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Responsibility ??

July 4, 2011


Cumbernauld, Scotland – And now the good news…..

In the UK mainland motorcycle road user casualties, reported to the police,  have fallen for the third year in succession. There were 403 motorcycle user fatalities in 2010, 15 per cent lower than during 2009. The number reported as seriously injured fell by 11 per cent to 4,780 while total reported motorcycle user casualties fell by 10 per cent to 18,686 in 2010.

All the efforts being put in to reducing casualties by road safety officers, trainers, road safety campaigners and of course the riders themselves are having a positive effect, or are they ? Perhaps not, or perhaps not as much as we would like to think, if we consider that over the past three years motorcycle traffic has fallen by around 12 per cent.

It really does seem that there is a correlation between the number of users and the number of casualties, well that’s a surprise then!

So where does that leave the cycle advocates “ critical mass theory”. Remember that one, the more cyclists there are on our roads the more likely that other road users will consider them and thus cycle casualties will drop. In 2010 reported pedal cyclist casualties increased by one per cent, when compared with 2009. In the same period cycle traffic levels increased by 0.5 per cent. I rest my case.

On responsibility. UK road charity Brake have again entered the biking arena. This time its calling parents who buy their children junior motorcycles irresponsible and that junior motorcycles are “inappropriate for children”. Nice little story that’s had a considerable number of people voicing opinions about Brake, some unrepeatable, and in general got Brake a bit of free publicity in the circles that count, i.e. the fund-raising ones.

Of course there’s a back story here. What actually happened is that the UK national paper the Daily Mirror ran a story in its gossip column about model Katie Price buying a Yamaha PW50 child’s motocross bike for her six-year-old son. The journo involved, wishing to spice up the piece, calls up Brake who handily provided some suitable quotes on how shocking it is that Katie is subjecting her child to the danger of riding junior motorcycles.

A few calls and e-mails later and the stories all over the UK biking press, even on the British Motorcycle Federations (BMF) Facebook page. And what’s been achieved? Well little of any substance, unless you count  the winding up of a few bikers, the sale of a few papers and making the BMF look like it is in touch. It’s one of those stories that suits both sides, it has elements of manufacture. The UK motorcycle press by offering quotes like “the leading national road safety charity” and  “influential charity Brake” are simple offering Brake the oxygen of publicity it needs to survive.

So just to add some balance here is something to bear in mind next time a Brake story err breaks! Brake is peopled by the bereaved relatives of road crash victims, for whom I have great sympathy. However I do not believe that such people should have as much influence on our road safety policies and strategies as they wish to or appear to. We need policies and strategies based on fact and research not emotion and run by professionals.

Ride safe, ride free, have fun.

© Back Roads Rider 2011


3 Comments leave one →
  1. July 9, 2011 11:41 am

    yep – certainly is one charity that uses too much oxygen – now that it’s head is tucked away safely in NZ it seems odd that the voice is still travelling so far…hence the need for more media and parasitic funding I guess!

    • Back Roads Rider permalink*
      July 9, 2011 11:46 pm

      Oh yes Brake New Zealand. I’d strongly suggest that NZ bikers start getting organised now, but you have with MAG NZ.

      Brake Chief Executive, Mary William’s, tactics like turning up at Parliamentary meetings with the relatives of road crash victims, forming nice little Parliamentary pressure groups, giving MPs awards, holding conferences, organising road safety weeks and hi jacking ministers into giving Brake plenty of funding are running out of steam here in the UK, hence the move. Is it that or she fancies a nice cosy retirement.

      Don’t get me wrong, Mary lost a close relative in a road crash and I do sympathise, but has she the right to inflict her angst on the rest of us, that is the question?


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