MCIEAST Poker Run promotes bike safety

9 Nov 2010 | Lance Cpl. Jonathan G. Wright

Motorcycle safety in the Marine Corps has been a topic of interest and has undergone heavy scrutiny over the past few years. It has only been in these recent years that programs and initiatives to help accelerate safety throughout the Marine motorcycle community have come to a head, and the numbers are definitely showing the worth of all this effort.

One of these initiatives is the upcoming Fall 2010 Poker Run on Nov. 19, hosted by Marine Corps Installations – East, with a goal of raising motorcycle safety awareness, improve motorcycle handling skills and promoting friendly competition and camaraderie among the motorcyclists of Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune and Marine Corps Air Station New River.

“Throughout the year we put on different motorcycle events to bolster riding safety as well as bring riders together,” said Ron Farris, safety specialist with the MCIEAST Department of Public Safety. “This poker run is a good way to close out the riding season.”

A poker run is where a group of motorcyclists ride to pre-designated spots, collecting a playing card at each one. After completing the route and collecting five cards, riders see which one of them has the best hand, winning the poker run.

This poker run will begin at 8 a.m. at the Marine Corps Exchange aboard Camp Lejeune, taking the riders up through Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point and looping through three stops on Emerald Isle to finish back at Camp Lejeune.

Prizes will be given out to the rider with the best hand and the one with the worst hand in both sports bike and cruiser bike types. While it is a day of riding with other motorists, the overlying message of safety is to be felt with information booths, checks on proper personal protective equipment and inspections on bikes prior to the event’s start.

“While there are prizes at the end, no one participates to win them,” said Stan Dutko, director of safety for MCIEAST and safety manager for Camp Lejeune. “They want to get out there on their motorcycles and ride with fellow motorists.”

In 2008, there were 25 motorcycle fatalities, which is when the Marine Corps made the effort to lower this number by implementing various motorcycle safety events such as the poker run. The following year fatalities dropped to almost half at 14, and with 2010 almost at a close, only nine fatalities have occurred, just one of which was within the MCIEAST

“Overall, these events are about safety with the experienced riders teaching the new ones,” said Farris. “Second, it teaches them further about what proper PPE to be wearing and what additional training they might need.”

Whether for safety purposes, self improvement or a need to get out of the office for a day, the upcoming poker run will bolster the confidence and skills of motorcycle participants, one of many safety aspirations aboard the base.

For more information about the upcoming poker run, call the Department of Public Safety at 451-2082.