Greetings, readers of the Spokesman! Earlier this year, I submitted a series of three articles on the history of ABATE of Colorado’s Rider Education Division. One of the installments dealt with the Motorcycle Safety Foundation and with the Motorcycle Operator Safety Training office of CDOT, and the other two installments were actually the history of our rider ed. division. The articles dealt with our program up until 1995; I promised another installment to cover 1995 to the present, and this is it.In 1995, ABATE trained riders at Arapahoe Community College (ACC), Pikes Peak Community College (PPCC), Fort Carson, and Boulder (after purchasing Twin Peaks Motorcycle Safety Association (TPMSA)), in addition to our new site at Stapleton Industrial Park (SIP). We located our office at SIP, after securing a 5-year lease on the site.

In 1996, we continued training at all of the above sites. 1996 was a notable year in our history because it is the year that legal action was begun against a competitor, Rider Training Enterprises (RTE), for attempting to secure the Boulder site (Twin Peaks Mall) through allegedly misrepresenting the status of the ABATE-acquired TPMSA as out-of business. RTE countered with claims against ABATE, and the legal processes continued until the next year. The outcome of all the claims: the case was dismissed. Basically, neither side won and lots of money was spent on legal fees by both sides.

RTE and ABATE both remain in the rider training business. After I became the Director of Rider Education I met with the heads of RTE (Bill Anthony and Carol Reed); we agreed that the lawsuits were best put behind us as water under the bridge, and that no grudges would be perpetuated.

In 1997, training continued at ACC, SIP, PPCC, FC and TP.

In 1998, training continued at the above sites. Additionally, a site was established at Longmont High School (LHS); and, ABATE began a mobile training program at Summit High School (SHS) and the Pueblo Chemical Depot (PCD).

In 1999, ABATE trained riders at the above locations. We also began taking the Experienced RiderCourse to Storage Technology Corporation, a large company with facilities sufficient for training on it’s own grounds.

This year saw a change in the Director of Rider Education. Erik Erikson left ABATE and the ABATE State Board of Directors asked me to take his place. I accepted the challenge.

This was a very tenuous time for ABATE Rider Ed. Serious problems were many. For one, I had had no training or experience in how to run a business. I was not certified as MSF Chief Instructor at that time. Stapleton 2000, the firm that managed SIP, tried to evict us from that site prior to the end of our lease, due to their re-development plans. This was our busiest site, and also the site of our office, so we really had to scramble to find a solution. Stapleton 2000 relocated us to another area at SIP, but that solution would last only a year until our lease really did expire, at which time it was understood that we would have to leave for good. The previous Director had served as the Program Administrator for the SIP site, a situation which the State Board found unacceptable; so we had to find a Program Adminstrator. I had been the PA for the Mobile Program, so we had to find a replacement for that job, too. We had no vehicle to move bikes from one location to another, as our old school bus had bit the dust. Our office needed more staff. Our bank account was severely depleted from the law suit expenses.

Whew! Talk about flying by the seat of one’s pants…

In 2000, we established a training site at Red Rocks Community College (RRCC) as a replacement for the SIP site. We moved our offices to a location in Englewood. I went to California to become certified as a Chief Instructor. We trained students at ACC, RRCC, PPCC, SIP, LHS, SHS, PCD, STC and we brought the Experienced RiderCourse to Durango.

In 2001, we trained at the above locations, minus SIP. We established a site at Aims Community College in Greeley. The MOST program at CDOT went bankrupt in the middle of the training season, eliminating tuition subsidies, so we had to raise our price for the training significantly. Fees on motorcycle endorsements and registrations continued to be collected with the intention of the MOST program recovering.

Last year, 2002, we continued training at the above sites, although we had to discontinue training at PCD, due to heightened security there in the wake of the 9-11 terrorist acts. We established a training site at the University of Southern Colorado at Pueblo (USC) to meet the needs of riders in the Pueblo area. The MOST program was basically out of commission as it continued to recover.

This year, we are training at the same sites as last year. We had a weather-challenged spring, so training numbers were down in the first half of this season, but we are currently booking approximately two months ahead in the Denver metro area, so it looks as though we will have another excellent year.

The MOST program is back on-line, albeit to a limited extent. The current tuition subsidy for Colorado residents is $45/student. We hope that the recovery will continue and that the tuition subsidy will increase in 2004.

I hope you have enjoyed this series of four articles. As I mentioned in a previous installment, much of this history was derived from records both complete and incomplete, and from memory, so the content should not be assumed to be totally accurate. If you are aware of any inaccuracies, please let me know about them.

ABATE’s Rider Education Division appears to be a healthy entity. Rider education is a good thing. Please support it; word-of-mouth is the best advertising there is. Take a rider ed course, it’s good for you and it’s fun, too! Until next time, ride safely, and enjoy!