerous toy.

Owens Community College Workforce and Community Services received a $270,500 grant from Motorcycle Ohio to establish a Motorcycle Safety Training program in northwest Ohio.

The three-day program, scheduled to begin in July, is unique in Wood County. Throughout Ohio, 15 permanent training locations and one mobile program are offered.

The Motorcycle Safety Training Program provides classroom and riding instruction to riders, covering limited-space maneuvers, lane changes, and avoiding hazards, among other topics.

"Being that it's summer now, and with all of our country roads, there are definitely a high number of accidents and fatalities," Brad Meyer, a spokesman at Owens, said.

Rhonda Hogrefe, the college's motorcycle training program coordinator, said Owens is one of only three organizations offering the program in northwest Ohio. She said she expects more than 2,000 riders to take the class within the next three years.

Michael Bankey, Owens vice president of workforce and community services, said there is great demand for the program. "We hope that everything we do here is a reflection of the needs of the community," he said. "There are individuals on the waiting list every year."

Owens received the grant on Feb. 2. Ms. Hogrefe, who is also the Owens Continuing Education and Community Service account representative, said the application was intensive because each training site requires vast financial support, restricting the number of programs the state can afford to sponsor.

When Motorcycle Ohio studied which counties would benefit most from the grant, Wood County was one of the top areas not getting adequate motorcycle safety service, Ms. Hogrefe said.

The program costs $25 for adults and is free for individuals under 18 years of age. Legal riders from any state can apply, though space is limited to 12 riders per class.

Ms. Hogrefe said many other states have organizations similar to Motorcycle Ohio, though some others aren't state-endorsed. In those states, riders often may take private safety classes.

This year, the program begins July 5 and will run weekly until Oct. 30.

In 2008 and 2009, the course will start on March 1.

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