Columbus police get grant for motorcycle

Published 9:28 pm Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Columbus Police Chief Chris Beddingfield “drags a knee” through the corner this year at a “track day” at Carolina Motorsports Park in Kershaw, S.C. (photo submitted)

Grant hits home for motorcycle enthusiast chief
The Columbus Police Department will be the first in the area to add a motorcycle to its fleet.
Columbus Police Chief Chris Beddingfield said he is especially excited to receive this grant because he is a lifetime motorcycle racer and enthusiast.
Columbus Town Council met Thursday, Sept. 15 and accepted a $36,950 grant from the N.C. Governor’s Highway Safety Program for the purchase of a motorcycle. The grant is 100 percent funded by the state, requiring no match from the town.
The grant will completely fund the cost of a new motorcycle and all equipment needed, including uniform, helmet, radio, lights and siren. The grant also includes funding for training of two officers to become certified. The department currently has two officers with motorcycle licenses.
Beddingfield said the bike will be more of an educational tool for Columbus than an enforcement tool.
“Motorcycle use has been on a steady rise for some time and with that increase accompanies a need for safety education and accident prevention,” Beddingfield said. “Even though the equipment will be used for enforcement activities, the main focus will be education and community relations.”
Beddingfield said he’s spent more time in his life on two wheels than four as he began riding motorcycles at age four.
“Motorcycling is not just a hobby for me, it’s a lifestyle,” he said.
His father was into drag racing, which led to a mini-bike and a small, oval dirt track in Beddingfield’s back yard.
“I couldn’t even touch the ground [on my first bike],” Beddingfield said. “My parents would hold the bike until I got it cranked and rolling and I would stop and put the kick stand out and let the bike fall over on the stand when I was done.”
Beddingfield rode a motorcycle almost every day when he was very young, and when he was tall enough got into motocross-style bikes. The family turned the backyard track into a figure-eight-style dirt track.
Until Beddingfield was about 16 years old, he raced motocross all over North and South Carolina.
Then he became interested in sport/ninja-type motorcyles for several years, but in his early 20s, Beddingfield went back to motocross racing and won several championships.
“I wouldn’t trade those times for anything,” Beddingfield said. “I got to travel and race all over the eastern U.S., meeting tons of people and friends that I still have contact with today.”
Beddingfield still attends national motocross races as a spectator and follows the sport.
His interest in racing and street riding more recently has brought him to organized track days, where drivers race the clock instead of other racers. About seven years ago, Beddingfield purchased a used Yamaha R6 road race bike. He obtained his road-racing license and he still participates in track days on a regular basis. He said he hopes to become quick enough to be competitive on the amateur road racing scene.
“I have been injured and seen many injuries and even fatalities occur on motorcycles,” Beddingfield said. “Today many people have never ridden a motorcycle and will go purchase the biggest most powerful bike you can buy, take no training and then crash and wonder why.”
Beddingfield said he firmly believes the key to keeping motorcycle drivers safe is through education and training.
“What better way for me to contribute than through this governor’s highway safety program,” he said.
The town will likely not purchase the new bike until next spring when warmer weather arrives.

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