Mo­tor­cy­cle safety cour­ses are sav­ing lives


Si­mon Gotlieb had mo­tor­cy­cling in his blood, but is ‘‘100 per cent cer­tain’’ he would have died if he had not had proper train­ing.

Mo­tor­cy­cle safety cour­ses aim to re­duce the num­ber of se­ri­ous crashes as­so­ci­ated with New Zealand’s riski­est mode of trans­port. In 2017 about 16 per cent of all road deaths were mo­tor­cy­clists, yet they make up less than 3 per cent of all road users.

Gotlieb’s fa­ther and grand­fa­ther rode mo­tor­bikes and he learnt to ride at the age of 12, but his life­time of rid­ing in­cluded a life­time of bad habits un­til a friend in­tro­duced him to the Ride For­ever course.

‘‘I found out that I was think­ing I had 30 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence, but it was more 30 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence mak­ing the same mis­take again and again.’’

Gotlieb had been rid­ing his bike along Paeka¯ka¯riki Hill Rd in Porirua to get to and from work for a decade. On Septem­ber 11, a car pulled out of a drive­way in front of him.

‘‘I had been driv­ing down this road for 10 years and I had never paid at­ten­tion to this drive­way.’’

He had about three sec­onds to re­act due to the 80 kilo­me­tre an hour speed limit. He broke his leg and an­kle and re­ceived nerve dam­age to his shoul­der, which caused some paral­y­sis.

‘‘If I hadn’t been do­ing that train­ing, and if I hadn’t learnt how to do emer­gency brak­ing, I’m 100 per cent cer­tain that I would have been dead,’’ he said.

‘‘I’m im­mensely grate­ful for the train­ing.’’

In 2017, 44 mo­tor­cy­clists died and 1309 were in­jured in road crashes – mak­ing up about 10 per cent of all re­ported in­juries on New Zealand roads.

De­creased sta­bil­ity, lower lev­els of pro­tec­tion and less vis­i­bil­ity to other mo­torists give mo­tor­cy­cling a higher level of risk than other modes of trans­port.

A $12.1m three-year in­vest­ment in mo­tor­cy­cle safety ini­tia­tives was launched by ACC on July 1 last year. It’s funded by the mo­tor­cy­cle safety levy, part of mo­tor­bike regis­tra­tion fees, and is over­seen by the Mo­tor­cy­cle Safety Ad­vi­sory Coun­cil.

The Ride For­ever pro­gramme costs rid­ers $50. The bronze level is for be­gin­ner rid­ers and teaches the ba­sics of mo­tor­cy­cle safety, the sil­ver course is for those who have just re­ceived their re­stricted li­cence or are re­turn­ing rid­ers, and the gold level al­lows full li­cence rid­ers to im­prove their safety.

Dan Ornsby has been rid­ing and rac­ing mo­tor­cy­cles since the age of 10 and has pro­vided safety train­ing cour­ses in Christchurch for about five years.

He thinks cour­ses like Ride For­ever should be com­pul­sory for mo­tor­cy­clists as they pro­vide rid­ers with the abil­ity to deal with dan­ger­ous sit­u­a­tions be­fore they hap­pen.

‘‘It’s a day out with like­minded peo­ple with the sole fo­cus of get­ting more out of your rid­ing.’’

Last year, 146,569 mo­tor­cy­cles were on New Zealand’s roads – 6367 more than 2016.


Rider Si­mon Gotlieb in hos­pi­tal af­ter his se­ri­ous mo­tor­cy­cle ac­ci­dent in Porirua in Septem­ber. He cred­its a mo­tor­cy­cling train­ing course, like the one pic­tured left, with his sur­vival.

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