The insider's guide to Ride Forever

The insider's guide to Ride Forever

Ride Forever is now in its tenth year! And what a year. Injury Prevention Partners Jon Booth and Pete Daly talk about how things have been going as Motorcycle Awareness Month approaches.

Motorcycle Awareness Month has been on the calendar for a few years now. The initiative was conceived with other road safety partners such as Waka Kotahi and Police, and the month in question has previously been September. But in our topsy-turvy, Covid-affected world, this year it has been delayed until October.

For those involved, it means they’re right in the thick of things now, planning how this very particular year will pan out. Putting aside their busy workload, programme managers Jon and Pete made time to give their perspective on how awareness month and other Ride Forever initiatives will pan out in 2020.

Although they both ride, Pete and Jon are at different ends of the spectrum in terms of experience. Pete is an ex-Police rider and Ride Forever instructor while Jon is going through the process of getting his full licence. This gives the pair a handy difference in perspective on riding and riders’ attitudes.

For Pete, his journey is characterised by learning to ride in an era without professional training, and the contrast with going through the Police roadcraft system. “I used to ride a lot and I thought I was doing okay, because I didn’t have a lot of accidents” says Pete. “I think many riders are the same: because they haven’t crashed their bike they think they’re doing fine. But once I started riding to a system I realised I was no longer having what I call those ‘pucker moments’, I’m not having things go wrong for me. And that flows into enjoying riding more.” Pete used his skills and knowledge to instruct in the Ride Forever coaching programme before going into a managerial role.

Both Pete and Jon are keen to emphasise that, while the coaching effort is central, there’s a lot more to Ride Forever than the courses. Spreading good information is one example, whether that’s to do with riding, choosing and looking after gear, or even bike maintenance.

Ride Forever has sponsored the NZ Motorcycle Show for several years

Ride Forever has sponsored the NZ Motorcycle Show for several years

In more normal times staging events is a big part of the effort, ranging from roadside coffee stalls in Motorcycle Awareness Month to sponsoring the New Zealand Motorcycle Show, to organising the Shiny Side Up Bike Fests and Talks Series nationwide. These are invaluable in helping drive awareness and engagement with riders, as Jon makes clear. “It’s really about having a two-way conversation, giving people the opportunity to ask questions of us as well.” Of course events like Shiny Side Up are also treasure troves of information, “We cover the whole picture of motorcycle safety, not just the training,” says Jon. “You’ll see in summer the number of people riding around in a T-shirt or shorts, so we educate people and explain the importance of wearing the right gear.”

Suspension guru Dave Moss is always a drawcard at Shiny Side Up events

Suspension guru Dave Moss is always a drawcard at Shiny Side Up events

With Motorcycle Awareness Month taking a different shape this year Jon, Pete and the rest of the team are aiming to get creative in spreading the word. “More will be done online,” Pete explains. “The intention was always going to be each week of the month will feature a different pillar of what we do. So one week was going to be about the training programme, one week about roads and roadsides, another about protective gear et cetera, and the structure will remain broadly the same.”

Awareness of what Ride Forever does in some of these spaces is patchy. On roads and roadsides, for example, Pete highlights how Ride Forever is working with Waka Kotahi to install under-run barriers on selected sections of Armco barrier. “It’s an example of where we work with other agencies on things other than training. MotoCAP is another and we’ll feature that within the gear-focussed week of awareness month.”

So, a rather different Motorcycle Awareness Month awaits in 2020 but still plenty to look forward to. Be sure to check in at facebook.com/RideForeverNZ to learn what’s in store and send your feedback.