Think Bike – Yes You’ve Heard That Before, But This Time, Its Think About the Biker, Not Just the Bike.
“Clunk Click Every Trip” was only around as a road safety slogan for a short while and once the majority of us had realised that it made absolute sense to use seat belts and buckle up each time we were in a car, the slogan disappeared, ‘job done’.
One road safety slogan that hasn’t disappeared however is “Think Bike” and in an effort to reduce the numbers of bikers killed on our roads a new campaign began on 20th June using national radio adverts and nationwide forecourt advertising, to remind drivers to watch out for motor cyclists and even using Facebook activity to push the message home.
Well, that’s all very well and a great thought, but frankly, unlike Jimmy Savills “Clunk Click” campaign which actually worked and did its job, the “Think Bike” campaign hasn’t worked in the past (or we wouldn’t be where we are) and can you honestly say that as a rider or a driver, that you really think this re-launch of “Think Bike” is going to work? We all know the answer to that, because history has already shown it does not.
If the campaign had worked, we wouldn’t have these awful statistics and to prove that point, let’s look at some figures, Motorcycles account for around 1% of the traffic on UK roads, yet account for 21% of the deaths on British roads and that’s an awful statistic.
In the UK, we have some of the worlds safest roads, yet motorcyclists are 50 times more likely to be killed or seriously injured than car drivers and on average, 9 motorcyclists are killed on the roads of the UK EVERY WEEK and another 5350+ are very seriously injured every year. 50% of the accidents happen at road junctions.
So whilst this re-visit of the “Think Bike” campaign makes good press, its effectiveness clearly hasn’t and its got to be time for everyone involved, car drivers, truck drivers and motorcyclists to figure out why and then take some action to make a difference.
As I said earlier, it seems to be very non-PC to criticise bikers in any way, as they all rally to the defence saying they never speed, never drive dangerously and as yet, I haven’t found a biker who admits to being one of the loonies many of us see in traffic every day.
To give this an honest airing, I decided I would do a vox pop around some of our 250 staff and ask what their experiences were in relation to motorcycle riders on the road. The following are some of the comments, questions and views I got:-
- Why do bike riders always seem to wear dark clothes?
- They know they are putting themselves at risk, but they clearly don’t care!
- They sneak up on you far too quickly and you just don’t get time to see them.
- Why do they ride so fast all the time?
- I overtake plenty of cars on the dual carriageway, I can’t remember the last time I overtook a motorcycle?
- Why do Motorcyclists push in front of you at the traffic lights
- Why are bike riders not legally required to wear a fluorescent high-visibility jacket?
- Why do they weave in and out in traffic
- Why cant they just stay in a line of traffic
- Why are they so pushy?
- There is something wrong with someone who wants a bike that does 180mph
- Why is this campaign aimed at car drivers and not motorcyclists?
I detected a general resentment towards bikers, primarily because it’s felt they can get away with things that car drivers can’t. Drivers don’t like bikers queue jumping and we all the know the British obsession with queuing, but more worrying is that everyone I spoke with had stories where they had witnessed bikers blatantly breaking the law and putting themselves at risk in doing that.
I asked the bikers I spoke to why it appears they drive so aggressively and whilst pretty much to a man, they agreed it might appear that way, they felt it wasn’t aggression but riding “decisively”. One rider said that because his bike gave him the ability to make a manoeuvre in lightning quick time, “when the opportunity arrives, you take it”.
A gentle middle aged family man with a couple of kids, had pleasure in telling me he had ridden his new motorcycle at up to 170mph on the A11, and maintained it was safe to do so and was not endangering anyone.
Our offices are located at a busy traffic junction and almost everyday, we see bikers leaving the traffic lights pulling a wheelie, with the front wheel off the ground for what seems ages.
So let’s cut to the chase here.
Bikes are inherently unstable, for if you stand still on one and take your feet off the ground, you fall over. They are smaller, so clearly, they are not as easy to see as something which is bigger. When it rains, or the road surface is slippery, they don’t break so well and don’t manoeuvre so well making it much easier to fall off and as far as I know, you can’t fall off a car.
In addition to that, they are for the main part massively powerful, with 190mph top speeds and 0-60 mph times of ‘under 3 seconds’, so they close up on you massively quickly and again as we all know, for the main part, they don’t sit behind you in traffic, seeing it as almost a mission to pass every vehicle they come up behind.
It certainly appears they are ridden aggressively, yet even a middle aged guy with kids, doing 170mph does not think that’s wrong or dangerous.
Many car drivers don’t have much time for bikers, as they resent the fact they can queue jump, they hate the biker squeezing past in traffic to get in front of them at the lights and honest law abiding car drivers are appalled that bikers can so easily break the law without being punished for it.
So running the “Think Bike” campaign yet again, when you look at today’s accidents and fatalities, smacks of desperation and lack of imagination by the Road Safety Minister and clearly isn’t going to do the job. It’s aimed at motorists, not bikers, so it’s shifting the responsibility to the car driver to, watch out for the bike rider and I guess telling car drivers to ‘just jump out of their way’. It’s stated that this campaign will put motorcyclists centre stage in a bid to encourage drivers to look out for bikers by placing the focus on the person behind the helmet.
What happened to your own personal responsibility for your actions? If you are a biker, you are in charge of a hugely dangerous, often massively powerful, inherently unstable and clearly difficult to see machine. That sounds like a recipe for disaster, so surely riders should just cut car drivers a little slack and accept the fact it’s sometimes with all the best intentions, very hard for car drivers to spot them and whilst I am one of the drivers who move over to the left to give bikers room as they come past, some drivers are lets face it, anti-biker because of the way they see them behave and that’s the environment they are travelling in.
So in closure, we don’t want to see families scarred for life by the loss of a loved one, but the think bike campaign almost encourages bike riders to abdicate the responsibility of keeping themselves safe and passes that on to all of the other road users and for the reasons I have given above, that’s giving bikers a false sense of security which will lead to more deaths and more serious injuries for our two wheeled buddies.
As you leave this article, just think on this statistic. Just 1% of the traffic on our roads are motorcycles, yet motorcyclists account for 21% of the deaths on our roads and that’s means a biker is around 50 times more likely to be killed than a car driver. These are not good odds, so you need to do something about it. You decide!