GONZALES — With gasoline prices steadily on the rise, Brusly resident Lisa Landry is one of a growing number of people looking to move from four- to two-wheeled vehicles.

“I work at LSU, so I don’t have a long commute,” she said. “I actually sold my car and bought the motorcycle to save on gas. Plus, I’ve always wanted to ride one.”

However, Landry is also a new rider who wants to learn proper motorcycle techniques and safety practices.

Landry was among 12 area riders working to achieve this goal by taking part in a beginners riding course this weekend, offered by the state Department of Public Safety and held at the Lamar-Dixon Expo Center.

In an effort to increase motorcycle safety and awareness across the state, the department’s Motorcycle Safety, Awareness and Operator Training Program offers training for both beginning and advanced motorcycle riders.

“With motorcycles becoming more popular in today’s world because of rising gas costs, riders now more than ever need to be properly educated on how to operate these machines,” program coordinator Larry Ourso said.

Saturday’s event was part of a 15?-hour course designed for beginning motorcycle riders, with emphasis on skills necessary for navigating safely in traffic.

These include making themselves visible, dressing for safety, applying effective riding strategies and knowing the capabilities and limitations of their motorcycle.

Sam Visampalli, a native of India living in Baton Rouge and studying at LSU, said he enjoyed the course and found it to be educational.

“I’ve always wanted to ride a sport bike,” he said. “I had heard that this was a good training course, and I wanted to learn the proper techniques and safety requirements. It’s been a great experience.”

Along with the Gonzales site, the program is currently offered at training sites across the state.

These include locations in Baton Rouge, Hammond, Thibodaux, Lake Charles, Lafayette, and West Monroe. Additional training locations are scheduled to open soon in Shreveport and Westwego, Ourso said.

Additional information on the courses, as well as training dates and locations, can be found online at www.lsp.org, under “Training,” or by dialing (225) 925-6113, ext 224.