Russell rode the first and the last
By Melina Schamroth
Staff Reporter, Hastings
It was “just like old times” for Russell Coddington when he sat on the Ministry of Transport’s last patrol motorcycle when it stopped in Hastings yesterday.
The motorcycle is being ridden around New Zealand to raise money for KIDS (Kids with Immune Deﬁciencies Society) before it is delivered to Len Southwood’s [Southward’s] car museum in Paraparaumu at the end of the month, signalling the end of an era for the Transport Ministry.
Sitting on the motorcycle yesterday had a special significance for Mr Coddington.
In 1951, he became New Zealand’s first trafﬁc officer to patrol on a motorcycle. Mr Coddington was stationed at New Plymouth and was issued with one of only two motorcycles to be used by the Transport Ministry.
“The bikes were a lot different then, and so was the equipment we wore,” he said.
“In those days we wore an ordinary cap with an extra band that went around the chin to keep it on, gloves, oilskin jackets, and bicycle clips.
“There were no crash helmets in those days,” he said.
Mr Coddington, who retired from his position as Hawke’s Bay’s chief traffic instructor three years ago, said the motorcycles provided a very efﬁcient means of traffic patrol.
“They could get through a big density of trafﬁc – but they weren’t so good in winter,” he said.
MOT motorcycles became a thing of the past in Hawke’s Bay in October last year.
The Ministry of Transport had a “marvellous” safety record with the motorcycles, Mr Coddington said.
“There have been remarkably few accidents for the millions of kilometres travelled on them,” he said.
It has travelled more than 3500km around New Zealand since November 4. The ride started at Bluff and went through the South Island, up the North Island to Whangarei, and is on its return to Paraparaumu.
More than 500 people have ridden the bike on its last tour – the only prerequisites being a donation, and a current motorcycle licence.
It has been ridden by celebreties [celebrities] including Sir Richard Hadlee, and mayors.
Photo caption – Mr Coddington shown aboard his first patrol bike in 1951 (insert) and the last one yesterday.