Cheap, Fun Safety Courses for Motorcyclists

24 September 2014

Motorcycle and scooter riders throughout Wellington are being offered the chance to be better riders through subsidised rider training, a collaborative initiative from local councils and New Zealand Transport Agency.

The subsidy reduces the cost of the skills training courses to only $20, making it possible for more riders to take part.

Motorcycles, scooters and mopeds (scooters under 50cc) are an increasingly popular option for leisure and commuting with over 7500 registered in Wellington City alone. The skills training courses aim to provide these riders with the opportunity to improve their handling and safety skills, and contribute to a reduction in crashes involving scooters and motorcycles.

The courses are for new and experienced riders. They cover the skills required to ride safely in the city and throughout the region including: balance, control, braking and cornering, counter-steering, pre-ride maintenance checks, hazard awareness, and crash reduction and avoidance.

Course instructors Andrew and Lynne Templeton of Roadsafe say the courses include practical riding skills as well as covering basic safety and protective riding. “Riders are also encouraged to avoid serious injury by covering all skin and wearing gloves and sturdy shoes,” says Andrew. “Being based in a car park means that riders can upskill in a quieter environment away from the busy road, and it’s quite social,” says Lynne.

More than 400 riders have improved their handling skills and safety knowledge through these courses over the last four years. Many have enjoyed them so much that they take another course.

Razvan Alexandres has taken part in several courses. “This city is quite a difficult place to ride in. The roads are narrow with many hills, challenging corners, blind parking and street exits. The courses have enabled me to become a better rider by improving my riding skills, particularly ‘slow riding’ [which] has always been a challenge and this has helped.” Razvan says he has also enjoyed meeting other riders from across the region and this motivated him to organise his own social riding group.

Recent statistics show that 17% of fatal and serious crashes in the Wellington region involved motorcycle, scooter or moped riders. Sergeant Richard Hocken of the Wellington District Road Policing team says increasing the safety of motorcyclists is both a national and regional priority. “Riding a motorcycle requires a different set of skills and a higher level of vehicle control than driving a car. Unfortunately the results of any crash, regardless of the cause, are always more severe for motorcyclists.”

Courses are provided in central Wellington, Hutt Valley and in the Wairarapa, and run regularly throughout the year. “We haven’t had to cancel one yet due to inclement weather,” says Anna Blomquist, Transport Safety Education Coordinator for Wellington City Council. “For our commuter riders it’s important to know how to ride safely in challenging weather.”

Full-day motorcycle skills training courses are held every month. Half-day scooter (and moped) skills training courses occur every few months. See the latest training dates.

The courses are subsidised by NZTA, Wairarapa Road Safety Council, and the Wellington, Porirua, Kapiti Coast, Hutt City and Upper Hutt City councils. Motorcycle and scooter groups, and bike shops are also supporting this initiative by distributing information.