Strength in numbers

A passion for reducing motorcycle casualties

As a road policing specialist a major part of my work is promoting road safety. I don’t really class myself as a biker, as aside from thrashing an old 50 cc moped around the woods as a child, I didn’t ride a motorcycle until I was in my 40’s.

Having worked in most areas of uniformed policing, I was appointed to lead a road crime team. Part of this role was to gain qualification as an advanced police motorcyclist. Despite this being a significant and challenging undertaking, I was soon bitten by the biking bug.

The role required that I complete Compulsory Basic Training (CBT), followed by a Direct Access course and then straight onto a BMW R1200RT police motorcycle to take my ‘standard course’ and with this, so into the world of Roadcraft. After several months of consolidation and the assistance of many serving police motorcyclists, who were all far more experienced than I was (and there were some fantastic riders amongst them), I completed my ‘advanced course’ and then onto SEG (VIP Escort) training.

This all gives me a fairly unique view of motorcycling, as I only know how to ride to the police system of motorcycle control and I’ve not had time to develop any bad habits along the way. These things, along with my work as a road casualty lead investigator, have further developed my passion for reducing motorcyclist casualties.

The value of this collaboration is clear to see

For many years I have organised motorcyclist engagement events to ’begin the conversation’ and signpost riders onto advanced motorcycle training. Alongside this, I have also enjoyed contact with a great many bikers as a ROSPA advanced examiner.

Through these opportunities, both nationally and locally, I’ve experienced positive teamwork and many excellent initiatives – all focused on improving rider safety and standards of advanced riding. Some ‘silo thinking’ does still exist, but collaboration is on the increase, stake holders do seem to be recognising the value of pulling together (perhaps even sharing budget) and there is a great deal of optimism for what is yet to be achieved.

Working in partnership with Highways England, professional motorcyclist’s from the three main emergency services (police, fire and ambulance) are exploring such collaborative opportunities and it’s good to see a number of positive outcomes developing.

Not all bikers are keen to engage with the police but when approached by a doctor, paramedic or fireman, there can be greater opportunity for engagement. Should they then go on to attend BikerDown (an element of which is often presented by a police officer), then barriers are further reduced and the uptake of BikeSafe workshop places also increases. This in turn leads to more riders committing to formal post-test training with the DVSA (Enhanced Rider Scheme), IAM and/or RoSPA.

The value of this collaboration is clear to see and I hope the day will come where riders throughout the UK will have the opportunity to talk with a DocBike representative and to attend both a BikerDown and BikeSafe course through their respective local Ambulance Service, Fire Service and Police Force.

There is strength in numbers and it is a collaborative approach that will contribute to further reductions in our national motorcycle KSI data.

Sergeant Rob Gilligan
Central Motorway Police Group
Staffordshire Police