Can’t argue with the fact that the men in white coats want to make motorcycling safer for the inexperienced, given some of the riding I’ve seen around London. But surely by increasing the complexity in the electronic systems it’s going to diminish some of the raw appeal of bikes and their accessibility when it comes to performing some of the maintenance work yourselves. Not to mention raise the costs of the bike and keeping it on the road.
A recent story on the BBC detailed an approach to creating new systems to alert the rider to potential hazards on the road or if they were approaching a bend at a dangerous speed: Motorbikes ‘to get safe driving aids’ Effectively building a ‘co-pilot’ that alerted you via tactile means e.g. vibration in the helmet etc…
It’s claimed work like this will cut down on bike accidents which cause around 22% of fatalities. However, given most of the commuting traffic that I see on a daily basis, I think that 22% can be cut right down if only people would wear the protective gear. How often do you see someone on a bike riding in their shoes or trainers, in their suit/ tracksuit bottoms? Every day! You don’t even look cool when you’re riding and you’ll regret it when you find out that those nice soft shiny leather shoes don’t prevent you from losing a leg or having your foot crushed. Decent leather jackets/ trousers for instance have an abarsive resistance of around 9 seconds before they begin to wear through, how long do you reckon your suit is going to protect you for? Not even a fraction of a second. It’s not that I care for you, I just don’t want to see your bleeding naked corpse in a tattered suit.
Aside from protective gear, another factor that would reduce fatalities and crashes is for those especially on lower power machines to understand that they don’t have the performance for quick overtaking or sudden braking so often they’ll misjudge the situation with a false sense of confidence. And regardless of the power of the bike, you shouldn’t be riding like an idiot into oncoming traffic trying to overtake and assuming that everyone will see you – the amount of riders that blame it on a car rather than their own actions is shocking, not saying it’s never the car drivers fault but occasionally it may not be.
Leading me on nicely that the cause of most biker fatalities – ‘Sorry mate I didn’t see you’. These are the idiots in the car doing their make-up, using their mobile phone, smoking, driving with their dog on their lap (yes! I’ve seen this). Generally treating the car like a magic chair on wheels with no thought behind the wheel. Interestingly when riding motorbikes at a young age or with no experience you’re restricted to a CBT and then power restricted – yet in a car you can have any car you want to learn in as long as you’re accompanied. 3 litre BMW for your first time? No problem! Lets face it the driving test isn’t exactly hard either anyone can pass as long as they’ve got a bit of cash and are old enough. Although soon enough car drivers will end up being herded so maybe it will free up the roads for the us: ‘Road train’ technology trials get rolling
So instead of sticking more electronics on to the bike complicating and increasing servicing costs as well as alienating the tinkerers amongst us, how about getting bikers to wear the gear and create a harder car test with limitations based on experience similar to CBT’s, power limits, direct access license etc…? I wonder how many of the biker fatalities were due to the fault of the rider and of those riders how many were the idiots on their chavved up scooters in their tracksuit bottoms?
I’d rather see scientists deal with ways to tackle inexperience, complacency and a lack of awareness and common sense in riders and drivers alike before we end up with self driving bikes removing part of what makes biking what it is. Also perhaps it would be nice for politicians and councils to spend cash on fixing the road surfaces rather than claim expenses on their second homes!
Did you know that I’m the worlds best rider/ driver? But then aren’t we all.