The power of BikeSafe to positively engage
October 12th, 2019 and it’s a big day. Ahead of retirement from a career that I am immensely proud of, this day marks my final BikeSafe workshop as a serving South Wales Police Motorcyclist. Welcoming today’s riders, I’m again reminded of the power of BikeSafe to positively engage this vulnerable road user group in the subjects of rider safety and skills enhancement. Through 23 years of policing and 16 years as a Police Motorcyclist, BikeSafe has without doubt been my most positive experience of a Police-led safety initiative that can break-down barriers, build relationships, nurture inter-agency collaboration and empower behavioural change that saves lives.
First became involved with BikeSafe in 1999
I started with South Wales Police in 1996, and first became involved with BikeSafe when I joined traffic in 1999. I’d already been riding for several years and determined to become more involved with BikeSafe, I passed my full motorcycle licence in the same year. In 2003 I applied to become a Police Motorcyclist and there followed a rigorous process of examination and assessment, followed by the Police Motorcyclist four-week ‘standard course’ and leading on to a demanding three-month attachment. Thereafter, I was deemed fit to progress onto the highly sought after ‘advanced course’, followed by the ‘VIP Escort Course’.
Keen to fully understand all the ‘moving parts’ of motorcycle training and what ‘makes’ a skilled/safe rider, I became down trained through a local DVSA certified motorcycle training school in 2004 and confirmed my qualification to deliver Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) at Cardington (DVSA Test Centre) in 2005. In 2006 I returned to Cardington to gain qualification as a Direct Access Instructor, later supplemented with DVSA certification to deliver the Enhanced Rider Scheme (ERS).
All this networking combined with support from South Wales Police allowed us to begin the process of aligning and collaborating with various similarly road-safety motivated local agencies. These included DVSA training schools, IAM RoadSmart, RoSPA, the Speed Camera Partnership, FBOS, local Councils, the Welsh Assembly and BikerDown. Funds were secured for the ongoing delivery of BikeSafe, along with funding to launch Wales by Bike as a dedicated safer riding resource for Welsh motorcyclists, through which we have been able to engage with more riders and to steer them towards further education, assessment and training.
Police motorcycle, helmet and boots are the ideal engagement tools
Knowledge has power when you pass it on and whilst not everyone wants to listen to a Police Officer, I’ve found my police motorcycle, helmet and boots to be the ideal engagement tools to pass on knowledge to the South Wales Biker community. During my tenure thousands have attended South Wales BikeSafe workshops, with significant numbers then elevating their safety by attending ERS, IAM and RoSPA. The reward has been nearly two decades of official recorded feedback, consistent words of appreciation from members of the public and the secure knowledge that BikeSafe continues to save lives in South Wales and throughout the UK.
Next year marks two decades of BikeSafe and during these 20 years, a relatively small team of dedicated Police Motorcyclists, support staff and volunteers have delivered an incredible 5000 (national) workshops – signposting over 60,000 riders and paying forward over 240,000 hours. Currently, 34 Police Forces continue to deliver our ‘sold-out’ rider-safety workshops at over 75 venues and 2020 will be pivotal as we look to continuing this legacy for a further 20 years.
It’s been an honour!
PC Kevin Garner
South Wales Police
“Whilst not everyone wants to listen to a Police Officer, I’ve found my police motorcycle, helmet and boots to be the ideal engagement tools to pass on knowledge to the South Wales Biker community.”
“BikeSafe has been built on the commitment, dedication and passion of Police Motorcyclists like PC Kevin Garner, who alongside his regular police duties, has gone above and beyond to reduce casualties and invest in rider safety. We are blessed to have had Kevin working tirelessly on behalf of the motorcyclists who live, work and ride in South Wales and in collaboration with other local road safety groups and local authorities, there is no doubt that Kevin’s dedication will have saved lives and made the roads of South Wales a great deal safer.
2020 is a landmark year for BikeSafe as we enter a new era and look to broaden the reach and scope of the safety and skills uplift message that this vital Police-led scheme promotes. Kevin has laid a solid foundation in South Wales, on which BikeSafe can continue to make a significant difference and we hope that Kevin will continue in these endeavours.”
On behalf of BikeSafe and the National Police Chiefs’ Council,
Nick Adderley, Chief Constable, Northamptonshire Police.
See below for a small selection of historic comments from workshop participants…
An enjoyable and rewarding experience
Having attended at Morriston Fire Station, with two colleagues, I was very impressed with the two-day BikeSafe workshop for Emergency Services personnel. During the experience, I felt there was a good balance between theory and practical elements, where clear tuition and excellent video clips were used which were appropriate and helpful when understanding the varying skills.
All course facilitators were knowledgeable and approachable. The practical debriefs were both positive and constructive which enabled learning to take place in incremental stages. The buffet lunches were very nice and the gifts including a personal copy of Motorcycle Roadcraft were unexpected however very worthwhile and appropriate.
The two days were indeed an enjoyable and rewarding experience. I would like to thank and compliment you as the BikeSafe coordinator for providing high quality learning experiences, which are relevant and promote best practice within the Motorcycling and Road Safety environment.
My I take this opportunity to thank you on behalf of my colleagues and myself for this experience, as we found it invaluable, impressive and an excellent means of personal development. We would welcome any future opportunities. Please pass on our appreciation to your fellow instructors and you Police Superintendent for a fantastic weekend. Thank you again.
Head of Driver Training
Senior Education and Development Lead
Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust
I gained much from attending
As someone who has 40 years motorbike experience, I feel that I must congratulate those involved in organising the BikeSafe workshops. I attended BikeSafe on the 21st and 22nd September 2013, held at Morriston Fire Station. I gained much from attending, proving that we can learn from sharing with others.
It was a really good event. The helpful tips and advice I received from the Officers and volunteer supporters added to my enjoyment. Little things like spotting potential problems and to avoid them, especially common mistakes, all help to make roads safer for all users. I can honestly say that I attended with an open mind, knowing that I would gain much and was not disappointed in any way. Anything which can help motorcyclists is to be encouraged and supported.
I am grateful for the opportunity in attending this workshop and hope that future courses will not be cut in the present financial climate. As someone who often ends up supporting families devastated by tragic events, I feel that anything which supports volunteers to help other riders and ultimately save all the potential costs and misery (both actual and hidden) of road traffic accidents, is to be encouraged and maintained.
Chief Constable Peter Vaughan
South Wales Police
By Rev’d Nigel Doyle
Raising safety awareness and riding standards
I have just completed the Bikesafe workshop of 27th and 28th October 2012 and feel it necessary to express my thanks to all of those involved. The way the workshop was organised and delivered demonstrated a high standard of professionalism and co-operation between the Fire Service, Police Service and local authorities – and should be commended.
Courses like these not only offer excellent value but can only benefit the community by raising safety awareness and riding standards throughout the biking community. I will certainly be recommending this course to fellow riders. Thanks once again, and my best regards to those involved.
Simon J Evans
Technical Compliance Manager
We all know it saves lives
Hi Kevin – Just wanted to pass on my sincere thanks for all the hard work the guys have put into providing an invaluable Bikesafe workshop last weekend. (22nd & 23rd Sept 2012). Eight keen bikers spent two excellent and informative days with Jeff and your colleagues from the Police, Fire, Paramedics and RoSPA crews. Learning about advanced observations, positioning, gears, junctions, hazards, first aid and a wealth of other invaluable orientation to equip us with life-saving skills on how to enjoy biking and be responsible road users. Quite brilliant! Keep up the excellent work. We all know it saves lives and reduces costly emergency expenses. I’ll be taking my RoSPA advanced riding in 2013. Many thanks
(41yrs old, 12yrs biking, all year-all weathers, 10k + European miles pa)
Has encouraged me to look into taking my training further
I am writing to you to both praise and recommend the work of your BikeSafe team. I recently attended a two-day workshop lead by PC Kevin Garner in Cardiff which was informative, practical, relaxed and very thought provoking. The mixture of classroom theory and real on the road experience worked extremely well. Being able to ride whilst under observation from one of your Police Motorcycle officers and receiving immediate feedback, really helped to translate the theory into practice.
I have only recently returned to motorcycling after a gap of 27 years and felt that I needed to obtain some training to acquaint myself with skills and techniques, that I probably never had, but which are really needed with our crowded roads. The BikeSafe course was just right and has encouraged me to look into taking my training further.
Only this week, a few days following the course, I had the opportunity to benefit from a part of the training whilst riding along the M4. Before the course, due to ignorance, I would have put myself into a position on the road, which due to the circumstances at the time would have resulted in me being squashed between a car and the central reservation, when a car suddenly changed lanes without warning or indication. The training from Kevin and his colleagues allowed me to ride in such a way that I was not involved in the incident and now I’m not a statistic or writing to you from a hospital bed.
I hope that you and your force take every opportunity to support and extend this exceptionally valuable service. Not only does it provide lifesaving tuition but it encourages safe and legal riding and puts the motorcycling community alongside the Police. In my opinion, waiting for people to get things wrong on the road and issuing penalty notices does not change attitudes and puts motorcyclists in a negative relationship with the Police. With your limited resources you can only catch a minority of the infringements some of the time however hard you try. The alternative, of training people to get it right and demonstrating the dangers they put themselves and others in, by riding irresponsibly, must be a better solution. It might not mean as many tickets are issued and fines collected but it probably makes our roads safer for everyone.
Would it be possible to allow your patrol officers to offer the BikeSafe course as an alternative to a fixed penalty notice if, in their opinion and depending upon circumstances, they thought it would change the rider for the better? I know that this is done with cars and Driver Improvement Courses so could it not be extended to motorcycles and BikeSafe?
Please pass on my thanks and best wishes to Kevin and his colleagues for an excellent 2-day experience.
Sent (12/08/09) to:
Chief Constable Barbara Wilding
South Wales Police
By: Andrew Staniforth (Cardiff)
Will make me a safer rider
Dear Madam, I feel I needed to make contact/comment regarding a BikeSafe workshop I attended last weekend in Port Talbot. I am an employee of Corus at Port Talbot Works, who, in conjunction with Neath Port Talbot Council arranged the course I attended.
I’d like to praise the excellent work/commitment demonstrated by your team over the weekend. I personally gained a lot from the course which I believe will make me a safer rider. For the ride outs I was paired with Sergeant Paddy Joyce who gave me one to one tuition, which I found to be extremely beneficial and Paddy’s detailed knowledge and excellent communication skills in explaining the finer points of “roadcraft” were gratefully acknowledged. Keep up the good work
Sent (23/04/09) to:
Chief Constable Barbara Wilding
South Wales Police
By: Stephen Grylls