George Kimes was 29-years-old when he last rode a motorcycle. Three decades later, he was finishing up a motorcycle safety program Friday afternoon in Anchorage.
"I hadn't ridden a motorcycle for 30 years, so I thought I better take a refresher course and I learned a lot," Kimes said.
Kimes took the program via a group called Alaska Bikers Advocating Training and Education, more commonly known as ABATE.
“We train approximately 1,000 motorcycle riders per year, per season actually because our season starts May 1 and ends mid-September,” Barbara Smart, Alaska Leather Owner and ABATE Rider Education Program director, said.
On Monday, 20-year-old Justin Ashley died a day before his 21st birthday after crashing his motorcycle into a pickup truck in South Anchorage.
According to Anchorage police, there have been 14 crashes involving motorcycles in 2013 as of Friday. Police say the earliest reported crash happened in April when a motorcycle lost control on an ice patch under an overpass.
Alaska State Troopers have responded to three deadly motorcycle crashes in 2013.
"If you have a little fender bender, oops you have a fender bender, go to the insurance company and everything's pretty much ok," Smart said. "If you run into a motorcycle it could kill that person, so motorcycle safety is very important not just for the car driver, but for motorcyclists themselves too."
Riding safety courses are also mandatory for those people planning to ride at JBER. According to ABATE, 400 service members have successfully passed its motorcycle safety courses in 2013.
"I think people are more distracted driving when the sun is out," Smart said. "They really need to have their mind in the game, drivers of cars and motorcycles - it's real easy to daydream when it's a beautiful day out."
“[The instructors] know about the accidents that happened and how people could have saved their lives if they would have thought differently and taken evasive action not freezing,” Kimes said.
Kimes says even after 30 years, taking a refresher course was worth it.
"Motorcyclists always have to be alert in thinking, always looking for escape routes as you're riding and being aware of where your open spaces are as you ride," Kimes said.
Contact: Samantha Angaiak