Organisers of the MCE Ulster Grand Prix have launched a ‘Motorcycle Awareness Project’ aimed at young people across Greater Belfast and Lisburn, to encourage the safe use of off-road motorbikes.
The educational cross community pilot scheme, which is the first of its kind in Northern Ireland, is being funded by the Department of Justice under the Assets Recovery Community Scheme, and is supported by the PSNI.
12 young people aged between 13 and 17 have already begun a 12-week programme at David Wood House in the MCE Ulster Grand Prix paddock, with Cornerstone Off-Road Motorcycle Academy appointed by the MCE Ulster Grand Prix to support delivery of the project.
Learning includes a combination of classroom and practical workshop sessions that teach bike safety and riding skills, and participants will leave the course with Certification in Emergency First Aid at Work, a Motor Cycle Union of Ireland Marshal certificate, Basic Maintenance Skills and Basic Riding Skills.
Robert Graham, Chairman of the Dundrod & District Motorcycle Club said: “We’d like to thank the Department of Justice for the funding received to deliver this project, in response to an application we made earlier this year.
“The project is an important part of our ongoing commitment to both motorcycle safety, and to giving back to our local community through the excellent facilities we now have at the paddock in Dundrod.
“The idea is to help reduce the ongoing anti social problem of illegal, damaging and potentially dangerous use of off-road motor vehicles on open ground within estates and other non-designated sites, by educating young people in motorbike safety and giving them a safe place in which to learn how to ride.
“As a Club we understand that more work needs to be done at grass roots level to ensure that young people are educated in motorcycle safety, and that their interest in bikes is channeled in a positive way.
“Participants are now a few weeks into the course and the feedback so far has been very positive, demonstrating the value in running a course like this not just here, but across Northern Ireland in the future,” he added.
Brian Grzymek, from the Department of Justice said: “The Department of Justice is funding this ground breaking pilot programme to promoting the safe and responsible use of off road bikes, the cost of which is being met through the Assets Recovery Community Scheme, using money seized from criminals.”
He continued: “The Ulster Grand Prix and Cornerstone Off-Road Motorcycle Academy are to be commended for their insight and commitment in developing this innovative programme, a potential model for future courses.
“This is an excellent example of how collaborative working between Departments and the community can make a real difference to people’s lives.”
Inspector Rosemary Leech, Roads Policing added: “The inappropriate use of scramblers and quads creates significant road safety risks for riders and indeed any other innocent people in the vicinity. The sad and stark reality is that lives have been lost and others have been radically affected because of collisions involving these machines.
“The foundation of this pilot scheme is a welcome development with enthusiastic experts sharing their knowledge and experience, hoping to inspire and channel the participants towards a safe outlet for their interest.”