Robins to focus on motorcycle safety

Some 400 motorcyclists are expected to participate Thursday morning in the second “See Me, Save Me” safety campaign sponsored by Robins Air Force Base.

Riders and base officials will start the day at 6 a.m. by handing out “See Me, Save Me” cards to motorists entering the base. Participants then will gather at two locations at 9 a.m. to prep for rides through the base and the main thoroughfares of Warner Robins.

On-base participants will assemble at the Pave Paws motorcycle safety range. Other riders — especially those who do not have base access — will meet at the Museum of Aviation parking lot.

The focus is motorcycle awareness, said Donn Johnson, a member of Robins Riders and a volunteer motorcycle instructor.

“It’s to let folks know how many of us are out there,” he said. “There are a lot of motorcyclists on the road, and drivers need to look twice. Not just once but twice. People don’t look for us. We’re small. They look for the big cars and trucks but not for us.”

Riders at both locations will receive an annual safety briefing and a safety brief for the ride itself.

“Then, at about 10 o’clock, it will be ‘stands up.’ ” Johnson said.

The on-base group will ride through a part of the installation then exit the base at the Russell Parkway gate.

“That should be about 10:20, and that’s where the group from the museum will join us,” the Robins computer programmer said. “Then we will ride west on Russell Parkway, north on Houston Lake Road, east on Watson Boulevard then south on Highway 247 back to the museum.”

Last year’s first “See Me, Save Me” campaign drew 305 riders and raised motorcycle awareness, Johnson said.

“A lot of people were talking about how many of us are out there,” he said. “It also personalized us. We were no longer just some motorcyclists, but Joe who works in base safety. Or the guy who works in the 402nd. They saw us as regular people who choose to ride.”

The goal is to educate the public, the New York native said.

“We need to share the road with them,” he said, “and they need to share the road with us.”

Johnson, an Air Force retiree, has worked at Robins since 1990. He first began riding motorcycles 30 years ago. He gave it up for a while but has been riding in earnest for the last six years. His devotion to safety became more intense two years ago when his younger brother, Scott, was killed in a motorcycle accident.

“The whole thing is we want drivers to start looking for us,” he said.

“It’s important not only to us but to them. A driver hitting a motorcyclist is something they will never forget. And that’s something we don’t want to happen.”

To contact writer Gene Rector, call 923-3109, extension 239.