Experienced Rider Training Symposium was a great success

From Issue: 
Vol LV No. 3, July 2011

Written by Raynald Marchand, General Manager – Programs at Canada Safety Council.

The Canada Safety Council hosted the International Experienced Rider Training Symposium (ERTS), along with support from the Canadian Motorcycle Association, in Niagara Falls, Ontario on May 25 to 27, 2011. The Fédération Internationale de Motocyclisme Commission invited Canada to host this event for the first time ever in North America.

This was not a typical conference where participant’s sit as an audience, but rather a “hands-on” experience. All participants were able to ride an assortment of motorcycles in a variety of circumstances. This gave us the opportunity to sample on and off-road, novice and advanced rider training programs from around the world.

I found it very fascinating to discuss motorcycle safety with our international guests, who travelled from as far as Australia and New Zealand to be at this event. The interaction between motorcycle rider training professionals, motorcycle safety researchers, and individuals involved in framing legislation pertaining to the operation of motorcycles – all coming from five different continents – made for some very interesting discussions.

I particularly enjoyed watching the off-road portion of the symposium, conducted by a very animated professional instructor, Clinton Smout. To demonstrate how difficult it can be for novice riders to learn new skills, Smout rigged a small dirt bike with reverse controls. Since riding a motorcycle comes easy for the ERTS participants, this was a great way to show the potential difficulties that many new riders face.

I also got the opportunity to test an electric motorcycle called Zero, aptly named so because it is a no emissions, electric motorcycle (pictured). It was an interesting experience because, unlike most motorcycles I ride, this bike had no clutch or gears. It also had a lot of torque for being electrically powered. I believe we will begin to see more and more of these bikes on our roadways.

Throughout the length of the symposium, the weather cooperated for the most part. We were able to conduct all outdoor activities without getting rained on. However, we did experience some strong winds and overnight rain. Many overseas participants were fascinated by our constantly changing Canadian weather.

On the final night of the symposium we all had the opportunity to relax and enjoy each other’s company at a Niagara winery. It was a chance to reflect on the differences between us as well as the commonalities – that we all have an interest in the safety of riding motorcycles around the world.