11 crashes, 5 injuries involving motorcyclists in Squamish each year: ICBC
It has been said that grey-haired motorcycle riders don’t get that way from pure luck – they have skills and experience.
Until recently those in Squamish who wanted to learn how to safely ride a motorbike had to head down the highway to North Vancouver or beyond for a course.
Starting April 1, however, the Squamish Motorcycle School rolls into town.
The school’s courses are put on by Hilton Jacobs, who has ridden motorcycles for 30 years and is an ICBC licensed instructor.
Hilton, originally from South Africa, said he first rode a motorbike when he was 12 years old.
He moved to Squamish three years ago after leaving a 20-year career in the information technology sector in Vancouver.
Starting the school is a way to combine the riding he loves with a new career, he said.
Each course is 16 hours long and includes eight hours of classroom learning and eight hours of practice out on one of the school’s four new bikes, Suzuki GW250s.
A common mistake with newbie riders, according to Jacobs, is looking down when riding.
“One thing we drill people on is you go where you look,” he said.
“So always look where you want to go… look 10 or 15 seconds down the road. When taking a corner look where you want to be and pick a spot in the distance – never, ever look down.”
The majority of low speed, new motorcycle rider crashes involve the rider looking down, turning their handlebars and putting the brakes on, he added.
In B.C., there were 283,300 active licensed motorcycle drivers in 2015, the latest year for which ICBC has data.
On average, between 2009 to 2013, there were 11 crashes involving motorcyclists in Squamish each year and five injured motorcyclists each year, according to the insurance corporation.
New riders need to understand the basics of low-speed traction, Jacobs said.
“Traction is a beast,” he said. “You can do one of three things that changes your traction: you can change your speed, you can brake or you can change direction.”
A rider can get away with two of these, but “the minute you add the third one, you will fall down.”
Riders in the course will learn all of these basics and come to feel comfortable riding, he added.
Those who already mountain bike, or ride any kind of bicycle, will find the transition to motorcycle riding easier, according to Jacobs.
“If you can ride a bicycle you will definitely adapt to riding a motorcycle a lot quicker,” he said.
In addition to the course, the school will also offer support services for the motorcycle skills test and for the driving test.
“We will meet you on the day of your test for a fee and run you through some basics, get you all set up, make sure you are comfortable on the bike and then you go off and take your test,” Jacobs said.
The school doesn’t currently offer the Motorcycle Skills Assessment, but the plan is to offer it next season.
The only challenge Jacobs said he can see is that ICBC only has one examiner in Squamish so the busier the school gets the busier the examiner will be.
To sign up or for more information go to Squamish Motorcycle School on Facebook or call 604-716-5900.
This article originally appeared in the Squamish Chief and is reposted with permission.