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Bikers roll into annual rally

Motorcycle safety rally

Eglin bikers ride into the annual motorcycle safety rally at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., April 12. More than 600 motorcyclists came out for the event that meets the annual safety briefing requirement for base riders. (U.S. Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr.)

Motorcycle safety rally

A rider’s chrome Harley Davidson emblem shines in the sun at the annual motorcycle safety rally at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., April 12. More than 600 motorcyclists came out for the event that meets the annual safety briefing requirement for base riders. (U.S. Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr.)

Motorcycle safety rally

Riders remove their protective gear before annual motorcycle safety rally at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., April 12. More than 600 motorcyclists came out for the event that meets the annual safety briefing requirement for base riders. (U.S. Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr.)

Motorcycle safety rally

A rider brings her bike into the annual motorcycle safety rally at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., April 12. More than 600 motorcyclists came out for the event that meets the annual safety briefing requirement for base riders. (U.S. Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr.)

Bikers roll into annual rally

A pair of Indian bikes sit together at the annual motorcycle safety rally at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., April 12. More than 600 motorcyclists came out for the event that meets the annual safety briefing requirement for base riders. (U.S. Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr.)

Motorcycle safety rally

A cherry-red Harley Davidson bike sits at the annual motorcycle safety rally at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., April 12. More than 600 motorcyclists came out for the event that meets the annual safety briefing requirement for base riders. (U.S. Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr.)

Motorcycle safety rally

An A-10 Thunderbolt II lifts off above a crowd of bikes at the annual motorcycle safety rally at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., April 12. More than 600 motorcyclists came out for the event that meets the annual safety briefing requirement for base riders. (U.S. Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr.)

Motorcycle safety rally

Riders remove their protective gear before annual motorcycle safety rally at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., April 12. More than 600 motorcyclists came out for the event that meets the annual safety briefing requirement for base riders. (U.S. Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr.)

Motorcycle safety rally

A line of bikes is parked together at the annual motorcycle safety rally at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., April 12. More than 600 motorcyclists came out for the event that meets the annual safety briefing requirement for base riders. (U.S. Air Force photo/Samuel King Jr.)

EGLIN AIR FORCE BASE, Fla. --

More than 600 motorcyclists on bikes of all varieties, makes and models, and non-riders, met at the McKinley Climatic Lab April 11 for the 12th annual Motorcycle Safety Rally here.

In addition to Eglin units, military and civilians from Duke Field and Hurlburt Field were part of the joint event.

Col. Ivory Carter, 96th Mission Support Group commander, stressed the importance of “Arrive Alive,” a statewide traffic safety initiative, in his opening remarks.

He stated that in the last four years, motorcycles accounted for 60 percent of personal motor vehicle fatalities in the Air Force and more than half were under the age of 25. Carter said he hoped the education offered at the rally would lead to lives saved.

Representatives from Ride Smart Florida, the communication and outreach extension of the Florida Motorcycle Safety Coalition, attended this year’s rally. They brought a rider simulator attendees could use to determine their skill level.  Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles representatives were also present.

Lt. Col. Justin Lemiere, 53rd Wing director of staff, lead an informal discussion with the audience.  He asked a few attendees to recount experiences where motorcycle safety awareness played a role in preventing accidents or saving their lives.  This was followed by the required annual motorcycle safety brief.

Joe Bailey, 53rd Wing occupational safety manager, said the rally was particularly focused on inexperienced first-term and mid-term Airmen.

“We provided mandatory training and encouraged mentorship rides that provided structured training and guidance to our youngest riders, led by experienced riders via risk-assessed approved routes,” he said.

 After the briefings, the riders departed for unit and individual group rides.  

Col. Michele Woodcock, 96th Test Wing chief of safety, was impressed by the attendance and participation.

 “This event is a great part of all we do to take care of our people, who are our most valuable resource,” she said.   “We’re also ensuring our motorcycle riders have the best chance to stay safe while they’re out on the roads, and to ‘Arrive Alive!’”