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Motorcycle safety

Eddie Mair | 17:55 UK time, Thursday, 29 March 2007

People clearly want to talk about that too. Do it here! Mike R posted this on another thread...

Sorry, Eddie, I would just like to comment on the motorbike piece that we just heard.
The gentleman motorcyclist is absolutely correct to point out the abyssmal standards of driving that are becoming the norm amongst many car users. This applies equally to new drives and experienced drivers. Both have learned bad habits. Experienced drivers have learned them over many years of battling with congestion, during which the temptation to break the law and rules of etiquette have been too much and have now become the norm. Younger drivers, literally, learn their bad habits through the media, laddish culture and games consoles. I speak from the experience of talking to several A-level college students of my acquaintance who have told me that they drive "properly" for the test, but as soon as they get their own car, they drive how they want to drive. They acknowledge that its not safe, but then, I got the sense that they didnt care.
btw the apostrophe key doesnt work, it keeps accessing some kind of search function.
Anyway, yes, there are bad motorcyclists, but there are far more bad car drivers.
The Governments approach to this is familar. Theyre going after the easy target again. In the same way that the Home Office chases successful, law abiding immigrants because theyre easier to find and deport than the real criminals who drop off the radar, so the Government look at the statistics and see that motorcyclists are dying in droves. What to do? Tell you what, impose restrictions on motorcyclists so that they cant get themselves hurt. Eventually, people will stop riding motorbikes because of the sheer inconvenience of it all. This is like saying that the entire population should wear stab proof vests and not go out after 8pm in case a murderer has a go at us, instead of trying to catch the murderers. Its always easier to solve a problem by imposing on the law abiding citizen, because you know he will do as hes told.
Sounds a little like the approach to Iran, but thats another topic.


  1. At 05:59 PM on 29 Mar 2007, Rob hall wrote:

    I have ridden 1000cc bikes for 26 years, doing at least 12000 miles a year. I have had one accident in that time and that was caused my diesel spilt on a roundabout. I was left with a wrecked bike. The driver that spilt the fuel got off scot-free.

  2. At 06:05 PM on 29 Mar 2007, matthew geyman wrote:

    Of course there’s a higher level of deaths in cars than motorcycles per vehicle mile. There’s no metal cage protecting most two wheeled drivers.

    This is the risk assessment every motorcyclist does whenever we swing a leg over a bike. We accept it as a fact, something your interviewee appears not to have grasped.

    Bump into a kerb in a car and you dent a wheel. No statistic. The same on a bike can kill you, but the death statistics go up.

    The advantages are obvious - shorter journey times, a sense of freedom .. and dare I say it, an adrenaline rush caused when the occasional car driver pulls out without looking.

    The vast majority of motorcyclists are also car drivers.. and on average, more observant ones at that. Everyone could benefit from the experience of two wheels on the road, whether cycle or motorcycle.

    While I'm at it.. Steve(?'s) point about the limited rubber contact on the road of a motorcycle is especially pertinent when we find roads designed without consideration to motorcyclists (slippery metal manhole covers in the middle of the carriageway on bends etc).

  3. At 06:07 PM on 29 Mar 2007, AndyB wrote:

    I must agree with some of what is written regarding useless car drivers, and the government's lack of action against them. You only have to read the crime section of your local newspaper to read how many of the convictions are for driving whilst disqualified, drunk driving, driving dangerously there are. The government should do something to stop the tiny minority who seem to repeatedly commit most of the offences.

    However, I must point out that motorcyclists are not innocent in this, how many motorcyclists ride in the queue of traffic? I don't think I have ever seen a motorcyclist who isn't continually overtaking several cars at once, riding between traffic instead of one side of the road, or riding as if speed limits don't apply to him. I understand that they take responsibility for this style of driving as they are the ones who will get injured in a collision, but to blame all car drivers for all accidents is simply selfish whinging.

    I'd like to see a advertising campaign describing the poor driving that motorcyclists should not do, "stuck in traffic, want to overtake, at speed, straight into an oncoming car"

  4. At 06:09 PM on 29 Mar 2007, The Stainless Steel Cat wrote:

    The standard of driving of *all* road vehicles is appalling. Every road user should have to take their driving test every year or two, and persistent bad drivers should be banned for life. That would ease congestion more than somewhat.

    And I hope nobody's going to give that nonsense argument that some people need to drive for their job. So what? Airline pilots need to fly for their job, but I believe they're tested every six months and banned if they are aren't up to the task, in order to save lives.

    Also, since we're likely to have some bikers here, a question that's bothered me for ages:

    Why do motorbikes make such a horrendous racket? That really can't be efficient from an engineering viewpoint. Is it some very basic design flaw? Or just the same kind of macho "look-at-me" attitude that's infesting souped-up hatchbacks with sabotaged exhausts these days?

  5. At 06:10 PM on 29 Mar 2007, David wrote:

    what proportion of motorcycle deaths have occurred when the motorcyclist was riding at full speed?
    hardly any.
    its not the speed that kills.
    it is recless drivers and bikers that lead to biker deaths

  6. At 06:12 PM on 29 Mar 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Mike R: I agree with you to the extent that there are plenty of bad car drivers out there, and clearly they are capable of causing more hard to a motorcyclist than the latter is to a car driver, all other things being equal. However, many many many
    motorcycling accidents occur through the extreme risk taking of a minority of motorcyclists who appear to think that the laws of nature don't apply to them.

    I live near an A road which is a regular run for motorcyclists, and there are regular motorcylcing accidents with serious casualties along the stretch near me, but the majority of those accidents are caused by reckless overtaking on corners and over double white lines, speeding (it is quite common for motorcyclists to be travelling well in excess of 90 mph), racing, cutting up traffic, and other totally unacceptable and illegal manoeuvres.

    I do drive, and I have been a motorcyclist in the past. I can tell the difference between the errors of fellow car drivers and the stupidity of some motorcyclists.

    Unfortunately, too, there are a number of practices undertaken by the worst such motorcyclists which are designed to ensure that they escape detection, even in speed traps.

    Frankly, I'm becoming increasingly anti-motorcyclist these days, but it is all due to this irresponsible minority who put their adrenalin high above the safety of themselves and other road users.

  7. At 06:12 PM on 29 Mar 2007, Gillian wrote:

    Mike R, I would agree with everything in your first paragraph if you had omitted the words ''car'' and ''younger drivers''
    We all drive how we want to drive, whether we are in a car or on a motorbike, and regardless of our age or experience. There is one significant difference between us, in that a learner car-driver is not allowed out onto the road unaccompanied.
    The only way to approach this subject is for all road-users to be addressed in the same manner and for us all to work towards safer standards for eveyone. Dividing us into different factions is just another way of avoiding taking responsibility and sharing the blame.

  8. At 06:13 PM on 29 Mar 2007, John Millar wrote:

    What percentage of motorcycle accidents occer while the bike is travelling at more than 150 mph, or at more than 100mph? I suggest that it must be vanishingly small. Trying to address the problem of motorcycle accidents by artificially cutting top speed is ludicrous. The VAST majority of motorcycle accidents happen at normal road speeds and would simply go on happening if token gestures like this were introduced. And remember car drivers, if they get away with this with motorcycles your car will be next and the age of the 60 mph Jaguar will soon be upon us. It will be just like the old East Germany with everybody being grey and miserable together and driving around in Trabants.

  9. At 06:15 PM on 29 Mar 2007, Elaine wrote:

    A friend of my family was involved in an accident which was not his fault, while riding a motorcycle. He was lucky to walk away alive. There are bad car drivers out there who endanger pedestrians and road users of all types. HOWEVER there are also bad motorcyclists and without acceptance of this unnecessary accidents will continue. I have to say the reactionary approach of the gentleman speaking for motorcyclists, and his inability to participate in mature debate on the issue, did little to convince me of the ability of motorcyclists to self-regulate in a responsible manner.

  10. At 06:17 PM on 29 Mar 2007, Fifi wrote:

    As a very occasional pillion passenger (my 3rd time this Sunday....!) I can vouch for all of the above.

    I see it as a car driver, and as a pedestrian, as well as on 2 wheels. And all 3 categories of road user are as guilty.

    People don't look around them, nor do they take responsibility for their own safety - never mind anyone else's.


  11. At 06:22 PM on 29 Mar 2007, Stuart P wrote:

    I have never heard such arrogant drivel, in defence of bikers, as spouted by Steve berry on today’s programme.
    Sure there are bad drivers but it seems to me that nearly bikers can't or won’t obey the laws of the road.
    I live in rural North Wales aleast a quarter of a mile across fields from the main road. Every week-end it's the same.
    Loud bikes going at least 90 mph overtaking on blind crests, blind bends & even double white lines as if they don't need to take any care.
    They frighten motorists by coming behind then roaring past, in a cacophony of noise, out of nowhere.
    In the summer months hardly a week goes by without some biker being killed or injured on the roads of North Wales.
    If it were up to me I would ban the lot of them.
    Or throttle the power back to 80mph.
    One biker was clocked by the North Wales police at speeds of upto 130 mph on narrow country rods with other road users.

  12. At 06:23 PM on 29 Mar 2007, John Calvert wrote:

    I agree totally with Mike R. Once again the Government are treating the statistics rather than the underlying cause. The only addition I would make to Mike's blog is to point out the emphasis that was placed on speed limitation (your emphasis or the Governments? Not sure from the interview). Motorcyclists are vulnerable at road legal speeds, what keeps them safe is training, competence, concentration and the ability to deal with the mistakes of others.

    As for vibrating handlebars! We pay motorcycle manufacturers good money to make sure they design handlebars that don't vibrate, thank you, it makes them much safer. The Minister has never been on a bike but she has her statistics - and it shows.

  13. At 06:31 PM on 29 Mar 2007, David S Banbery wrote:

    On listening to your section on Motorcycle speed limiting, in my view the solutions are simple.
    First off, as the "Gentleman Motorcyclist" rightly said, bike deaths generally boil down to incompetant car drivers. - i think this problem would be alleviated by a few simple things:
    * make the CBT mandatory for ALL vehicle licenses - most people can ride scooters, and if not due to disabilities etc, other arrangements must be made. i am not a bike rider but i am doing my bike licence, and taking my CBT a year ago was an eye opener. everyone on the road should do it. if they cant, then they shouldnt be on the road in any vehicle.
    * Make it mandatory for people who took their test before the written one was in force take it, especially with the hazard perception. - regardless to what the skeptics say it does help- i have done the written test twice, the second time with the hazard perception, and it does help. [i didnt fail i am taking my bike test remember]

    The main problem other than car driver incompetance is the fact that all the other interviewee did was quote figures. Like the rider said "its people who don't ride bikes trying to solve the problems and it doesnt work" - entirely correct.

    I'm getting fed up with people using figures and statistics for argument, when they can be so easily manipulated for either side.

  14. At 06:32 PM on 29 Mar 2007, Jim Usher wrote:

    I have to agree with the comments of Mike R. I have been motorcycling for 6 months now and it was only once I started to ride that I truly appreciated how terrible driving standards have become. I have been driving for 10 years and must admit that I too have fallen into the bad habits that are so apparent on our roads. I can therefore be sure that it is the drivers that cause the deaths of bikers in the majority of cases. I have yet to have a fall on my bike (touch wood) although almost all of my friends who ride have but in the two near misses I have had it was due to poor inattentive drivers. The reason why statistics show more bikers die in accidents is because bikers are more vulnerable. This is the nature of biking and I must admit part of its appeal. However the solution is not to impose further restrictions on bikers but on the drivers. Do drivers have a power limit on their cars subject to age and experience? No of course they don't and yet motorcyclists do. Perhaps the government should be imposing power limits on new drivers, after all a 17 year old can pass a test and get into a Porsche - there aren't any 17 year olds on sports bikes not legally at least.

  15. At 06:33 PM on 29 Mar 2007, Fifi wrote:

    Rob (1) that's what frightens me more than anything when on the back of my pal's T-Bird: the state of the roads.

    Potholes that are an annoying jolt in a car could have you off in no time!

    Diesel is another thing. You can't see it till too late.

    And other road users don't allow enough room when overtaking a bike.

    Thankfully my 'driver' is a very good, safe and considerate driver, so he doesn't subject me to any more brown-leathers moments than absolutely necessary.

    I have to say though, it's the most exhilerating way to travel. Wish I had the money (and the nerve) to get my own bike and licence!


  16. At 06:39 PM on 29 Mar 2007, David Wheelband wrote:

    Congratulations to Steve Berry, a convincing argument with a person who has never been on a motorbike. Motorcycle training is far more comprehensive than learning how to pass the driving test, which is not training to drive, but to pass a test.
    Today cars are equiped with parking sensors, if you cannot park and reverse at less than 1mph should you be driving at all
    Speed limiters for bikes, vibrating handlbars, I hope the corresponding recomendations will apply to motor cars.
    Death on the roads is a tragedy, restricting motorcyclists is not dealing with the cause.

  17. At 06:52 PM on 29 Mar 2007, Dylan Smith wrote:

    Motorcyclists already face a much tougher time getting their license - car drivers should face the same. Indeed, to make thing safer for motorcyclists, car driving education needs to change:

    - Like in the isle of Man, new car drivers should carry R plates. Additionally, like private pilots, new drivers should have a period where they have to 'solo' (no passengers, or at least no passengers with less than 10 years of driving experience) during this year of carrying R plates. This will also get rid of the tremendous peer pressure that teenage drivers face to drive outside their level of competence.

    - Driving education should include compulsory emergency handling training. With today's technology, this could be performed in a good quality simulator. Most drivers first experience a skid without any tuition or experience of how to regain control. Simulator training - just like for airline pilots - can teach things that are far too dangerous to teach in a real car, for example, the consequences of driving down residential streets at 40mph, slippery surfaces, how to maintain control after the initial impact in a crash etc. (complete with airbag deployment).

    - Eye tests should be mandatory, and carried out every 4 years like in many states in the United States. Proper eye tests, using eye testing equipment, not squinting at a numberplate.

    - Drink driving should result in license revocation on the first offence. A second offence should result in a lifetime ban because the person is obviously a danger to other road users.

  18. At 07:09 PM on 29 Mar 2007, Darren wrote:

    I was a late comer to bikes, but having experienced life in France, where motorcycles and scooters are far more common, I was converted. British drivers tend to feel smug as they cross the channel and witness the antics of our continental neighbours but give me one hundred French drivers to every 10 british ones when I am riding, because, for all their bad habits, the french are far more accepting of motorcyclists than many, many brits.

  19. At 07:17 PM on 29 Mar 2007, Brad Nicholls wrote:

    I have ridden bikes for 30 years and driven cars for 28 years. General driving standards are poor to say the least, and i am sorry to say bike riders are not to far behind. I agree with the lead comment that people no longer have consideration for one another or the highway code.

    I believe that the government should take some of the responsibility due to the increase in road users and the reduction of traffic police, a drop in standards should have been expected.

    Education and respect for the law that is there for all out benefits will not only reduce biker deaths and injury but also reduce death and injury of all other road users.

    Solely targeting bikers is not the answer.

  20. At 07:28 PM on 29 Mar 2007, Keith Baldock wrote:

    I have ridden motorcycles for many years for commuting and for leisure and have toured on many occasions in the UK, Ireland and Europe.

    Two wheeled vehicles make up around 3% of road vehicles in the UK yet account for 20% of fatalities and serious injuries each year. This is not suprising as we do not have the luxury of seat belts, airbags, side impact bars and the like. In addition if we do depart from the machine at speed we invariable make contact with lethal (to us) crash barriers, high kerbs, walls, posts or other vehicles.

    I feel that generally the standard of car driving is acceptable in this country, however as bikers we make a small sillouette and many car drivers either do not genuinly see bikes or underestimate their speed. Most modern motorcycles will accelerate to the legal limit in several seconds.

    As a member of the IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorcyclists) our Skill for Life programme of advanced rider training teaches riders to accept the failings of car drivers and adapt riding techniques to account for their lack of bike awareness.

    Car drivers feel safe in their protected boxes ( when was the last time you saw a motorcyclist reading, phoning, applying make-up, lighting ciggarettes etc when riding!) and don't use the same level of concentration as motorcyclists. We can make progress through the traffic and are trained to do so when it is safe to proceed!

    There are good and bad riders and good and bad car drivers the world over. The roads in the UK are badly congested and the UK driver is not as 'biker aware or friendly' as say European motorists.

    The roads would be safer for all of us if there were incentives and encouragement for driver skill training after the driving test. In general, I think one will find motorcyclists have a keener sense of road safety and make safer car drivers.
    OK there will always be 'nutters' in cars and bikes, but lets not penalise all for the actions of few!

  21. At 07:41 PM on 29 Mar 2007, Warren wrote:

    Steve Berry? What a childish, ignorant lout. He proved with his very first sentence that he hadn't listened to a single word which had been said up to that point and then went on to display such boorishness that I was relieved when Eddy turned him down.

    The disappointment was that he turned him back up again.

    Was he actively trying to give bikers a bad name or had he been drinking all afternoon?

  22. At 07:56 PM on 29 Mar 2007, richard wrote:

    I used to proudly call myself a biker. Not any more.

    I see far more irresponsible motorcyclists than car drivers. Yes the roads are in a poor state, yes many car drivers are myopic baboons who should have been taken off the roads years ago.

    Bikers, who have become aggressive and over confident in their abilities on the roads (especially when the sun comes out) cannot offload all the blame.

    The worst thing that this government did was provide direct access to large machines for the over 21s. Before this time the motorcyclist had to spend 2 years riding low powered bikes and learn how to ride within the machines limits before being aloud to progress onto something more challenging.

    Why shouldn't the government do some research into speed, perhaps it will find that 'inappropriate speed' is the problem.

    Oh at the same time they can restrict car drivers to limited power for 2 years with another test at the end of the period to be allowed access to ‘larger cars’

    It is a shame but I really enjoy riding my bike, most of the time within the speed limit, with my standard quiet exhaust and large numberplate. Perhaps I am old beyond my time with my tax free classic bike which tells me I am going to fast by vibrating so much that my fingers go numb and my fillings fall out!

  23. At 07:59 PM on 29 Mar 2007, Martin B wrote:

    I agree with those people complaining about madcap bikers riding at 90 mph every weekend. However, it is worth pointing out that many, if not all of the weekend warriors, are car drivers taken to biking at the weekend for a bit of excitement.

    I've ridden motorcycles for 21 years and I use my bike every day for the commute to work. I find that most daily commuters are very safe riders. Sure we filter down the middle of lanes to get where we want quickly, but so do the police riders and you couldn't call them unsafe.

    Motorcycling represents a clean, fuel efficient method of transport that provides fun twice a day (when many car drivers are sitting frustrated in a long jam.)

    And the reason we like loud exhausts is not machismo it's a basic safety issue. Loud pipes save lives.

    If it was up to me (and I accept it's not) i'd do away with direct access to improve safety.

  24. At 08:04 PM on 29 Mar 2007, Tim Pointing wrote:

    Eddie. Whilst I wish Mr Berry would calm down abit, I have the same level of frustration as he does. I've ridden 80000 miles over the last five years, in the UK and have been horrified at the lack of care and attention paid by drivers of cars, vans and lorries. Mobile phone use is my main fear, having had numerous vehicles pull over into my lane as people don't realise they can't see through their hand. I wish I could take photographs of car drivers reading newspapers, watching television, texting, putting on makeup, etc. Driving needs full attention and I need mine to stay out of trouble. The House of Commons Transport Committee should look at how we reduce deaths and this must include how to improve everybodys standard of driving.

  25. At 08:16 PM on 29 Mar 2007, Gerry Currie wrote:

    I'm quite sure the pm team have researchers that provide background to stories, otherwise the presenters would be very, very clever on every subject (not suggesting that they are not).
    When someone quotes statistics, as was the case regarding motorcycles and accidents, it would really be nice if the researchers could arm the presenters so the presenters could question the "spin".
    For example, there must be a statistic that
    a) indicates the % of bike accidents that have no other vehicle involved (bike rider error, perhaps speed, perhaps not)
    b) indicates the % of accidents caused by car or lorry drivers,
    Otherwise the selected statistics provide the wrong impression (as in this case), that motorcyclists all drive too fast and that speed is the cause of the fatalities.

  26. At 08:45 PM on 29 Mar 2007, Chris Wain wrote:

    Here we go again, bash the biker time, with actions proposed by subject unexperienced government nest-featherers, based on statistics!

    Its a shame not much emphasis was made on the contribution of poorly maintained roads has on accidents. It can only take a small hole, lump, loose surface, or road marking in a corner to throw a bike off line with potentially lethal results. So much for road design, its a wonder if motor cycles were considered at all when such things as painted rumble strips are placed in the braking zone of roundabouts! Its as though they're purposely setting bike traps! Well done you.

    On the subject of standards of drivers & riders, its obvious riders are more attentive they've more in touch and have more to loose if they get it wrong. I think if cars had a something that came out of the steering wheel the that whacked the driver in the face every time they did something wrong instead of an airbag, it might focus their attention more!

    PS; I believe Steve Berry originally a keen scooterist so he should know more about pot-holes!

  27. At 09:06 PM on 29 Mar 2007, Keith wrote:

    Do car drivers not realise that they will be next? It's technically easy to limit speed on modern vehicles. Their next arguement will be to make all roads safe by limiting everyone. This is another small step on the way to removing freedoms.

    If you link this restriction to vehicle tagging you will be able to monitor where we are in any vehicle, when and therefore your speed. It's not too great a step then to big brother. And that will lead to resentment of the police, which of course continues a slippery slide that government control freaks will love.

  28. At 09:06 PM on 29 Mar 2007, John lee wrote:

    I agree with much of what Steve Berry had to say, and the way he said it.
    The transport committee should take a few trips out to see just how dangerous our roads are becoming for pedal and motor bikes - the Romans [I understand - I wasn't there] had better roads than we have in much of the SE now - ruts, potholes, worn out surfaces and roads never swept however filled up they become with washed down stones and other winter debris, and often at their worst on the apex of bends - how many motorcycle accidents are truly down to high speed; not many I expect. I believe that many are due to the ever deteriorating road conditions plus the speedy downturn in the quality of car/van/lorry driving, where speed is so very often more important than safe considerate driving.
    190mph motorcycles are ridiculous given our 70mph limit, but then so are 200mph cars, and which of the 2 is likely to do the greater damage? I was a traffic officer for most of my police service and since retiring 10 years ago, I've seen an almost complete stripping of any traffic patrolling or enforcement. Of course crime prevention and detection is very important but it should never be considered as an either or; we need both; how much dangerous driving, poor lane discipline, driving too close; over weight and dangerously loaded vehicles are getting away with it, or are responsible for causing the causing the daily carnage we hear in radio reports, causing a huge cost to the nation's businesses - where in heaven's name have all the officers gone - there just cannot be that many squads to join! These are the issues the transport committee should be looking at - taking a holistic approach to a growing problem and not taking a knee-jerk response to what I imagine are very doubtful statistics. If they were really seroius about improving safety, they would be insisting on occasional refresher driving tests for all to ensure that the culture of pass the test at 17 and then drive how you like for the rest of your days, disappears - but this is too political for many of them, so let's put the boot in to the motorcyclist. I love my motorcycling, even though I'm aware of the ever increasing danger I'm exposed to for the reasons outlined above. It's one of the few really life enhancing/confirming experiences one can enjoy without being filthy rich, and it would be a sad irony if it was this nannystate labour government that took it away from us.

  29. At 09:25 PM on 29 Mar 2007, Keith Hews wrote:

    I quite agree that the standard of car driving could be better - I believe that a lot of drivers simply sit and work the controls rather than actually "drive" the car in an alert and considerate manner.

    However, to blame car drivers for the high number of motorcyclist deaths is probably escaping the main issue.

    Unfortunately, it's my experience that the majority of motorcyclists drive their vehicles in an extremely aggressive and reckless manner. It's also true to say that almost all of my encounters with motorcyclists is on weekends - there seem to be far less motorcyclists on the road during the week, presumably because most motorbike owners don't use them for commuting? Generally speaking (and I do mean generally), I find that weekday motorcyclists appear to be good drivers, whereas the weekend bikers are the bad ones.

    The "bad" driving almost always manifests itself in reckless overtaking manoeuvres e.g. cutting me up when having to get out of the way of oncoming traffic, causing oncoming traffic to brake or swerve to get out of the way...

    Are there any statistics that reveal what day(s) of the week are the most common for fatal motorcyclist accidents to occur. Do the figures reveal who was to blame for the fatalities? Might be interesting reading.

  30. At 10:23 PM on 29 Mar 2007, Craig wrote:

    It's good to see such passionate posturing from all sides. I have ridden and I drive 70 miles each day. Whilst an excess of power seems ridiculous, then a lack of power can also be... after passing my bike test, I tried riding to work on a busy dual carriage-way on a 125cc bike. this had so little power, that when coming up behind an HGV doing 55MPH, you needed a half-mile straight run to safely overtake, which was impossible as cars go zooming by doing 90 MPH!

    At the end of the day there are many arguments you can make for and against... there are good and bad drivers, and riders whether their actions are intentional, or they are blissfully oblivious to them...

    The roads have to be used by the masses, not an elite skilled few. There will always therefore be people who fall below any perceived minimum level of ability and yet still take to the road (legally or otherwise) this situation will persist.

  31. At 11:31 PM on 29 Mar 2007, Paul H wrote:

    I've only just calmed down enough to write. I was listening to "the voice of reason" extolling the virtues of considerate motorcyclists whilst driving on the A63 out of Hull today. Doing about 60 in quite heavy traffic, only to be passed on the inside by two morons on motorbikes hurtling past at mach 2.2, weaving in and out of cars and lorries.

    My other pet hate is the idiotic habit many motorcyclists have of lurking for ages in your car's "blind spot" waiting for a moment to overtake.

  32. At 11:44 PM on 29 Mar 2007, ian wrote:

    I think the bikers might have got more sympathy if you'd asked a less irritating boorish lout to speak up for them?

  33. At 11:57 PM on 29 Mar 2007, Steve P wrote:

    I would suggest that the bad driving is on both sides of the stick: Many car drivers are indeed guilty of poor observation but equally many motorcyclists appear to think that riding in a cars blind spot is a good idea. That said there are plenty of good car drivers and responsible motorcyclists and we should not forget that the bad ones are in the minority.

    But! A few observations if I may. Motorcyclists often treat the road like a track which it is not. If you insist on trying to ground your hero blobs on a roundabout, don't be surprised if that lorry driver doesn't see you because you are far below his line of sight. Equally, I have never had a car driver overtake me at in excess of 100mph on the margin of the central reservation with only one hand controlling their vehicle (the other being used to generate a hand signal that was unwarranted. I had a motorcyclist in the car with me who was appalled at this display of arrogant riding).

    I do see plenty of riders who stick in the centre of the lane and ride sensibly and defensively on big bikes that are well capable of very naughty speeds indeed but it is the rider who governs that speed, not the bike. Lets not brand all riders reckless idiots and all drivers unobservant ignoramuses. And the correspondent named Keith is quite correct - if bikes are limited then cars will be next. The problem is the riding and driving skills and the policing of them, not the machines themselves.

  34. At 12:24 AM on 30 Mar 2007, Aperitif wrote:

    Ah, the Manic Street Preachers...

  35. At 08:46 AM on 30 Mar 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    A topic I'd like taken up arises from a piece in Mary Seighart's column in yesterday's Times. She wrote:

    "Recently, I wrote a column about the disappearance of older women from television. Their male contemporaries, such as Michael Parkinson, Sir Trevor McDonald and Alan Titchmarsh, are allowed to continue as national treasures, but women, in the main, get locked away in the safe or exiled to radio not long after their first wrinkle appears.

    "Now it is Moira Stuart's turn. This serene newsreader used to do all the BBC's morning bulletins. Then she was restricted to the Sunday ones on Andrew Marr's programme. Now she has lost that job too. A fine reward for 25 yras' service at the Beeb.

    "According to the newspapers, she is only 55, younger than Jeremy Paxman. Her Who;s Who entry does not even have a date of birth: perhaps she saw this coming. But, when will the BBC learn that at least half of its viewing public want to see some women of wisdom and maturity on their screens, and not just bimbos who play pertly and prettily to the older men who sit next to them?

    "We female viewers feel insulted by the airbrushing out of our gender after a certain age. The BBC is a public-service broadcaster and it makes great play of consulting its licence-payers. Perhaps the corporation would deign to listen to us on this?"

    Ms Stuart, incidentally, presented a fascinating documentary last week about the roots of slavery. I, for one, would be extremely sorry to see her disappear.

    But this is an issue of concern to many, and not only women. What do others think?

  36. At 09:51 AM on 30 Mar 2007, Gareth Blake wrote:

    I don't think Steve Berry defended us PTW users well. The minister should ask herself this question: Are motorcyclists killing themselves or other people? If it is ourselves then training is the answer, not interfering with vehicle controls. Push bikesafe harder, it is brilliant!

    According to "road craft" 70% of motorcycle accidents occur on a sunny Sunday afternoon.

    As a constant 2 wheel traveller, often without an engine, I have observed that 95% of people do not know how to overtake: go far too close to the overtaken vehicle, into the path of oncoming traffic etc. Taking some advanced motorcycle training taught me how best to do this.

  37. At 10:02 AM on 30 Mar 2007, Fiona wrote:

    As an ex-motorcyclist myself I have to say I do tend to fall more on Steve Berry's side than on the other lady (her name escapes me). Although I do agree he was rather arrogant and blinkered in his attitude but I can see why to a point. I don't agree with the principle of speed limiters. I cannot see how that possibly solve the underlying problem of poor and irresponsible driving by both car drivers and bikers. It is absolutely true to say that sadly these days a great many drivers drive without any consideration for others or the highway code and regular re-testing should be mandatory. If you are in a car it is much easier in many ways to be distracted - and drivers often are, e.g. mobile phones, eating, drinking, applying make up. When you are riding a bike on the other hand (and this is just my own opinion based on my own experience of course) you do tend to focus much more and stay focussed. I too would be interested to find out exactly what the statistics of accidents are that are purely as a result of a biker going too fast. For a start you could not apply the speed limite to speeds less than 80 mph. However its how and where you ride at speed that is the danger. Speed limiters would do nothing to stop you driving say at 78 mph round a poor visibility winding road - yet I would argue that is far more dangerous than doing 100 mph down a straight fairly empty motorway (which I have to confess I have done!). It is attempting to do mad/stupid things that result in accidents - e.g. overtaking on a bend or a hill where you cannot see far enough ahead of you, or weaving down the middle of lanes of traffic. I think I was a fairly responsible biker and my SO was definitely a good rider and I miss going pillion these days - however it is not a risk I would want to take any more, not because I do not trust his abilities, but I do not trust fellow road users. I agree something needs to be done but I do not agree with the solution proposed last night.

  38. At 10:52 AM on 30 Mar 2007, Simon Worrall wrote:

    Matt G (2) and many others; make the very pertinent point that whilst a car is a metal cage there are no safety factors on a motorbike. They are less safe for the occupants by design. That single factor will surely account for the disproportionate death and injury rate amongst bikers in accidents.

    SSC (4);
    makes a useful point about standards of driving generally. Lane discipline is truly shocking on multi-carriageway roads. I drive 40 000 miles a year, mostly on motorways. I would bother counting the number of times that I see the left hand lane with an odd goods vehicle in it and the other two lanes (the overtaking lanes in the Highway Code, there's a clue there somewhere)choked with vehicles driving nose-to-tail at high-speed.

    I tend to agree with BigSis (6) and the many others who point out the rank stupidity of some motorbike riders in traffic. Passing between cars and vans on a motorway at 80 / 90 / 100 mph is a recipe for an early death. And I see that kind of motorbike riding every day I am on a fast road. Or the biker yesterday evening at a roundabout in Norwich, doing a wheelie as he pulled away. Complete idiot.

    I see far more reckless motorbikers than car drivers. When you consider that they are in a small minority of road users that gives pause for thought.

    John Millar (8);
    I colleague had his VW Golf totalled by a biker in 2005 on the M69. It was during the small hours, My friend was alone on the road driving down from Leeds to Coventry. He saw a light growing swiftly in his rear-view. Next thing he could remember his car was wrecked and scattered across the carriageway. He'd been hit in the rear by a bike which the police estimated was doing between 140 & 160 mph. The biker was on the run from the police, who'd lost track of him. They found the body of the biker nearly 150 feet from the point of impact on the grass verge. Who was the insane driver?

    The national speed limit on an unrestricted road is 70 mph. I'd argue for a rise in the motorway limit to perhaps 80 mph. But trying to wave away speed restrictions on the grounds that 'Car drivers, you're next' is a plea to be allowed to drive excessively fast. It's illegal, you can't justify it.

    Elaine (9) and others
    ;All those who criticised Steve Berry for his absurdly immature attitude; Spot on! I'm glad to say that hearing him muted during his 'That's it, keep talking, keep talking' rant was sheer delight. I could have cheered the control room staff who did that. Treating someone whose opinion you happen to be at variance with such disdain is deplorable. He did himself and his cause much damage.

    Stuart P (11);
    Hear, hear! There was a biker in Essex yesterday banned for three months for driving in excess of 110 mph in traffic. More of the same please.

    Dave Wheelband (16);
    Give it a rest. Steve Berry was a boor and an idiot. If he is the best example of a spokesman for motorbikers then your cause is lost. Find someone more eloquent and persuasive.

    It's hard to argue with Dylan Smith (17) and his proposals to make the roads safer. But drink-driving does carry a mandatory one year ban for the first offence, three to five for the second and a life ban for the third. And the real problem is not eyesight but road attitude.

    The quickest way to turn a sane human being into a testosterone fueled fool is to put a windscreen in front of him/her. And yes, ladies do produce testosterone, before someone tries to point that out.

    I'm a convert to France also. The real joy is that their roads are far emptier than ours. That's because their country is more than twice the size of ours, but with a similar population. They have more space and a superb toll-motorway system which I gladly pay for if I'm crossing the country. I don't get over there so much these days, sadly.

    Brad (19);
    At last a balanced view. Well done.

    Keith (27);
    So what? Arguing against speed restrictors is arguing for the right to speed. It's indefensible. HGVs are restricted to 56mph already. Why not restrict all other road vehicles to, say 80 mph? N.B. all of them, not just bikes. I suspect that a few bikers would give up, because the thing they enjoy most is the excessive speed.

    John Lee (28);
    A car capable of doing 200 mph costs in excess of £100k, are almost impossible to insure unless you're extra-wealthy and are few and far between. A bike capable of startling speed is a fraction of the price and costs less to run. Ergo, there are a higher percentage of bikes with blistering performance than there are cars. At those sorts of speeds both do tremendous damage, let's not quibble about degrees. There are no degrees in death.

    Keith Hews (29);
    Again, spot on.

    I'm not pretending to be unbiased or reasonable on this topic. I've been a coffin-bearer for two friends who died in separate motorbike accidents. Neither involved another party. Both involved excessive speed and dangerous driving. I'd been a pillion on one a few weeks before. I was more scared than at any other time in my life. I caught a taxi back. I've never been on a bike since and wild horses wouldn't induce me.


  39. At 11:03 AM on 30 Mar 2007, Fifi wrote:

    Whatever one's feelings about road users of any stripe, there is one unalterable principle here that nobody can disagree with:

    This government, rather than identify and deal with the cause of the problem, will penalise the law-abiding minority in order to say it's doing 'something'.

    When that doesn't work they'll do the same thing higher up the food chain.

    I doubt they'll impose limiters though. Where's the revenue for the Treasury in that?

    My money is on some solution based on tax.

    Prove me wrong?


  40. At 11:51 AM on 30 Mar 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    A further point I'd like to add (and, before, the bikers take their guns to me, I'll reiterate that I am resolutely opposed to bad driving, and excessive speed, by all road users):

    There's been a comment or two on this thread that imply that, if a motorcyclist gets into an accident s/he's the one likely to get killed, ergo it's their choice, they reap the consequence.

    Well, I'm afraid I must offer a challenge to that view. Firstly, a biker accident may well result in the death of others, whether other bikers, car drivers or pedestrians, and secondly, if a biker is killed due to the impact with a car, but due to the recklessness of the biker, how does the car driver feel? They will have to live with that death for the rest of their lives, even though they know they were not at fault. I've often thought this as I have to deal with the reckless bikers who drive around here.

    Yes, drivers must be made bike aware (many already are very good at this), but there is no excuse for reckless bikers.

  41. At 01:28 PM on 30 Mar 2007, Peter K wrote:

    I haven't read every preceding comment but the the themes appear to mostly fall into one of two groups: those that don't like motorcycles anyway and experienced bikers defending our cause.

    Yes I am a biker, and I'm also a car driver and pedestrain. in times past I've driven a lorry and a coach and, perhaps, have learnt to see the perspective from each.

    There are daft things done by each category but we cannot ban them all because of a few.

    The law can only be used after the event. We rely upon a mutual adhereance to some rules, the Higway Code ~ but having a better undestanding of each category's needs would help. I guess that every car driver appreciates the vulnerabilty of the pedestrian, but do they all think the same about bikers?

  42. At 01:41 PM on 30 Mar 2007, matt m wrote:

    I thought it highly amusing yesterday when, at the precise moment the contributor to the programme was defending motorcyclists, I saw a motocyclist mount a pavement and drive along it to avoid a queue at some temporary traffic lights!

    A one-off incident I'm sure....

    ... or was it?

    matt :o)

  43. At 01:50 PM on 30 Mar 2007, Andy Mann wrote:

    I hate bikers, both push bikes and mortor bikes, neither should be on the road. Cyclists slow down and sway when going up hills making overtaking in a car very diificult.

    Bikers seem to think its a great idea to over take 5 moving cars at a time then suddenly swerve into a non existent gap when they see a car coming.

    Think bike! My arse.

  44. At 02:06 PM on 30 Mar 2007, Chris Cooke wrote:

    I believe this is another case of Government by Illusion. The ability to be seen to be doing something, while actually doing nothing. The current spin on speeding is a prime example of the manipulation of statistics. Principally to enable the government to proceed with a policy of replacing policing with speed cameras, and pretending it’s for safety.

    I quote an accident investigator for Thames Valley Police.

    “The 'S' (Speeding) word still won't go away. The powers that be are still obsessed with it being the only cause of crashes. I did a little research through our records, and it was a factor (note not the only factor) in only 18% of fatal crashes involving bikes. Funny how no one seems interested, maybe they are making too much money to be bothered. Cynical -Moi!”

    Very few accidents are caused by speeding alone, although the results are often exacerbated by it, or the consequences are greatly increased by it, but most accidents are caused by driver error, Speeding may be listed as one driver error, but it is not all of them you can’t put up cameras to capture “Driver Error”, so the spin is to make the public (the media has already fallen for it) think that “Speeding” and “Driver Error” are the same thing”.

    I constantly observe drivers following far too close (recently 4 meters at 40 mph), but there is no one available to caution that driver, and if there was, they would want the paperwork

  45. At 02:36 PM on 30 Mar 2007, Andy Harrison wrote:

    I've seen these same arguments so many times now. whenever car drivers and motorcyclists start to defend their point of view it all gets a little heated. I've been driving for 20 years and biking for only the last three. I've done a couple of Police Bikesafe courses, part of which included photographs taken at accident scenes. The damage a high speed bike can do to a car or even a lorry is quite horrific so it isn't only bikers who get hurt through a rider's recklessness however, statistics we were given (now a couple of years old) indicated only 12.6% of bike accidents involved other road users, the majority being single vehicle accidents, mainly the rider misjudging a bend. Where other road users were involved, its alsmost always the biker alone being hurt.

    I don't condone the reckless few bikers ... and they are the minority of riders but numerically there are many more reckless car drivers and road users killed, bikers included, through poor car driving than there are through poor bike riding. On the whole neither bikers nor car drivers can claim the moral high ground. In my view all road users should undergo more thorough training including restrictions on power in the first couple of years after passing the relevant test. Additionally, older drivers should face free, compulsory re-tests at 65 or earlier if a doctor recommends it. One police officer I rode with had nearly been knocked down when trying to flag down an elderly driver who later proved they could only just read a number plate 10 feet away.

    On to the subject of noisy bikes. The "The Stainless Steel Cat" wrote "That really can't be efficient from an engineering viewpoint. Is it some very basic design flaw? Or just the same kind of macho "look-at-me" attitude" Straight through cans do increase a bike's power and torque, often in the mid range but also at the top end. This is one reason for loud bikes. A second useful side effect is that an oblivious or myopic car driver sitting in their little metal box, listening to PM or some inferior radio program is more likely to be aware of the bike with a loud can coming up behind them or approaching along the road that they are about to enter. Since installing a noisy exhaust on my bike, I've noticed a decrease in the number of drivers who start to pull out on me. "Loud cans save Lives!" is a frequently used slogan and its quite right.

  46. At 03:10 PM on 30 Mar 2007, Gareth Blake wrote:

    Just had a read of the submissions to the report and found some stats. Motorcycles cause 4x the number of pedestrian deaths per mile and 3x the cyclist deaths per mile of cars. It was claimed that pedestrians find motorbikes hard to see - no explanation for why motorcyles kill more cyclist, may be due to low numbers and Sundays. This increased in London as regards pedestrians - filtering may have something to do with this.


  47. At 03:12 PM on 30 Mar 2007, Gill wrote:

    Speed is a factor in all road traffic accidents - when was the last time a parked vehicle jumped out and hit something?

    Could the government please stop stating the bleedin' obvious?

    The question is, "how low would you like to set your speed limiter?" Reductio in absurdum.

    The main problem is the attitude of UK road, and pavement, users. Rage abounds because the system is so badly planned and in such bad repair that we all waste large chunks of our lives just getting places. Not a recipe for calm.

    Maybe the "road planners" could shift focus from slowing us all down and restricting traffic to aiding the flow and getting us where we're going?

  48. At 03:40 PM on 30 Mar 2007, Ed Iglehart wrote:

    Why are we so obsessed with speed?

    When we have been reduced to an archaelogical sediment, it will be called the "Age of Scurrying", the Velocicene.

    Sssslllllooooowwwww Dddddoooooowwwwwnnnnn

  49. At 04:34 PM on 30 Mar 2007, Vyle Hernia wrote:

    Gill (47)

    The authorities used to make it their aim to maintain roads as something to be travelled along, but then it suited them to swallow whole the propaganda of the Green Machine.

    Thus, roads are now regarded by officialdom as things to be crossed. Having said that, I think froggers may be amused to note that my wife tripped on a speed hump once and nearly fell over.

  50. At 06:37 PM on 30 Mar 2007, John wrote:

    'My other pet hate is the idiotic habit many motorcyclists have of lurking for ages in your car's "blind spot" waiting for a moment to overtake.'

    I get REALLY get annoyed up every time a car driver trots out this rubbish. A car does not have a 'blind spot'. When you want to make a manoeuvre, you TURN YOUR HEAD AND LOOK. What's so hard about that? Maybe you need to be a motorcyclist first to realise this simple truth. I've ridden on motorways many times only to have a car try to move into the lane I'm occupying, because he/she couldn't be bothered to look over their shoulder. If motorcyclists are hard to see then how come I've never pulled out in front of one? Reason - I look for ALL vehicles.

  51. At 08:55 PM on 30 Mar 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    John (@ 50)

    Sit in your car. Turn your head. Look behind you.

    The bit of the scenery at the back obscured by the cornerpost of the car (the bit between the rear windscreen and the side window) is said to be in "the car's blind spot".

    Unless you have x-ray vision, you can turn your head all you like but you cannot see through solid metal.

    There's a splendid sign on the back of some lorries these days: it says "If you can't see my mirrors, I can't see you". The same applies to a car-driver: if you on your bike sitting a car length behind and level with the side of his car can't see the car-driver's face in either of his mirrors, he can't see you.

    Some of what each side in this inevitable barney says is right, some is wrong, not all bikers are stupid, not all car-drivers are evil, but you canna tamper with the laws of physics, captain,

  52. At 09:03 PM on 30 Mar 2007, Chris Ghoti wrote:

    In case anyone might think I'm a cardriving antibike wossit, I just advocate common sense.....

    There used to be a saying among the tearaway bikers... "If a cop stops you for speeding in town, he ought to do you for driving without due care and attention: you ought to have known he was there."

    There was also the Wise Old Biker's Lore: "How did I live to be this old, son? I'll tell you. I assume that everyone else on the road is mad, drunk, blind, stupid, out to kill me, or all the above. Mostly I think I'm right."

  53. At 10:26 PM on 30 Mar 2007, Dan Burrows wrote:

    In response to Stuart P of comment 11 - Please, take the time to read my blog entry regarding your comments at my website - and please remember that generalisations are dangerous, divisive, and insulting.

  54. At 09:00 PM on 31 Mar 2007, big Al wrote:

    As a long-time car driver who's got an interest in motorbikes and some sympathy with and understanding of their their vulnerability on the road, I don't like being referred to as a car driving idiot, because I'm not. I don't like motorcyclists who constantly drive on full beam just behind my rear screen, because it is annoying and distracting, and makes no contribution to road safety. When I see a motorbike in the fast lane doing 80 or 90 amongst the cars, I often wonder at the imagination of the biker, because it doesn't take much to realise that there's only got to be one false move by somebody and the motorbike is a goner, and it's not necessarily because the car drivers are idiots. No amount of compulsory this, or mandatory that, will make any difference to the fact that above walking speed a motorcyclist is going to come off worst in any sort of coming together on the road involving cars or bigger vehicles.
    I quite understand Steve Berry getting indignant at the woman from the Transport Committee having views on slowing down bikers, then saying that she had never been on one, but she's in a great tradition of ministers having no idea of what they are talking about, and then passing laws about whatever it was they are ignorant of, followed by the application of the Law of Unintended Consequences.

  55. At 10:00 PM on 31 Mar 2007, matthew geyman wrote:

    FAO AndyB(3) and others
    'Filtering' (overtaking, even on the other side of a hatched line) is NOT ILLEGAL.
    I believe that nearside overtaking (undertaking) is now not specifically an offense.
    Both, however, are subject to restrictions as per the Highway Code.

    Riding past a line of traffic which is going nowhere fast can be relatively safe if you keep your wits about you and is one of the main reasons many of us ride - to 'make progress'.
    Try it yourself before you knock it. It's liberating; not having to waste your time in traffic, but riding around it.

    Filtering is one of the benefits of biking that offsets some of the discomforts.

  56. At 11:23 AM on 01 Apr 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Matthew Geyman:

    (a) not sure what your 'filtering' point is - it is certainly illegal to overtake on a stretch of road where there is a solid line on your side of the road - hatched lines - that's less straightforward, but it's all in the Highway Code.

    (b) Re undertaking (i.e. overtaking to the left of another road user)

    The Highway Code, clearly states:

    139: Only overtake on the left if the vehicle in front is signalling to turn right, and there is room to do so

    241: Do not overtake unless you are sure it is safe to do so.
    Overtake only on the right.

    242: Do not overtake on the left or move to a lane on your left to overtake. In congested conditions, where adjacent lanes of traffic are moving at similar speeds, traffic in left-hand lanes may sometimes be moving faster than traffic to the right. In these conditions you may keep up with the traffic in your lane even if this means passing traffic in the lane to your right. Do not weave in and out of lanes to overtake.

    I think that's clear enough. Undertaking, as a means of passing vehicles, is not permissable, except in those cases stated.

    It worries me that, as a road user, you don't appear to know the Highway Code.

  57. At 08:50 AM on 03 Apr 2007, matthew geyman wrote:

    Dear Big Sister
    My post was in response to post 3 in which AndyB said:

    "The government should do something to stop the tiny minority who seem to repeatedly commit most of the offences.
    However, I must point out that motorcyclists are not innocent in this, how many motorcyclists ride in the queue of traffic"... ... etc.

    Reading Andy's post (and others) fully, I believe it needs pointing out that overtaking a line of traffic is not an offense.

    With 'hatched line', I meant the Center ('dotted') Line of the road, not a solid line or a stripe. Of course it's illegal to overtake across a solid line. My use of 'hatched' was ambiguous, my apologies if it was confusing to you.

    As an aside I was asked, by the examiner, during my Motorcycle Test if I was permitted to overtake on an indicated stretch of single carriageway road with solid white lines. I naively answered no, but was told the correct answer was, that as long as I did not cross the Solid White Line, it is legal to ovetake.
    Of course, whether it is SAFE to do so depends on individual circumstance.

    Re your point viz. overtaking on the left. I did not say that I condone it, merely I understand it "is now not specifically an offense".

    As I understand, The Highway Code is an indication of what it on the Statute Books. HC Paragraph 241 does not include the words 'MUST NOT'.. i.e. there is no specific offense relating to it.

    However, I'm glad you're worried that I don't understand the Highway Code as it shows that you care about it. This, combined with courtesy, is vital for road safety.

    I believe my point re "MUST / MUST NOT" referring to an action being illegal (rather than an indication of liability in an accident) is an important one, although I would be very happy to hear from someone who has a fuller understanding.

  58. At 09:23 AM on 03 Apr 2007, matthew geyman wrote:

    I'd also like to apologise for my spelling of 'offence' in the previous post.

  59. At 03:09 PM on 03 Apr 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Matthew: I agree with all the points you've made, although the point re the MUST/MUST NOT is an important one inasmuch as to ignore the Highway Code would most definitely put you in the wrong in the case of liability - and that could involve charges relating to a standard of driving (dangerous, reckless, etc.).

    The MUST/MUST NOT refer to legal infractions, I believe: the other bits could be relied upon though in Court though as evidence of a standard of driving. So, in an accident involving a fatality, if the motorist had ignored the point, it could well count against him/her.

  60. At 08:50 PM on 04 Apr 2007, Mansur Darlington wrote:

    Just in case facts appeal more than preconception and prejudice, why not look at the research on accidents, traffic safety and motorcycle use? This can be readily found on the world wide web.

    For example, why not look at the most comprehensive research on motorcycle accidents currently available. It can be found at:


    Happy bickering.

  61. At 01:17 PM on 05 Apr 2007, matthew geyman wrote:

    Now, when did logic or fact fully influence human behaviour or aspiration? If I read the facts, I doubt I'd ever want to commute on a motorcycle again. Life's too ...... short.

    As someone who must have read the report and thereby already registered with acembike.org, would you care to summarise the pertinent bits?

    I've carefully constructed my prejudices from experience and I'm sticking to them.
    Lay on MacDuff.

  62. At 01:49 PM on 05 Apr 2007, Neil Curtis wrote:

    I think that general observation is terrible on the roads. people seem to look only 2 feet in front of their faces and thats it. Literally every time i use a pedestrian crossing cars fly past oblivious that I was even there. At times I am half way across and cars still fly past, only noticing as they pass. Also, roubdabouts are a problem, cars starting in the outside lane, drifting across to the middle, and then out again to go straight on. This really annoys me as is shows poor observation and regard for other road users. Middle lane driving, avoiding obsticles and many more situations can be put down to poor observation on poor road courtesy. I think re-tests are needed are regular intervals, i.e. 5 or 10 years. Some elderly drivers are much worse than some learner drivers and is something that needs to be dealt with.
    On another point, when people enter the country they can drive for a year before needing to take a uk driving test. This seems so stupid and pointless, either take a test straight away or not at all. Obviously the former is the best. These drivers don't know the rules, for example pedestrian crossings, so is something that needs to be addressed.

  63. At 10:09 PM on 05 Apr 2007, Mansur Darlington wrote:

    In response to Mr Geyman, The MAIDS report runs to 173 pages so a short summary is difficult. However, the following gives a flavour of the findings:

    Nearly all the accidents analysed were caused by human error. (about 10 per cent were due to omissions in road repairs or weather).

    In approximately 50 per cent of the accidents the primary fault lay with the other vehicle (mostly passenger cars). In approximately 36 per cent of those cases the OV driver didn't see the powered two-wheeler (PTW) prior to the accident.

    Drivers of other vehicles were about twice as likely as motorcyclists to make errors of observation. OV drivers who were also PTW drivers made about half as many perceptual errors as those who weren't.

    Both 'Travelling and impact speeds for all PTW categories were found to be quite low, most often below 50 km/h. There were relatively few cases in which excess speed was an issue related to accident causation.'

    Most accidents occur when the travelling or impact speed is about 40 km/h.

    Only about 6 per cent of accidents occurred when the PTW was overtaking other traffic.

    In about 50 per cent of cases the PTW was travelling in a straight line at constant speed immediately before the accident.

    It is fairly clear that from the above that serious (i.e. non-politically motivated) attempts at accident reduction must be based on driver and rider education.

    There is no sensible case for capping the top speed of motorcycles. Common sense suggests that most accidents will happen at the speed at which the vehicle travels for most of the time. Like cars, motorcycles don't travel at their tops speed (or anywhere near them) very often -- if ever.The statistics show that the speed at which most accidents happen is about 40 km/h. Reducing the top speed of a motorcycle will reduce the number of accidents in the speed range between the top speed and the enforced maximum. Unless the speed is cut to below about 50 km/h the effect will be minimal. Analysis of the statistics will support this, should you be sufficiently interested to read them.

    I too have spent many years developing my own prejudices. Dominant amongst them is the belief that most British drivers are rank amateurs engaged in an activity which requires a professional level of skill to engage in safely. Currently we rely on luck to stay out of trouble; unfortunately it sometimes runs out.

  64. At 10:11 AM on 09 Apr 2007, Molly Gower wrote:

    The most important piece equipment a motorcyclist has is what goes on between his/her ears. Yes there are bad car drivers out there but there are also bad motorcycle riders out there. The main difference between a bad and a good rider is their thinking process. Your thinking process controls your observation and judgement and self-control. Going into a bend far too quickly for the conditions and your ability will almost certainly result in an accident. It doesn’t take rocket science to work out how to avoid the accident.

    There are bad car drivers out there but you thinking process should be telling you if the driver’s body language demonstrates an imminent change in direction. Expect cars to be turning without indicating, expect parent to be offloading children if they stop outside a school.

    If you’re out with your mates on a sunny Sunday afternoon and see them speed off make sure the red mist doesn’t take over and you blindly follow them.

    We don’t have a metal cage around us and our only protection is a flimsy piece of leather or man-made fibre. Our greatest protection device is our brain.

    I’m not a fuddy duddy either.

    I’m a motorcycle trainer, racer and stunt rider. I’m also a woman.

  65. At 11:42 AM on 09 Apr 2007, Big Sister wrote:

    Hurrah for Molly! The voice of reason!

    There are bikers out there (we see them racing through our 30 mph village every day - and some days scores and scores of them) who drive as if they are totally bonkers. Then they wonder why many people are getting so fed up with them.

    I'm not antibiking, but I am utterly against using the public roads as race tracks and with a total disregard for other road users, pedestrians, and residents.

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