Camper turned classroom: motorcycle safety at Bike Fest

By: Max Hess - Email
By: Max Hess - Email

Posted Wednesday, June 25, 2014 -- 10:00 p.m.

Bill Murphy says the day he was born, he was brought home on a motorcycle.

"Motorcycling has been in my family for a long time," he says.

That's why he couldn't miss out on being part of bike night at Quaker Stake N' Lube in Middleton.

Don't be mistaken, Bill was not there for the booze and wings.

"I was a motor officer for the City of Madison Police, and I teach basic rider courses at several different venues," he explained.

Bill now works with the Wisconsin Motorcycle Safety Program, and operates things like the "REF", which is a camper turned mobile classroom.

Along with many other features, the REF has two real Honda motorcycles that are hooked up to a traffic simulator, enabling drivers to learn how they need to behave in precarious situations.

Bill says even experienced riders learn valuable lessons.

"They usually walk away thinking... I need to think about how I ride."

The REF also includes interactive DVDs and housing for introductory biking lessons.

It's transportable, according to Bill, and appears anywhere from events like today to count fairs and car shows.

Joseph Kehl, who has been hitting the road on a bike for more than three years now, agrees that safety is key.

"Just on the ride here I almost got hit twice, just from people not looking," he said, adding that "I got to be aware, other people got to be aware."

"Other people" an important aspect of it all -- something both Bill and Joseph agree on.

"We really want to stress to drivers to look at least twice," Bill said.

It's an important lesson to take away, especially in the summer months -- more sunshine, more riders.

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