The force behind the pedals

Five members of the Bendigo Police cycling club posing at the police station with their bikes

May the force be with you: officers at the Bendigo police station couldn't fit in with regular bunch rides, so they formed their own club. Photo: Bendigo Police

Who would have thought that some chit chat around the smoko table and the desire to share time on the road together would see in a relative short time the formation of the Bendigo Police Cycling Club? Back in 2007 the idea was mooted “why don’t a few of us get together train up and ride the Bicycle Victoria Smith Family Bay in a Day?” Most of the police members being shift workers found it hard to integrate into the existing community bunch ride structure, it soon became so popular having a training partner or partners was not an issue.

The idea growing over the past couple of years is now a 20 plus strong cycling group all members are integral and employees to Victoria Police. Current riders experience is across the board with competitive cyclists to complete novices. The youngest member of the group is 24 and the senior statesmen are both 52. The average age is about 37 years. Some of the club cyclists getting started into cycling through competing in the RACV Energy Breakthrough in Maryborough in about 1999. Membership is not strictly limited to those in the police force – family members and ex-members can also join.

Although the concept of a cycling club came from the members of the force, senior staff have been supportive and affirming of the formation of the club recognising that the benefits and positive outcomes far outweigh any negatives. Workplace individuals are much healthier and fitter not to mention in most cases much more at ease which has to be a huge benefit for the public and the police alike. The newly formed club has been granted funding from the fitness and lifestyle department of the force. Bendigo Police does have a bike patrol that is still active and works on a needs basis and when staffing allows. The club has presented an opportunity to extend work and recreation for the members that are part of the patrol resources group.

Having participated now in three consecutive years Round the Bay in a Day and the last two Otways Classic are reaching further a field in early January 2010 to support their counter parts in South Australia. The South Australian Police Force and Police Members Credit Union are the Gold Sponsors of “Ride Like Crazy”. In October 2008 Senior Sergeant Mick “Crazy” Koerner of the South Australia Police was diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumour. His work colleagues and friends established a cycling event called “Ride Like Crazy”. On 22 January 2009, more than 600 riders took part in the fundraising event. Due to the overwhelming success of Ride Like Crazy, South Australia Police has adopted the ride as a community event.

Ride Like Crazy 2010 will continue the event’s legacy of promoting the fight against cancer, with all profits supporting the Women’s and Children’s Hospital Foundation Inc. and the Neurosurgical Research Foundation Inc. This has also been a motivation for the local members to see their vision and charter to find their niche in the local cycling community. They are also mindful that each year, on average, 35 cyclists are killed and over 2,500 are seriously injured on our roads and many more incidents go unreported (taken from the Amy Gillett Website). The majority of these collisions involve a motor vehicle and most are preventable.

While presently there is a major focus on fund raising and long distance events there is a desire to extend into the areas of road safety. Being part of the job that is difficult is attending traffic accidents scenes and having to follow-up long after the trauma has passed in the eyes of the public. With this in mind the Cycling Club would remind all road users, cyclist and motorists alike that the road laws are there to promote safe sharing of the road. The groups members are certainly open to assisting all road users with the road safe message.

Well what next? The club is seeking any local businesses that would like to sponsor the road safety message and have their business logo’s on the cycling kit that is being designed. This won’t be readily identifying the group as police members to road users however the local cycling community will soon realise whose shirts they are. There will be the departmental approval for the designs and sponsors.

See you on the road soon God willing.

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