Mobile Classroom Teaches Bike Safety in Wisconsin

By John Gunnell

The Wisconsin Dept. of Transportation’s new mobile classroom called THE REF (Transportation High-End Rider Education Facility) is designed to reach out to motorcycle riders and to educate and encourage formal rider training. The REF “classroom” is a trailer that goes where riders go.

Designed to be non-intrusive, while still offering the most critical of survival tips, THE REF encourages both riders and non-riders to learn about sharing the road, crash avoidance and environmental awareness.

The “Harley state” created THE REF because motorcycling is inherently more dangerous than driving a car. Handling characteristics are unique and rider skills must be at a level capable of safe operation. However, the majority of all motorcycle riders in the state have not taken a rider education course.

According to statistics, motorcycles make up less than four percent of all vehicles registered in Wisconsin, but represent 15 percent of all highway fatalities. And that is true even though the riding season is only eight months.

Inside THE REF, riders will find an interactive learning environment. In the back of the 40-ft. trailer are three training motorcycles used in a 90-min. Introductory Motorcycle Experience developed by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation to provide a taste of what motorcycling is about and to teach the importance of attending a basic rider education class. After experiencing the IME, visitors can decide whether riding a motorcycle is suited for them.

THE REF also has touch screen monitors that allow visitors to test their knowledge of motorcycle safety. Various videos and other training aids can be viewed on three flat panel LED monitors.

At the front of THE REF there is another classroom with two SMARTTrainers (Safe Motorcyclist Awareness and Recognition Trainers) that are traffic simulators designed to give riders a safe bridge between a beginning riding course and real world experience riding in traffic and on public roads.

To see where the REF is stopping next, go to www.ZeroinWisconsin,gov/THEREF for a complete schedule. To request a visit or appearance from THE REF team, send inquiries to or or call 800-368-9677.

BHL39 THE REF Photo 01
This specially-equipped 40-ft. trailer serves as a mobile classroom teach motorcycle safety at various events in Wisconsin.

BHL39 THE REF Photo 02
Various videos and other training aids can be viewed on the three flat panel LED monitors in this section of the trailer.

BHL39 THE REF Photo 03
Riding skills are demonstrated with videos like this one demonstrating a rider and passenger on a course.

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At the front of THE REF is another classroom with two SMARTTrainers like the one a team member is demonstrating that simulate riding in traffic.



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