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We really don’t talk about marijuana enough on Asphalt & Rubber. With the drug gaining acceptance around the country as having legitimate medical uses, and stigmas about its recreational use changing, we are seeing numerous states re-evaluating their policies regarding marijuana.

With no empirical evidence to support this claim, we can only imagine though the number of motorcyclists riding while high on marijuana is increasing, an act that certainly isn’t a good idea, nor is it legal.

Hoping to educate motorcyclists to the dangers of mixing marijuana and motorcycles, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) has created the Riding Straight – Marijuana Awareness Host-An-Event Kit, which essentially uses a special set of goggles and several exercises that show how marijuana use affects a motorcyclist’s perception, awareness, and physical abilities.

Movements in how California teaches would-be motorcyclists how to ride their bikes could signal a greater change nationwide, after Total Control Training ousted the long-time running MSF Basic RiderCourse for California’s Motorcyclist Safety Program (CSMP).

Total Control Training will take over the CSMP from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) starting January 1, 2015. The class is administered by the California Highway Patrol, and is a major gateway for new riders in the Golden State — roughly 65,000 new motorcyclists take the CSMP each year, at 120 sites.

Total Control Training is so far the only riding program that meets the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Model National Standards for Entry-Level Motorcycle Rider Training, and the group has won contracts to train new riders in the military.

The Spanish-speaking community is increasingly becoming a part of the American motorcycling landscape; and according to the MSF, Hispanic riders already account for 7% of American motorcyclists…that’s almost as big of a piece of the pie as female riders (12% at last count).

To keep up with that trend, and to increase the adoption of safe motorcycle riding in America, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation has released its recently updated Basic RiderCourse handbook, as well as three “Quick-Tip” sheets, in Spanish.

These new materials compliments the already existing all-Spanish 15-hour hands-on Basic RiderCourse that the MSF teaches hundreds of times each year across the United States, with fluent Spanish-speaking MSF RiderCoaches.

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation announced today announced that it has officially recognized the Yamaha Champions Riding School, making it only the second third-party curriculum to receive this distinction by the MSF.

A hat-tip to the curriculum at YCRS, the recognition by the MSF doesn’t seem to mean that you will be able to substitute a YCRS class for a motorcycle practical exam; though it does mean that the YCRS curriculum meets the high standards set forth by the MSF, which reviewed the school’s coaching methodology and key principles.

It is no surprise that statistics from the NHTSA show that motorcycle accidents and injuries are on the rise. According to the 2012 Motor Vehicle Crash report published by the NHTSA, motorcycle fatalities for that year rose to 4,957, up seven percent from 2011, while injuries increased 15% to 93,000. While the NHTSA statistics are misleading because the motorcycle category includes mopeds, scooters, three-wheelers, pocket bikes, mini bikes, and off-road vehicles, new riders need every advantage they can afford. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has taken notice of these statistics and has revised the curriculum for its Basic RiderCourse to include a new Basic eCourse, which students will take prior to in-person instruction.

Want to improve your riding skills from the comfort of your computer or tablet? The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) has the digital solution for you. Releasing four courses onto the iTunes U store for free, the MSF has made available a wide variety of tips and strategies to help motorcyclists to sharpen and hone their two-wheeled craft. The four courses are “An Adventure in Motorcycle Physics,” “Dr. Ray’s Street Strategies,” “Dr. Ray’s Guide to Group Riding,” and “Dr. Ray’s Seasoned Rider,” with each class consisting of 20 or so chapters. The iTunes U courses are just one part of the MSF’s larger digital/online education strategy, with the venerable riding instruction group offering other apps and services for motorcyclists.

Back in October 2008, one of the first stories I ever covered on Asphalt & Rubber dealt with an interesting statistic: in the prior 12 months, more Marines had died from riding their motorcycles here in the USA, than did from enemy gunfire in Iraq — worst of all, all of those 25 of those deaths were on sport bikes. The statistic wasn’t a fluke either, as in 2009, the Army National Guard announced a similar trend, where it lost 36 Guardsman to motorcycle crashes that year, compared to the 25 lost fighting in Iraq. Evaluating the causes for these motorcycle fatalities, the Army National Guard discovered an alarming trend in the paperwork.

Getting the nod from the MSF that the Zero XU can be used for its rider courses, Zero Motorcycles’ urban commuter is the first electric motorcycle to be certified for use in the popular rider training program. Not only a boon to the California-based company, the news is a step-forward for the MSF, as the clutchless, gear-less, noiseless, and effortless motorcycle is the ideal platform for a new rider to learn how to safely ride a motorcycle. Best of all though, the news bodes well in training soon-to-be motorcyclists more effectively, as well as increasing the likelihood of attracting otherwise disinterested riders into the world of motorcycles.

Several sources have now confirmed that Erik Buell Racing is considering making a 250cc learner-style motorcycle to compliment its EBR 1190RS race/sport bike. Presumably filling the niche left behind by the crushed Buell Blast, the 250cc bike would be geared towards new and first-time riders, and would likely be MSF RiderCourse friendly. With bikes like the Kawaaski Ninja 250R / EX250 topping the sales charts as the best selling sport bike in the US, the folks at Erik Buell Racing are surely eyeing the market potential of a smaller, lightweight sport bike for the company’s growing product line.

The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) recently graduated its six millionth RiderCourse student (can we get a collective A&R booyah!). WIth over 10,000 coaches and 2,000 locations, MSF has been helping make new riders into competent motorcyclists since 1973, and partners with Federal, state, and military groups in providing basic motorcycle skills to new riders. Though known best for its introductory course, MSF offers 23 different RiderCourses designed to meet the requirements and needs of riders of any skill level. Training more than a handful of Asphalt & Rubber writers in the art of two-wheel transportation, we’d like to give the Motorcycle Safety Foundation a special congratulations and thank you for all its hard work. Post up in the comments if you too have been through an MSF course. Source: Motorcycle Safety Foundation

The great State of Wisconsin has begun to offer Harley-Davidson branded vanity license plates to its four-wheeled constituency. With the words “Share the Road” wedged underneath a double-dose of Harley-Davidson branding, the proceeds of the new plates will go to help fund State-sponsored motorcycle safety programs (a worthy cause).

Admittedly, we’re having a hard time with this story. On the one-hand, we love to see that motorcycle safety courses and programs are getting funded. There is a need to educate new riders, and to generally be good stewards for our sport and industry. On the other hand though, we generally frown on the commercialization of public programs, and while Wisconsin is the home of America’s largest motorcycle manufacturer, the whole thing just feels dirty.