Ride Forever is an ACC initiative, aimed at giving riders sound information and access to training, so they can make better choices.
Ride Forever was established in 2009 after we've identified two looming issues.
The first was that, after a period through the 1990s when motorcycles shrank in popularity, motorcycling was booming again. With more people riding, many of them ‘born again’ and lacking recent experience–crashes, injuries and fatalities were rising fast.
The second was the realisation that conventional safety messaging and programmes just would not resonate with the majority of riders. Motorcyclists knew their passion involved risk and accepted it.
What was needed was a way to engage with riders and find solutions they would take up and endorse.
Early aims of Ride Forever
Ride Forever was born with a mandate to start a conversation with riders, supply valuable information and encourage them to make better choices. A team was put together that included experts in riding, journalism and in managing social change.
- Building the first version of this website
- Creating content that motorcyclists wanted to read
- Providing sound advice on better riding, choosing gear, etc
- Encouraging riders to hone their skills and undertake some training
- Having a presence at motorcycle events and in some media
- Distributing leaflets and posters in appropriate places
- Forging partnerships with NZTA (Whaka Kotahi), NZ Police and other important agencies (later on including MSAC).
Measuring results is always hard, but Ride Forever’s early efforts seemed to bear fruit.
The popularity of riding continued to sky-rocket but accidents, injuries and fatalities levelled off. Unfortunately, they were still at a high level and the cost to ACC was significant. Despite increases in motorcycle registration costs, riders were still only covering around a quarter of the actual funds required to cover treatment, rehabilitation and income support.
Creating a rider training programme
Making good advice available and encouraging better decisions only goes so far. By far the most effective way of increasing rider skill is training. But its availability in New Zealand was patchy, there were no national standards and the cost was a barrier for some riders.
Phase two for Ride Forever was to create a consistently high-quality, nationally-available rider training programme. With the backing of ACC, this could be subsidised to make it affordable for any rider. From our perspective, the subsidy would be an investment with a return in reduced accidents and associated claims cost.
It was an enormous task. Evaluating and recruiting the expert trainers was an obvious challenge. Courses needed to be developed with a consistent, effective syllabus worked out for each one. Riders had to be told about it, understand what was on offer and be willing to try it.
A nationally available advanced rider training programme
It was to be a world-first and remains unique. Nowhere else in the world has created a nationally available advanced rider training programme.
Despite the challenges, Ride Forever on-road coaching was launched nationally in 2014 with three hand-picked training providers stretching across the entire country.
In the first year, over 1,200 riders took a Ride Forever course. The next year, that doubled. In 2017 it doubled again, and the aim for 2019 was 10,000 riders. More coaching providers have been evaluated and brought into the fold, meaning coverage nationwide is better than ever, offering a choice of provider wherever you are in the country.
Meanwhile, Ride Forever continues to engage riders in person at major motorcycle events, such as the Ride Forever-Sponsored NZ Motorcycle Show, via content on the website and through our popular Ride On newsletter.
Success to date
To date, around 16,000 riders have completed at least one Rider Forever course. But has it had the desired effect?
Being definitive about something so important demands sound statistical analysis. Being linked to a government department such as ACC means the figures have to be checked multiple times and cross-checked by multiple departments. So it has taken some time but we can proudly state that, yes, Ride Forever coaching is working. And working well.
Comparing a statistically robust sample of roughly 3,000 riders, against an equal-size, demographically-matched control sample, taking at least one Ride Forever course reduced the incidence of having a crash by 27% and the associated claims cost by 45%. In other words, Ride Forever-trained riders crash less often, and the crashes they do have are on average less severe.
The Ride Forever team, nearly all of whom are passionate motorcyclists, looks forward to continuing to provide expert advice, compelling content and world-class rider coaching. So you can enjoy riding way into the future. Hence the name: Ride Forever.
Look out for us at motorcycling events all around the country, be sure to introduce yourself and say hi.
Please get in touch with us if you have any comments or questions.