Three constables end 1152km road-safety ride in Civic Square

News from NZ Police
The ‘Coppers on Choppers’ road trip ends this morning when the team is welcomed to Wellington’s Civic Square by Associate Minister of Transport Michael Woodhouse and Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown.

Waitemata District Community Constables Grant Kenny, Megan D’Oliveira and Rob Gormly have been riding from Cape Reinga to Wellington, a 1152km ride, visiting schools and communities to raise awareness and spread the message of cycle and scooter safety and hopefully reduce the trauma on our roads.

National Manager Road Policing Supt. Carey Griffiths says the constables have done an amazing job in not only completing the road trip but with engaging with kids, their parents and the wider community to deliver road safety messages.

Inspector Shanan Gray, North Shore Area Commander says the team put a lot of hardwork into their cycle, scooter and driveway safety performance, “The Coppers on Choppers team performed to more than 6000 kids throughout the North Island, it’s quite likely that those children will remember those safety messages and we hope this in turn means at the very least one cycle, scooter or driveway accident will be prevented.”

The idea was born as the trio of constables discussed cycle safety. Being parents, they were motivated to educate kids about cycle, scooter and driveway safety after seeing a number of near-miss accidents and riders without helmets in their daily work.

“We really wanted to encourage kids, parents and the community to be safe when on the road and wear a helmet” Mr Gormly says.

“This trip was an enormous challenge but the response from the schools and the communities we have visited has made it all worth it”

Ms D’Oliveira says “people have seen us riding and have given us a supportive toot or an encouraging word and you don’t often get that when you are in a police car”.

The ride began on Sunday November 24, with the team riding two at a time, and the third driving the support vehicle and was supported by ACC.

ACC Community Injury Prevention Consultant, Jennifer Venimore, says ACC was pleased to support this campaign to help our kids be safer when riding their bicycles, which is a great form of physical activity. The kids who’ve been involved have shown excellent retention of the safety messages given to them, which has been great to see.

“Last year, ACC received at least 26,000 cycle-related injury claims, so cycling doesn’t come without risks. ACC is currently looking at other ways we can work with partners, such as the Police, to support future bicycle-focused injury prevention initiatives.”

To complete the 1152km journey, the team had to ride an average of 80 kms per day on the Mark III Raleigh Choppers. The bikes designed for style rather than speed were adapted to fit and the gears improved, reflecting how much New Zealand Roads have changed the Choppers were popular in the late 70′s.

Grant Kenny says riding choppers started a number of conversations with people and I think some adults were taken back to their childhood. They also had a cool factor which meant the kids loved them!

The ‘Coppers on Choppers’ team visited over 19 Primary Schools with around 6,553 students having seen the cycle and scooter safety presentation which involves the Choppers, eggs and an adult sized scooter.

At community events such as the Fielding A&P Show, the team set up the Sneaky Driveway and confidence/obstacle course which also involves laying out a track and have small children standing on it to display blind spots.

The team also visited the Cambridge Velodrome, Waiouru Army Camp and the Royal New Zealand Police College to inspire current recruits to think outside the square when delivering prevention messages within the communities they will soon be working in.

In preparation for the trip the team had trained for months, riding the choppers on the street, training on stationary exercise bikes and working with a nutritionist. And now that the trip has concluded the team will continue to promote the road safety messages but is looking forward to resting their legs.

“It’s been an amazing experience and hard work but well worth it. But I am definitely looking forward to having a good rest now…..sitting in a hot spa sounds good right now!” says Mr Kenny

“I’m really thankful to all those that have supported us on the journey, our colleagues, our family, ACC, the communities and schools were visited and the kids we saw says Mr Gormly

“I think we may treat ourselves a little and celebrate the trip with friends and family tonight before heading home and back to work says Ms D’Oliveira

“I hope we have made a difference and together families will look after themselves and others when using the road. We just want kids to stay safe when having fun on their bikes and scooters says Mr Kenny.

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