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I Don’t Believe It!

June 26, 2010


BikeSafe assessment debriefing

Pitlochry, Scotland – There is no getting away from the fact that you cannot please some people…..

You may well think that yesterday’s announcement, from the UK Department of Transport, that the number of people killed on British roads last year reached a record low would have been welcomed by road safety campaign groups. Well sadly at least one campaign organisation finds itself unable to offer credit when it’s due. Brakes response warned that the reporting of accidents was flawed, saying that there were often gaps in hospital statistics. Self interest? Almost certainly. As grants are cut in the recession and people, through economic pressure, find it harder to support charities the fact that what you are campaigning to achieve is being achieved is not too good for the finances, so if in doubt get the boot in.

The stats are:-

2,222 people were killed on Britain’s roads in 2009, 12% down on the 2008 figure and the lowest annual total since records began in 1926.

There were 472 motorcycle user fatalities in 2009, 4 per cent lower than during 2008 (493). The number reported as seriously injured fell by 4 per cent to 5,350. Total reported motorcycle user casualties fell by 4 per cent to 20,703 in 2008. Motorcycle traffic rose by 2 per cent over the same period.  The all motorcycle user casualties figure for 2009 of 20,703 is 4 per cent lower than in 2008. 

There can be no doubt that a 1.0 per cent fall in overall traffic levels (which follows on from a 0.8 per cent fall between 2007 and 2008) is a factor in the reduction of motorcycle crashes. There are simple less people out there to crash into us, or us into them. But the figures also underline the efforts being put into road safety and road engineering to make motorcycling generally safer. Not to forget the efforts being made by riders to act safely and responsible, often in the face of complete idiocy from other road users.

With that thought in mind that it’s vital that riders, should they choose to be, are trained to the highest standard. It’s in this area that BikeSafe plays a vital role. BikeSafe, if you didn’t already know, is an initiative run by forty-five UK Police Forces who work with the whole of the biking world to help to lower the number of motorcycle rider casualties while increasing riders ability and confidence.

BikeSafe is an obvious target for cuts in an economic recession. It relies, in part, on Chief Constables maintaining a motorcycle unit in their force area. It is part funded by charging riders a fee to take part but often this fee does not represent the whole cost of the BikeSafe assessment or no charge is made. Thus subsidies from supporting organisations are essential. Funding and support comes from diverse sources such as local authorities, the Department for Transport, the Association of Chief Police Officers, the Driving Standards Agency, the Motorcycle Industry Association, the motorcycle training industry and voluntary organisations. This system is both a strength and a weakness, in ‘normal’ times it provides funding even if one organisation drops out. In a recession when, every one is cut, a loss of support and funding is almost inevitable, and the ability of riders to pay comes into question.

We will never truly know how many lives have been saved or injuries avoided by BikeSafe assessments and subsequent rider training, but they most certainly have been. So when the real funding cuts come in 2011 and all the ‘authorities’ and ‘charities’ revolving around road safety feel the pinch and start the infighting over the much diminished government funding and the ‘who gets what’, please lets consider putting some of the current protest energy into ensuring BikeSafe continues.

Perhaps the ‘cannot be pleased’ posse should remember that charity begins at home and support BikeSafe too. A big ask? Perhaps then the question needs to be asked. In some cases has maintaining the ‘charity’ the ‘organisation’ become more important than the advertised outcomes?

© Back Roads Rider 2010

2 Comments leave one →
  1. June 26, 2010 7:59 am

    I have mixed feelings about BikeSafe. I attended this, and taken as it is supposed to be taken, it is an excellent introduction to awareness, and an opportunity to be assessed by a fellow rider tha DOES know how to do it properly. Fantastic.

    The down side is the number of people that then don’t bother doing anything more…IAM/RoSPA/etc…Further more because they have had “police training” they feel more self justified in riding quicker, or don’t feel a need for further training because they have already done an “advanced rider course”.

    Unfortunately I have met numerous people with this take on BikeSafe. Yes it increases awareness, but whether that is having a big effect on rider safety is, in my mind, questionable. Certainly for those that are encouraged to go on to do more comprehensive courses, then, of course, yes…very useful.

    Does anyone have stats on what proportion of BikeSafe delegates go on and complete advanced courses?

    John Reeves MIAM, RoSPA (Gold)


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