Far too often road safety campaigns targetted at motorcyclists and their high risk of being involved in a ‘looked but failed to see’ SMIDSY accident at junctions revolves mostly around using passive safety aids.
Day riding lights and hi-vis clothing are offered up as the way riders can help prevent drivers pulling out in front of them. Unfortunately, the unchanging accident demographic over the last twenty five years or so when DRLs and hi-vis usage has become common suggests that such passive safety aids are far from a complete solution.
In fact, there’s an argument that as riders have become keener to use conspicuity aids, they’ve come to rely on them to prevent accidents and are then surprised when they don’t work. I’ve heard riders who’ve been involved in near misses and actual collisions say regularly: “I had my lights on and was wearing a dayglo jacket and the driver still pulled out”.
So it’s good to see that Cornwall’s THINK BIKE campaign offers some sensible and practical advice for both drivers and riders:
Advice for driversThink ‘bike.’ If you’re not expecting to see one, you may not until it’s too late. 1. Bikes are small and manoeuvrable and so may seem to appear from nowhere in traffic. 2. Riders may position themselves in different parts of the road to improve their forward vision or to avoid hazards such as potholes or diesel spills. Give them room. 3. Be aware of your blind spots and check that they’re clear before changing lanes. 4. Bikes can filter, let them. Blocking a bike from getting past is dangerous. 5. Consider some advanced training to progress your driving skills.We know it’s not always the driver’s fault, but by taking that extra second to check for bikes you could just save yourself a lot of time. Advice for ridersAssume no-one has seen you, even if you’re wearing hi-viz. 1. Use road positioning to give yourself extra space and time to see and be seen. 2. Moderate your speed. People struggle to perceive the speed of small objects approaching them. 3. When filtering move gently with the traffic, don’t try to force your way through. 4. Have an escape route planned just in case the worst does happen. 5. Ensure you can get the most from your brakes should you need them. 6. Consider some advanced training to further sharpen your skills.But it’s not always the driver’s fault. By taking an extra second to plan your riding on the approach to junctions you could just save yourself a lot of time.
Hopefully more safety campaigns will begin to look beyond the Highway Code’s idea that dressing up like ‘Dayglo Derek’ makes much difference to rider safety.