University offers free motorcycle safety course, waives motorcycle licensing fee

By Jessica Berbey , Contributing Writer

Riding a motorcycle or moped to class can be more efficient than driving.

“It doesn’t take as much gasoline as a car and parking is easier to find,” said Kelly Maday, a freshman in AHS.

In Illinois, motorcycle licenses only cost 10 dollars. However, University students can take a class to obtain the license for free.

A motorcycle riding program is offered to students and faculty at the University. The Cycle Riding Safety Training Program was founded in 1976 and has been growing in attendees over the years.

According to the Safety Training website, the University alone has taught over 53,484 students since 1977.

The program is also taught at Northern Illinois University, Harper College and Southern Illinois University. It offers courses for all levels of experience.

Erik Hanks, the project coordinator for the University’s motorcycle rider program, said that the University offers around 400 to 500 classes a year.

“The basic course is a 20-hour curriculum course meant for people who have never ridden a motorcycle,” Hanks said. “At the end of the course, if you’re 18 or older, you receive a completion card to take to the Secretary of State office, and that waives all licensing fees.”

Hanks said the program is funded by motorcyclists. He said that 27 percent of a motorcyclist’s license plate registration fee goes to the program, as does five dollars from motorcyclist license renewals.

Because the course is sponsored by the provisions of the Illinois Cycle Rider Safety Training program, it is a free course — everything is provided.

Hanks said attendees are just responsible for signing up and showing up wearing the proper attire.

“We operate a 1.5 million dollar grant per year, in which we are responsible for motorcycle safety training in a 38-county-area from east central Illinois to west central Illinois,” Hanks said.

Though the program has been around for 40 years, not many people know about it.

“Because the program is free, there isn’t a lot of money in our budget for promotion. Our best way of advertisement is word-of-mouth,” Hanks said.

Hanks wants to spread awareness for the program because he believes that motorcycle safety is important.

Jay Heininger, a freshman in LAS, said he had never heard of the program, but that he feels safe driving around campus regardless.

“Most cars yield for us,” he said, “It helps me get where I need to go faster.”

Heininger also said that he is satisfied with the way the University deals with motorcyclists, and that his one complaint is that he wishes there was more motorcycle parking.

Maday said that having a moped on campus is really convenient, especially when classes are farther away. Unlike Heininger, she thinks that there is a lot of parking and says that when compared to her friends who drive cars, mopeds are safer and easier to drive.

“You don’t get distracted as easily on a moped,” Maday said. “Unlike a car, you don’t have a radio to keep changing stations, so you’re more focused on driving.”

Hanks would like to spread awareness for the program.

“I want people to know that it is a free program, and that it is not only offered in the Champaign county,” he said.

Hanks also said that they are always looking for instructors and that the only prerequisite is to have taken the basic-level class.

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