PC Jones, based at MOD St Athan, set up the day with Bike Safe Co-ordinator PC Kevin Garner, who works with the South Wales Forces Road Policing Unit.
The event in August followed weeks of planning during which PC Jones gained the support of the Head of Establishment, Commodore Anthony King, and the Commanding Officer RAF 4 School of Technical Training Wing, Commander Lyndon Jones. He also secured the services of South Wales Police motorcyclists and a number of civilian motorcycle assessors to facilitate the training.
PC Jones has been a motorcyclist for over 25 years and had been keen to arrange the event since taking on his DCPO role at MOD St Athan.
The statistics also backed up the need for the training as in 2009 the RAF lost more personnel due to motorcycle accidents than it did on military operations. Last year a young RAF serviceman based at St Athan lost his life in one such accident.
In respect of motorcycle accidents Service Personnel have an increased risk of dying compared with their civilian counterparts (see below):
For motorcycle deaths in the last five years (2005-2009):
- Naval Service personnel were at an 124% increased risk of dying compared to theUKpopulation
- Army personnel were at a 116% increased risk of dying compared to theUKpopulation
- RAF personnel were at a 247% increased risk of dying compared to theUKpopulation
In this context PC Jones said he felt that raising awareness amongst motorcyclists at MOD St Athan in an attempt to reduce accidents would be more than worthwhile.
The Vale of Glamorgan Local Authority also came onboard and subsidised the event by providing copies of the book: ‘The Police Riders Handbook to Better Motorcycling’ (Motorcycle Roadcraft) to all those taking part.
This meant participants only had to pay £20 for their training with the money going directly to The Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents (ROSPA)Wales.
MOD St Athan’s Sopworth Suite was chosen as the venue to facilitate the theory side of the training after all riders, a mix of service personnel and civilians, had had their driver and vehicle documentation checked.
They were then introduced to the Bike Safe strategy which looks to engage with post-test riders and help them consider and analyse why motorcycle crashes happen.
There are fewer causes of motorcycle crashes than might be imagined with five strong themes emerging. These are issues relating to filtering, junctions, cornering, overtaking and group riding. In the classroom, ‘Bike Safe’ offers potential solutions to these most prevalent crash causes.
During the course of the morning PC Garner took those attending through the “system” of motorcycle control explaining the importance of the five phases involved – Information, Position, Speed, Gear and Acceleration and looking at particular scenarios involving the identified problem areas. Whilst this was going on the remaining police motorcyclists and civilian motorcycle assessors carried out inspections of the participants’ motorcycles to ensure they were road worthy and legal.
Armed with their newly acquired knowledge the motorcyclists then embarked on an observed ride element of the training day;during which their riding was assessed by qualified police motorcyclists or civilian motorcycle assessors. Afterwards the assessors prepared individual rider development reports which they can take to a post-test training provider: ‘Bike Safe’ is about bridging the gap into accredited training.
As a motorcyclist PC Jones was among those who took part and his rider development report was encouraging showing that based upon 13 different criteria he was considered low risk in nine areas and low to medium risk for the remaining four.
All participants thoroughly enjoyed and benefited from the training. One said: “Sitting in the theory lessons I began to realise that I passed my bike test thirty one years ago. This thought, although initially alarming, rammed home the need for continual training and a proactively analytical approach to riding. I was reassured that I was already using some of the skills taught but have now learnt new skills I need to put into practice and make second nature whilst riding.”
The course was also given the thumbs up by the police motorcyclists and civilian assessors who commented positively on the attitude of those taking part and hoped that further events could be arranged in the future.
PC Jones said other MDP units may wish to consider running similar events and that it may be possible to run one at no cost to the participants.
Most UK Police Forces operate Bike Safe programmes and are more than receptive to engaging with those wishing to promote road safety amongst motorcycle riders.
Officers can find details of their local Bike Safe co-ordinators and planned events by visiting the bikesafe website www.bikesafe.co.uk and selecting their local force area.