Olivia Cardinal’s eyes are full of steely determination as she bites her lower lip in concentration. She sets off on a Kawasaki KLX140L motorcycle, headed towards a pair of bright red cones set up as a makeshift course in a parking lot. Two instructors watch keenly as she practises a drill she just learned. Her face lights up with joy as she slowly brings the beginner motorcycle to a smooth halt on the other side.
This is only the second day she has ever ridden a motorcycle.
The Road Safety Association of Ontario conducts motorcycle training courses at the Algonquin College Ottawa campus every year from April to October, and they continue to be highly sought after by people like Cardinal.
The RSAO currently offers three Canada Safety Council‘s Gearing Up national motorcycle training programs that take place on weekends in parking lot No. 9.
Introduction to Motorcycling is a three-hour program that introduces candidates to the basics of riding a motorcycle. It is designed to give people the opportunity to decide whether motorcycles are for them or not. It does not require applicants to have any previous experience and no licence is provided at the end of the program. It costs $125.
The M2 course is a three-day program. It commences with a three-hour lecture on Thursday evening and two days of riding training on the following Saturday and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. When this course has been successfully completed, the candidate will attain an M2 licence. Motorcycles are provided for this course, but applicants must hold an M1 licence to apply. It costs $500.
While an M1 licence only permits riding during daylight hours (30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset) and on roads with a speed limit of under 80 km/h (with a few exceptions), an M2 licence removes these. Holders of M1 and M2 licences must still maintain a zero blood alcohol level while riding.
“What this course does not teach is the rules of the road,” said instructor Tiffany O’Leary, who has been teaching for five years. “But if somebody shows up on a Saturday morning and they’ve never even touched a motorcycle, by Sunday afternoon they will feel comfortable to get on to any motorcycle and safely ride and operate that bike.”
“It’s all about safety and not so much speed,” said student Paul Hemsing about what he’s gleaned over the weekend. “The slower you go, the harder it is, and that’s what they work on here so you get more confidence in handling the bike.”
The third program is the M2 Exit course, conducted over two days. It begins with a three-hour lecture and parking lot skills assessment on Thursday evening, followed by a day of riding on either Saturday or Sunday on public roads. Candidates will be assessed by Ontario Ministry of Transportation certified instructors for their final M2 Exit road test. They are awarded permanent M licences on successful completion. Motorcycles are not provided for this course and candidates must have a valid M2 licence for a minimum of 22 months (or 18 months if successfully completed at a recognized motorcycle training program) to be eligible. The course costs $475.
The courses are popular and sell out months in advance. Most candidates at last weekend’s course signed up six months ago.
“I’m really excited to go for an actual ride on the road,” said Cardinal, a candidate in the M2 course. She feels far more confident after the training and now looks forward to riding her boyfriend’s old motorcycle.
Obtaining your motorcycle licence through an approved safety course can also provide riders discounts on vehicle insurance.
Further details about the courses can be found at motorcyclecourse.com.