Corrections go by bike

16 February 2016

Department of Corrections sites across the country supported Bike Wise national Go By Bike day last week.

Wednesday 10 February marked the annual Go by Bike Day - a one-day event where Kiwis ditch their cars, trains or buses and cycle to work or school. Corrections embraced this initiative and at some sites, corrections officers already use bikes to get from the gatehouse to the units and around the prison.

“The wellbeing of staff is a priority for the Department,” says Deputy National Commissioner Rachel Leota. Motivating staff to get active and bike to work encourages our staff to lead a healthy lifestyle and supports our philosophy that when we are fit and well, we can be most effective in our roles.”

It’s not just about staff “going by bike”. Prisoners and offenders around the country are also getting involved, building bike tracks and repairing bikes which allows them to gain constructive life and employment skills while giving back to the community.

Corrections aims to provide quality employment activities, the opportunity to attain recognised qualifications, and vocational training.

“By assisting prisoners to reintegrate into the community, they are less likely to re-offend,” says Mrs Leota. “Getting offenders involved in repairing bikes and these community projects teaches them valuable employment skills that can help them find sustainable work after release. It also gets them thinking about their own health and wellbeing, and encourages them to make more positive lifestyle choices.”

Across the regions, Corrections has a range of initiatives involving the use of bikes that take place all year round.

  • Since November 2015, prisoners from Northland Region Corrections Facility have been involved in the development and maintenance of over 40 bike trails the 70k-long world -class Waitangi Mountain Bike Park (WMBP) in Bay of Islands. The NRCF crew is there five days a week from 7.30am to 1pm and is helping clear the way through gorse and pine slash before the diggers can get to work shaping the trails.
  • Community offenders in Napier and prisoners in Tongariro / Rangipo Prison and Hawke’s Bay Regional Prison, are giving back to the community by fixing unclaimed bikes that were stolen or damaged and had been recovered by Police. The newly repaired bikes are then donated to the local community and school children.
  • In Whanganui, community-based offenders are involved in on-going maintenance of Araheke Mountain Bike Park near Whanganui Prison.
  • In Bell Block near New Plymouth, offenders on community work do weekly grounds maintenance at the Velodrome. Other activities at the Velodrome include building a mini BMX track and tree-planting.  
  • Offenders working with Invercargill Community Corrections help maintain Graham Cockcroft Cycle Park, providing services including weeding, mowing lawns, sweeping road areas.
  • Offenders from Greymouth, Hokitika, Ross and further south have been helping construct the West Coast Cycleway Trail for more than six years. The workers started off scrub and gorse cutting and moving dirt. Five years on, alongside a group of keen local helpers, the offenders have helped with planting trees and clearing scrub along the new Ross section of the cycle trail; planting more than 2000 trees in two weeks. With the final section of the trail being opened on 24 October last year, the offenders will now be assisting with further development and maintenance work.
  • Staff at Christchurch Men’s Prison Youth Unit are working on a new initiative to get young prisoners repairing old bikes that have been left around the site. The prisoners have begun building a bike stand and have been collecting the old bikes, getting them ready to fix up. The initial aim is to supply a bike to each Low Security Unit, for staff to respond to emergency situations.