Recently Don Gomo, President of Empire State Motorcycle Safety Education Program, was interviewed for a thesis to be presented at an upcoming traffic and safety symposium. His information is very candid and straight forward regarding motorcycle safety and education. We were sent an advance copy of the transcript and wanted to forward on for others to read.
Peter: Thank you for doing this interview. After doing a little homework, I discovered that you have a very impressive reputation and resume when it comes to motorcycle safety and now, from what I understand, you are involved with a new organization; Empire State Motorcycle Safety Education Program (ESMSEP). What can you tell us about it?
Gomo: Thanks for the kind words and for asking me to be included with your project and yes, ESMSEP is a new Not for Profit 501c3 organization aimed at promoting motorcycling awareness and the benefits of rider education. Our primary goal is to inform licensed motorcyclists that education is extremely important and can be a major key to preventing motorcycle crashes.
Peter: So what’s different with ESMSEP than like a Motorcycle Rights Organization (MRO) such as ABATE?
Gomo: ABATE is a MRO that operates on a local and State wide level. Although their goal is to also promote motorcycle awareness and education, they are primarily a political advocate for motorcyclists’ rights. While we support and belong to ABATE (personally as members of Long Island ABATE), we are not a MRO. We are an educational advocate outreach organization to promote and offer free rider educational information with the hope that riders recognize the need to not only become better educated and skilled, but to continue their education for life. They fight for it (education) [as well as maintaining the rights of motorcyclists] and we provide it is about the major difference. We are not setup to address the political, legal or governmental needs of riders; they are and they do a very good job at it. I will say, that since their incorporation, Long Island ABATE has done an amazing job with membership and not only protecting the rights of the regions motorcyclist, but informing them on information they need to know.
Peter: Ok, that is different; never heard that approach before.
Gomo: True, we are one of the first organizations solely dedicated to the promotion of awareness and especially education. One of our bigger hurdles is explaining to motorcyclists what we’re about because it hasn’t been done before in New York. Rider education itself is a big hurdle in our state, but we believe our program can help develop more exposure to the issues of rider education.
Peter: So why is there a need for your organization, I mean that State already has rider education programs?
Gomo: There is a major disconnect between the motorcycling community, as a whole, and the motorcycle industry; which includes rider education. The motorcycle industry recognizes that motorcyclists need to become better educated to help reduce the risks of motorcycling and the motorcyclists, for the most part, do not consider a need for rider education. They may state it is a good thing, but for the most part do not do anything about for themselves. We are trying to bridge the two. We have heard from many riders stating that they have 10, 20, 25…..years of experience, yet when these riders do attend a riding program such as the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) Basic RiderCourse2 (BRC2 formerly call the ERC), many struggle with some or even all the exercises. This program incorporates the same skill practices as what is taught to someone that has never ridden a motorcycle before and yet they struggle with it – that’s alarming. For the most part, when one states they have 20 years experience that typically means they have 1 year experience that they have repeated for 20 years with never improving or present date term – “upgrading” their skills or knowledge.
Also, as much as motorcyclists state we need to watch out for the “other guy”; we do, but the numbers nationally and in New York indicate that nearly 75% of the reported crashes are the result of actions of the motorcyclist, either fully or partially, for something they did or did not do. Bottom line we are the major reason for the reported crashes and fatalities. That’s just the report incidents, if we guess at the ones not reported, that number would probably soar. This is information the motorcycling community does not like to hear, it’s always easier to blame someone else than realize we are at fault. We believe that 75% could easily become the number of crashes avoided by becoming better educated instead of letting our egos kill us.
Peter: I have seen the statistics you are speaking of and from what I have researched, this is not new information. In fact these numbers have been somewhat steadfast for years.
Gomo: Sadly you’re correct. Fatalities and crash numbers may have gone up or down over the years, but the percentage relating to fault and/or reasons have been pretty much the same. Again, this is alarming information that has been pushed aside for too long, but things are changing in the world of rider education to incorporate more information to a riders approach to motorcycling. We have to remember that “experience” is not the same as skills. We need both, but having 20 years “experience” without the skills to support it is absolutely useless. As with many learning applications you have your theory and practical side of things; experience would be the theory portion and skills the practical. When combined, you can reduce the risks associated to the sport.
Peter: You would think that bikers would want to be as safe as possible and do what they can to avoid a crash. Why is attendance of rider courses compared to the amount of motorcyclists so low?
Gomo: Good question and a tough one to answer. Some folks do not even know that there are programs available to increase their knowledge and skills. That’s the easier issue to address by informing motorcyclists what’s out there. The other reasons are tougher and more than likely deal with ego issues. Some folks may acknowledge that their skills are limited, but are afraid of things like dropping their bike or looking “bad” in front of their peers. With that I would just say “get over it,” I much rather a person does something wrong in a class where we can point out the problem for them to correct than in the street. Plus when it comes to dropping the bike, its typically because one was going too slow (less than 3-5mph) and the bike just kind of “falls over” with no real damage – except to that persons ego (laughs).
Finally the toughest group to conquer are the ones that “know how to ride”, that experience thing again. We easily become complacent when it comes to motorcycle riding. Most folks can learn to operate a motorcycle; it takes a bit of coordination, balance, and practice to get it rolling. Listen if the circus can teach bears and chimps to ride dirtbikes, most people can learn to ride a motorcycle. Yet once we get a few miles under our belts, we develop confidence and consider ourselves “experienced” riders. Like I said, operating a motorcycle really isn’t too difficult, riding it proficiently takes constant education and practice; something too many of us do not do and the numbers each year reflect it. Yes, we always have to watch out for the other guy, but we need to start taking responsibility for ourselves. We are responsible for our safety and when it comes to Sharing the Road, we need to hold up our end too and be as skilled and educated as we can be to prevent mishaps.
Peter: Seems like a big problem that has been around for some time. What does your program do to address this?
Gomo: In NYS, about 1% of the licensed motorcyclists attend a riding program each year. Besides that being a scary number, it obvious they are not going to get educated for reasons discussed or others; so we bring the information to them – for free. We schedule seminars at local libraries, rallies, and visit motorcycle clubs….wherever we can get the information out.
Peter: How has that been going?
Gomo: Great so far. The folks that have attended our presentations have all stated that the information was not only great to hear, but really eye opening. We discuss a various amount of topics from lane positioning, awareness, group riding, cornering, braking, etc. Our presentations review a lot of information that many riders may never have considered or just either forgot about or put on the mental backburner. A lot of it could be considered common sense tactics, but unfortunately that is something that all too often disappears once we start rolling. With the information we present we encourage everyone to consider a riding course of some kind to support the information; many have at least stated that they were going to pursue attending a program – which is fantastic to hear.
Peter: Do you think you will change things with thoughts about rider education?
Gomo: We hope so, but we also know that change doesn’t happen overnight. It takes time and persistence; I believe our organization can help make a change. Listen, if the information we present can help someone from being involved in a crash, we did what we set out to do. Hopefully more will see the need for what we present. Again, time is a major factor; but we’re in this for the long haul.
Peter: Tell us a little about your Membership Program that ESMSEP Offers.
Gomo: Well for us to do things for free does cost us financially. Promotions, information, travel and scheduling and much more are a bit time consuming and does have costs with it. So we set up a Membership Benefit to help support us with our financial needs. For the $25 it costs to become a member, it gives us some of the support we need. The more members we have, the more we can do. With each membership a person receives a $4000 accidental death and dismemberment insurance policy. Seems like an oxymoron to offer death insurance while promoting safety and skills, but then again there are those times that there is nothing we can do and having a little extra security for the family can’t hurt. We also have nearly 80 sponsors that are regional, national and even international and most of them offer discounts of 10-15% or more off purchases from their companies, shops, dealerships, etc. That’s more sponsors than any other not for profit motorcycle organization. In fact, we had nearly 60 sponsors before we had a single member because they all recognized the need for a program like ours and wanted to be involved and support us. Plus we are continually in contact with more companies that have expressed interest in join our team.
Peter: Seems like a lot for ones $25 membership, which should be a great selling feature.
Gomo: We can’t do it alone; support from the community will take us further. Our website states Help Us Help You. We understand that education and skills improvement is not the silver bullet to prevent all the situations out there that can result in crashes or worse; but it’s our best defense/offense we have. The more riders that start revamping their approach to riding, then more will see the advantages to doing so. We all want to be able to come home after a ride to do it again another day, together we can work on the making things safer on our roadways to do just that. Don’t just do it for yourself, think of everyone that relies on you being safe. This is not a sport where ignorance is bliss; it can hurt you or even worse. The step’s it takes to become a more proficient motorcyclists is not that hard to address; it just takes a willingness to take that step which can have a major pay off – Our Safety!
Peter: Thank you Don for your time and I wish you all the success with your goals and I am optimistic that your program will be a great success and like others, see that there is a need for your organization. Perhaps we can follow up in a year to see how Empire State Motorcycle Safety Education Program is doing.
Gomo: Thank you for helping get the word out and we would love to follow up in the future to let everyone know how we’re doing; actually how the motorcycling community is doing. Take Care and Ride Safe, Skilled and Often.
Free Rider Education
We again have our SkilledRider seminars scheduled for the months of July and August Motorcyclists Tune Up Information for motorcyclists to refresh themselves of skills and awareness needed to have a safer riding season. This will be a non riding course (information only) that will review topics such as proper cornering, braking, general riding skills, group riding, street strategies, road awareness and more. Call to Register
Smithtown Public Library, Wednesday July 15, 22, 29; 7-8:30pm 148 Smithtown Blvd, Nesconset - Ph 631.360.2480
Northport Public Library, Monday August 17, 24, 31; 7-8:30pm 151 Laurel Ave, Northport - Ph 631.261.2313
We are also continuing our MC Club Presentations/Seminars If you are interested in scheduling a seminar for your club, email us at email@example.com
We would like to welcome
Long Island ABATE
to our team of
If you would like to have your group join our team and be listed on our website, Click Here for InfoClick Image for LI ABATE Website
Sponsoring Partners SpotlightWe plan to include a highlight of our Sponsoring Partners with our email updates as a reminder of the organizations/companies that support the Promotion of Motorcycle Awareness & the Benefits of Rider Education. We not only encourage motorcyclists to become a member to help us achieve our goals plus take advantage of all the discount offerings from our Sponsoring Partners, but ask that you support these companies and thank them for their sponsorship.Become a Member PageSponsoring Partners Page
195 Woodcleft Ave Freeport, NY 11520
We are pleased to say that they were one of the first to come on board to become a Sponsor of ESMSEP
For one of the largest selections of motorcycle gear and apparel plus riding accessories, this should be one of your first stops to shop. They also help sponsor several motorcycle events/bike nights in Freeport.
The owners Blaise & Pam not only are avid riders but will help you with all your riding needs
Click on the image to check out their website for more information.
The Hog Shoppe
3114 Hempstead Turnpike, Levittown, NY 11756
The Hog Shoppe was another business that joined with us even before we had a single member recognizing the importance and need for rider education. If you're looking to customize your ride, they have the largest stock of parts and accessories that will make your bike one of a kind. Whether you want bling or speed, they can hook you up without a problem.
The owner Bo also writes a trivia column in the monthly publication of
Full Throttle Magazine.
Click on the image to check out their website
America's #1 Regional Motorcycle Tour Magazine
Publishers Brian & Shira are the true models of motorcycle enthusiasts and each issue definitively reflects it. From motorcycle & gear reviews to tours that range from locally to internationally plus unique places to visit and dine, they cover it all. The publications are free in your local dealerships but if you want to make sure you get every issue you can also subscribe through their website.
Check them out by clicking on the image
This Sunday July 12, We will be set up at the end location of the Orange County H.O.G. Chapter Poker Run.
If you are at the event, stop by & say Hi
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