On Sunday I attended the Pro Rider training course in Albany. This course is run by Pro rider who is the designated provider of subsidized training here in Auckland. This is done through ACC (Accident Compensation Corporation) and Auckland Transport. The cost to me personally was $50 with the remaining amount of $200 being subsidised.
Although I have done a lot of training over the last few years and have become an Observer for IAM, I am always open to learn more and improve my skills.
I registered for the course a couple of weeks before the day and the returning email told me I would be sent an email out the week before confirming venue etc. I did end up chasing up the information and eventually got it five days before. I was surprised to see that even though I put done my level as "Experienced"..this course catered to all levels. I really wondered how they were going to manage this.
When I arrived on Sunday I was again surprised to see just 4 instructors for 16 riders. I had expected a better ratio of instructors to riders .
The debrief consisted of a brief discussion on shoulder checks and road rules, before we were shown pictures of where to position our bike on corners. There was no mention of the widely accepted I.P.S.G.A system of motorcycle roadcraft and control (Information, Position, Speed, Gear and Acceleration). This surprised me as it is one of the fundamentals of road-craft training. TUG was only briefly mentioned. (TUG is Take (information), Use (information), Give (information).
The five learners went off by themselves with another instructor and someone else to assist who had no qualifications to be teaching. (I know the person and skill level) This now left three instructors and 11 riders.
We initially rode out west where we would complete several circuits of the same road during the course of the day. My previous doubts as to the level and skill of the instructors began to be raised when I witnessed one of them continually fail to indicate through three roundabouts then ride through roadworks with a designated 30 km/hr speed limit at 70 km/hr . I questioned him and he said that he was doing 50 kms per hour...moot point really. Speed signs at road works are there for a reason.... didn't appreciate my bike getting showered with new gravel either.
I was beginning to get the impression that the level of training I have been getting and was expecting was not going to happen today. In fact, it appeared that the more numbers that were being pushed through the better, with no real consideration of the training quality provided. Important topics were ignored or simple brushed over.Braking was covered with a three minute video at lunch as well as counter steering. No demonstration was given.
The day dragged on with very little feed back to riders. Roadside debriefs consisted of short videos and more pictures to look at. It was one thing to talk about stuff, it is another thing to be taught it, showed it, and given time to put it into practise.
I was further alarmed when being overtaken buy a guy on a 250cc motorbike through the same 30 km/hr work zone I have just mentioned, showering my bike with stones and showing a blatant disregard for other road users. To rub salt in to the wound, none of the instructors mentioned it to him or confronted him about it.
A powerful bit of writing Rog! I think that anyone who knows you is aware of your absolute integrity and the standard of your riding. As a customer, you have every right to express your views, especially as it's from a knowledgeable viewpoint.ReplyDelete
What worries me both as a motorcyclist and taxpayer is how does ACC know they're getting value for money?
Your comment about "People don't know what they don't know" is also pertinent when assessing the standard of training.
Thanks Geoff. I agree with your last comment whole heartdly.Delete
The only thing worse than no rider training is poor rider trainingReplyDelete
thanks for your comment. Well said.Delete
That's kinda scary Roger. How many people have done this course and only this course and gotten nothing of value out of it, then gone out and thought that they are armed with all the knowledge they need to ride safely.ReplyDelete
That this program is subsidised makes you wonder first where the taxpayers money is going and second why isn't the course structure more closely regulated, surely someone out there is telling these trainers what is needed by the program, like instuctor/student ratios and some kind of guideline as to what must be taught like vanishing points and road rules .. this seems basic stuff.
The fact that the instructors did thing like speed through work zones and road incorrectly registered bikes just makes the whole thing a joke doesn't it, and a waste of ereyones time.
Is there any feedback system for you to report your experience to? Would be nice to think that they couldn't continue this obviously shoddy course, specially when peoples lives depend on this training.
Brenda, Thanks for your comment. At the end of the day I have attended a course and provided a review based on my level. I have sent them a copy of this blog. What they chose to do with it is up to them.Delete
Not very flash at all Rog. I hope you've contacted ACC and complained. Both my bikes have current rego so I'd like to know the little bit of it that might be funding those courses is being well spent!ReplyDelete
I am sure that this will come to the relevant peoples attention at some stage. Thanks for your support.Delete
Roger, a very clear and to the point critique of a day's so-called "riding instruction" - I know how you conduct a training / mentored ride and you have every reason to be scathing of this sort of 'training'. The question needing to be answered is "What quality control is there by the funder, ACC, or by an outside agency?"ReplyDelete
I wonder how they would feel if you sent them a copy of your blog? BTW, did they ever realise that you are an IAM Observer?
Hi Mark, I have sent them a copy of my blog. It is only fair. I hope they will address me direct about my concerns. I am not interested in getting into a online argument though. And yes they were aware I was IAM trained.Delete
Quite right not to apologise for the bluntness of the blog!
It would be interesting (worrying) to know what the other riders on the course took away from it - hopefully not a false sense of security.
I note that you make no mention of the course organisers seeking feedback from participants. As motorcyclist and a taxpayer serious cause for concern.
Keith Bishop (had to send as anonymous only because it was the only option I could get to work!) I never hide behind anonimity if I have something to say
Thanks Keith. You are correct that there was very little rider feed back. I appreciate, your comments.Delete
PS I have just seen your posting on KiwiBiker - that will certainly cause much public debate...ReplyDelete
Perhaps both ACC and Auckland Transport should have their attention drawn to your blog.
Thats a very interesting post Roger. Who better to judge a training school than someone like yourself that has passed as an IAM observer.ReplyDelete
At first I thought it may just be a bit of a bagging session, due to the high levels of training you have had. It sounds like this course is for the new rider that has just got his license. How good could a course that costs $50 be really anyways? Is this a government run thing because that would explain everything ie they can't do anything right.
After the appalling actions you have just described then it's no wonder you were pissed off, I would have been too.
I had to pay big dollars to go to race tracks like Eastern Creek Raceway and Wakefield park and did 6-7 advanced Motorcycle techniques road riding courses to learn how to ride properly which ended up costing thousands of dollars to which every cent was well worth it in my opinoin. I've since done track days but these are more speed focused rather than good smooth riding technique as there are no teachers there to critic your riding so bad habits can creep back into your riding.
If this school is government funded then they need a great big kick in the ass, as most of this stuff shouldn't happen. No rego, not observing the most basic road rules(Stop sign). I'm no saint either and have broken speed limits etc but not like these things you've described.
There is obviously no value for money in this course if they are not teaching the right things, and it could even end up being bad for the riders as they may be doing things wrong but with no feedback they will continue to do these things.
Crazy stuff Rog.
I'm not sure what IAM costs in comparision but from what I've read on yours and Geoffs blog there is no comparision. You only get what you pay for. If you pay for crap you'll get crap.
Mate, well said! You hit the nail on the head with your comments. All of which I agree with.....holy shit a just agreed with a Aussie, I must be losing my touch!Delete
Wow, it is a shame that there are "classes" out there like this. If people have a bad experience with training classes they are reluctant to take another. On the other hand they might not know they are getting crappy training and think that is how they need to ride.ReplyDelete
I think if tax paying dollars are being spent to subsidize this training the ACC and Transport division need to be made aware of the condition of their courses.
Maybe get other IAM Observers to sign up for the class to see if it is different with different classes and if not, everyone can get together and complain. The more complaints they get from the professional riders the more likely they are to take a hard look at their standards. Or at least one could hope they would.
If palms are being greased and they are just going through the motions to get funding nothing will improve it.
Thanks Brandy. It is up to Pro-rider to take from my review what they want and improve the systems. Will keep you up to date with progress.Delete
I'm intrigued about a photocopy of the vanishing point -ReplyDelete
What was it, a blank sheet of A4??
Well this is a depressing thing, honestly when someone signs up for a course that is going to further their skills subsidized or not it should be top notch and really give the person a new skill set. It is extremely discouraging that a senior level rider and instructor would ride a bike that is not properly insured and blow through traffic zones at a higher rate of speed. Seriously what is that teaching the motorcyclists that are there to learn? Good grief. I hope someone in the transportation department who funds this project sees your post and investigates. Bad training does nothing to promote safe motorcycling habits.ReplyDelete
Your last sentance is an appropiate sentance..well said.Delete
I think you said what you wanted to say. I can only imagine how frustrated you must have been as the day wore on and on and on. The particular line which caught my eye was: "...it appeared that the more numbers that were being pushed through the better." One of the reasons I took my training at a Community College rather than at a motorcycle dealership was this exact fear. I feared the emphasis at the dealership would be to get the folks through the class and onto bikes, in other words to create customers rather than riders. I had a good experience in the class I took and have thought of repeating it since the advanced classes here do not allow "scooters." Your blog made me aware of how fortunate I was to have had the experience I did.
Thanks keith, I appreciate your toughts on the matter, some wise words indeed.Delete
A very interesting post. I'm sorry to hear the course was poor but not surprised. When courses/services are 'oursourced' but govenment bodies, the dynamic seems to change. The emphasis shifts from 'getting a good outcome' to 'going through the process'. It often stops being about people and what they need to learn a skill and instead becomes a numbers game and this is made worse when government seeks 'best value' - a term that in the hands of a bureaucrat means 'cheapest'.ReplyDelete
Unfortunately, this suits the trainers, who can cut the number and quality of staff and go for a bums-on-seats volume of sales approach that pleases the govenment because they can point to hundreds of 'successful' graduates as proof that they are doing something. (Those boxes don't tick themselves you know!)
The course participants don't really matter because they aren't the main paymasters.
The UK is awash with stuff like this for everything from 'health and safety' stuff through specific 'competencies' for trades and (topical at the moment), useless courses supposed to help people find work. Very depressing.
Thank you My Stoat for your comments, I think you have hit the nail on the head.Delete
Evidently the sticker didn't work :)ReplyDelete
I wonder if a formal letter and an invitation from the IAM would open the lines of communication? This could be an opportunity to work together with ACC and Auckland Transport to develop a better training program all around. Once established, Pro-Riders could train new riders in which the IAM could glean potential students and instructors/observers.
No the sticker didnt work....:(Delete
A formal letter has been sent.
Hi Roger, Geoff passed on the link to your blog which I read with interest.ReplyDelete
My company was one of the ones who put in a tender for this contract and after appointing 3 national trainers ACC placed us fourth. By the sounds of it I didn't miss out!Prior to the tender we were ACC providers running $50 courses at a much higher standard than this.
One of the big reasons for them rejecting us was our slightly higher course costs and lower numbers per course - usually 2 people max 3 people.
We do this for 2 main reasons.
#1 safety. any more than 3 is really hard for any instructor to keep tabs on and exponentially increases the risk of something bad happening.
#2 Quality , having a small number of riders allows a more personal touch, enabling me to train to the riders needs and have enough time to see growth in the skills we are trying to impart. Our higher (than $200) course costs reflect this on both counts above.
I am dismayed at some of the things they have done, lack of feedback and even fundamental training that was not seemingly given. I have had large groups in car park situations working on slow skills stuff and that is hard enough to handle even with the occasional help of some IAM buddys, but taking that number on the road is madness in my humble opinion.
Did you actually see the qualifications ( I endorsement on their licence) of the 'instructors' as that is something we always do at the start of each course in the 'ice breaker' time talking about who we are , why we have come, what we want to learn and what experience level we are at. I would suggest that anyone undergoing motorcycle training checks the credentials of their instructor before parting with their hard earned cash!
It just goes to show the old adage really is true ' you get what you pay for'
Very disappointing that ACC have created a training monopoly ( using tax payers money) with these $50 courses that no other motorcycle trainer can compete with on price and yet have courses running like this that disappoint so much.
We have never had one of our courses finish without participants ( even experienced police riders) saying they have learned new skills and thoroughly enjoyed the day.
In regards to IAM for those who are interested ( I am an Examiner of the advanced motorcycle test) the first years membership is just $90, after that it costs $40/year. In your first year you will be appointed a mentor in the 'skills for life' programme - someone like Roger or Geoff ( an observer), who will ride out with you regularly and encourage you in motorcycle road-craft skills so you become a safer, smoother, more aware and accomplished rider. When you are ready they will encourage you to go for your advanced test( you don't have to but if they think you are ready you should give it a go!)
Benfits of IAM if you need any other than being safer on your two wheels ( which is worth $$$$$$$$ just ask your Mrs or partner), full members get insurance discount to recognise their lower risk, and get the opportunity to be part of one of the best road safety organisations in the world!
Taking a liberty here but - anyone interested in quality professional training on the south island - either one on one or in small groups contact me through our website www.2drivesafe.com or for more info about IAM go to www.nz-iam.org.nz
Hi Duncan, thanks to contributing to this blog, you make some extremly relevant points which many people wont even be aware of. This whole subsidised training debacle seems to have done more damage than good.Delete
Your two main reasons why you missed out on the contract are the very reasons people should ignore these low levels of traing and seek out good quality training reguardless of price.
Keep on the good work in CHCH , I hear great things happening down there.
Its a good thing to have bike instructors around you once in a while. By so doing you get to understand motorcycles in depth. Am glad you had the time to go to such an event and finding the grace to share the experience. Good job. Touring Bike PartsReplyDelete
Roger, congratulations on a very courageous post. It is immensely disappointing that tax payer's dollars are being wasted on such an unaccountable program. Worse still, the poor message and role models that inexperienced riders get about what is OK as a motorcyclist.ReplyDelete
Wow, not kool at all!ReplyDelete
I have just completed Level 2 of Californian Super Bike School, a bit different in the cost, and I have nothing but praise for the experience and new skills I learned, that will keep me safer on our roads. One tutor to 3 bikes, all tutors were fully trained and experienced. A must for anyone of any skill level. Read Twist of the wrist before you go - ti helps getting a little insight prior to the full on day
Roger , Len here from scootering adventures .....the guy with the vespa gts300.....
I still read regularly the posts you guys put out ...I still have the vespa ... Not much riding though .... Had major work issues .... Things are improving though all the time ..
Roger I would like to personally thank you for a piece of advice you gave me in nov/dec 2011!!
You told me to change my wording on my vespa review to make it rank higher in google...I did this and it really as helped me like you wouldn't believe ...I have used my blog for my job and I don't know where I would be now without the advice you gave me .
Len@RE-GLAZE-IT (scootering adventures)
NO worries Len, Glad I could be of help. I hope you have a great summer.Delete
Young Geoff James sent me the link to your post, I have yet to follow it onto Kiwi biker. Top marks for exposing inadequate teaching pretences and even more marks for having the gonads to speak publicly.....bikers have a hard enough time staying safe even with "proper" training. Will look forward to talking with Duncan.
Thanks Dylan, the only worse thing than no training is bad training.Delete
Your posting this and making your concerns known may just save some lives. Sounds like the "instructors" only use this as a tool to get out and ride and get payed in the process. They are treating it as a joke.ReplyDelete
Continuing education is so important and its sad you experienced bad education first hand... and others too. Serious teachers need to be at hand for motorcyclists. We pay for it for a reason, that is our skills.ReplyDelete
You can never do enough training, but it has to be of good quality. Enjoy your suimmer!Delete
I was going to plonk $50.00 of my hard earned dollars on this course as a returning rider but now you've saved me the money! Thanks Terry.ReplyDelete
Industry is rife with this sort of inadequacy - Bikers are taxed an additional $30.00 per bike registered to fund the now notorious Motor Cycle Safety Advisory Group which thru its mouthpiece MotoNZ is little more than a Govt stooge that moves at glacial speed on pursuing safety initiatives. Bike magazines continue to glamourise high speed road rockets on a wink wink nudge nudge basis and fail to honestly report the farcical unsafe handling of chopper or cruiser style bikes with their overly wide tyres, elongated wheel bases, unsafe steering rake angles, poor seating position and footpeg placement that doesn't allow body English input. Pardon my cynicism but this is reality.ReplyDelete
Well said Mate, I perhaps some one who knows nothing will get some thing out of this training, but i personally recomend one on one advnced rider training with some one who's reputation is good. Thanks for your comments, they bring another perspective to this blog thanks.Delete
I am in the process of launching a motorcycle & car advanced rider/driver training course, based on the Roadcraft system, which I hasten to add, saved my leather's and their contents on more than one occasion while performing my duties for Her Majesty on distant shores.
Can you advise with reference to the aforementioned course you took, was a communications system provided for students atttending the course?
Hi mate, there was no comms system provided, considering the numbers I expected that it was impossiable to do so.Delete