Tuesday 21 May 2019

Motorcycling: with power comes great responsibility

Enjoy life on two wheels - but please be careful out there too

Photo posed
Photo posed

RSA Expert

I don't think I have ever seen my 13-year-old son as happy as the day we went to the Motorbike and Scooter Show in Dublin's RDS back in March.

The bikes on display were mind-blowing. But what really made his day were the two on display at the RSA stand. They were on loan from his uncle; we hoped they would act as a magnet to entice people to our stand. We wanted to get as many bikers as possible up to our exhibit to complete a survey on motorcycle safety.

My young fellow still has a smile after his unforgettable experience of climbing on to his uncle's two motorcycles. They were no ordinary bikes. They were road-legal world superbikes: a BMW HP4 and a Kawasaki Ninja ZX-10R.

I wasn't really that surprised when he announced, on the way home, that he wanted to learn how to ride a motorbike when he was older. Honestly, if that's what he wants then I won't stand in his way. I will certainly make sure he has the right attitude.

I'll be sure he gets the best possible training and personal protection equipment, if that's the route he chooses. Of course, I told him it will be a while before he can ride a bike as powerful as a BMW hp4.

Motorcycle sales are definitely on the increase. According to the Central Statistics Office (CSO) 1,556 new motorcycles were registered in 2018 compared with 878 in 2013.

Motorbikes are generally more environmentally friendly, time- and fuel-efficient, and easier to park. As millions of trained motorcyclists prove, biking can be fun, safe and satisfying - provided you are competent at what you do.

There is no denying the fact you have less stability and crash protection on a bike than in a car. But these disadvantages are slightly offset by having better visibility, hearing and manoeuvrability on a bike.

Your attitude towards riding your motorcycle is probably the most critical factor in determining the likelihood of you having a crash. This means recognising the responsibilities you have to yourself and others and taking them seriously. As his uncle told my son while sitting on the world superbike: "With this much power comes a lot of responsibility."

Having those bikes at our Motorbike and Scooter Show stand certainly did the trick. We had lots of bikers complete the survey. The preliminary findings show that, of the 450 surveyed, 12pc reported having been involved in a road collision in the previous two years, while three in five (59pc) had a near-miss in the same period. July was the most dangerous month for collisions involving motorcyclists.

As the weather turns finer, there will be more motorbikes on our roads. My message is to please recognise your vulnerability, wear proper personal protection equipment on every trip and make sure your bike is in roadworthy condition.

If you have had a break from biking over the winter period, give yourself a chance to refresh and restore your riding skills. Finally and most importantly, ease off on the throttle and keep within the speed limits. Previous RSA research has shown that bikers speeding is a factor in half (49pc) of fatal collisions involving motorcyclists. Equally, I'm calling on drivers to be on the lookout for motorcyclists, particularly at junctions and in blind spots.

Indo Motoring

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