How could the state mandate that Monroe County bikers take a safety course that was not even available in their own county?
That was a question to which Rupert Staudner easily came up with an answer.
After teaching a motorcycle awareness course at Marathon High School for many years, Rupert became an Official Rider Coach through the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF), which has provided standards for rider education, training and safety improvements since 1973.
In July 2008, the state of Florida imposed a new law mandating that new motorcyclists must take and pass the Basic Rider Course through the Florida Rider Training Program before they can have the motorcycle endorsement added to their license.
Since then, anyone living in Monroe County had to lay out considerable additional expenses to get a motorcycle endorsement by traveling to the mainland to attend the required two to three day course.
“With travel time, getting a hotel and meals for the weekend, you could easily spend $500-700 for the course,” said Martina, Rupert’s wife.
Just under a year ago, Rupert began the process of launching what is now his eighth business, Florida Keys First Motorcycle Riding School.
“As of this month, there is now a state approved Motorcycle Riding School in Monroe County,” Rupert said proudly. “Now, riders can get their necessary motorcycle endorsement here locally in the Keys without having to travel to the mainland.”
Interest has been great. Rupert and Martina have already filled the weekend classes through the remainder of October.
“After you complete the two-day course, all you have to do is go to the DMV to get your motorcycle endorsement on your driver’s license,” Rupert explained. “No further testing is required.”
The Staudners offer three different courses available to all levels of riders. The Basic Rider Course provides an introduction to the fundamentals of safe and responsible riding. This course is part of a larger rider training and education system that is geared toward the beginning rider but also offers a wealth of knowledge and skill practices for the rider with years of experience.
If you’ve never ridden a motorcycle and figure it’s something you may enjoy, there is also a First Ride Experience available. This course is a two-hour introductory riding experience for adventurous souls. Even if you’ve never ridden before, Rupert and Martina said you need nothing more than the desire to try.
Lastly, the Experienced Rider Course is for the rider who has his endorsement as well as ample riding experience but is interested in developing their riding and safety awareness skills on their own motorcycle.
To participate in the first two levels of safety training all that is required of participants is a driver’s license and basic knowledge of traffic laws, signs and rules of the road. Helmets, bikes, all classroom materials as well as DMV testing are included in the price of the course. Training is on small, lightweight bikes on a closed course, and Rupert and Martina gladly offer private lessons on a flexible schedule.
New riders will require the following for the class: long pants and a long-sleeve shirt; sturdy, over-the-ankle boots or high-top shoes; full-fingered gloves; eye protection (may be sunglasses) and raingear.
Rupert and Martina are not only offering a cost-savings and convenience factor to local Florida Keys riders, they’re also looking to expand the scope of their business and market the school to riders outside of Monroe County.
“What better way to spend a weekend than to come down, get your certification and explore U.S. 1 on a motorcycle?” Rupert asked.