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Andrew Anderson © 2012 The Happy Biker All Rights Reserved

CRASHES - How to avoid hurting you, others and your bike!

Crashes happen, it’s a fact of life and we are all human after all! But what can we do reduce the risk to ourselves and others?

We are all born with primeval instincts, run or fight. When we are riding we are, at times, frightened of killing ourselves and others, damaging the bike and having to explain to your nearest and dearest that the latest scrape we have got ourselves into is going to cost the earth… and a bit more to put right.

Let’s face it, on a bike, we don’t have a steel cage to protect us, we have a lid and hopefully a good set of leathers, gloves and boots. As a bike rider we ARE more vulnerable than car drivers, we are susceptible to changing road conditions, pot holes, rain mud and the dreaded diesel.

We are physically smaller than a car and thus harder to see, even when wearing bright leathers and riding with dipped headlights on! How often do you hear “Sorry mate I didn’t see you” as you pick yourself and your bike up from the road.

You cannot afford to put your safety in other road user’s hands.

If you are unfortunate enough to have a crash, it will happen to all of us at some stage of our riding career (even Rossi crashes), think….. could I have done something differently to avoid the crash? Could you have spotted that diesel early enough to take evasive action? Could you have positioned yourself better to allow other road users to see you more clearly? Were you not concentrating properly?

I know that this will not be popular, but YOUR safety is really in YOUR hands. Ride like a bat out of hell, making iffy overtakes, riding too fast for the conditions and you will come unstuck. Remember, you must be able to stop in the distance you can see is clear ahead of you.

Would you ride your bike blindfolded? Thought not. But have you ever ridden too fast around a blind bend, not knowing if you will hit whatever is stopped in the road ahead? Just because you cant see it, does not mean it's not there.

When riding, scan the area in front of your bike, the faster you are riding, the further ahead you need to look.

Learn to read the road, a bus stop, means that there might be stationary buses ahead, with passengers wanting to cross the road. Horse manure on the road means there could be a pony and rider ahead. If you see a warning sign for a right hand bend ahead and there wasn’t one for the previous bend, you can be sure that the bend coming up is more severe then the previous one!.....The information is there for you, you just need to train your brain to translate it into a safe riding plan.

Most serious crashes occur on bends, at junctions or whilst overtaking:

On bends riders can loose the front and slide into oncoming traffic or hit something hard, like a lamp post. You can loose the front by going in too fast, debris on the road, breaking whilst banked over or banking the bike over too much.

At junctions riders can get hit by cars emerging from a side road directly into the path of the rider, whilst the driver might be looking right at you, it does not mean he has seen you. Think beforehand what you would do if a car pulled out in front of you, would you try and stop, breaking as hard as you can and hoping you don’t hit the car? Would you try and steer around in front of the car, hoping he stops? Or would you back off as you see the car waiting to emerge, move to the centre of the road so as to give you more time to react just in case he does pull out. Remember you are on a bike, and if you did back off in this situation, with a twist of the throttle, once you have passed the hazard safely, will soon have you back with your mates.

You need to be extra careful when overtaking. Be 101% sure that’s it’s ok to overtake BEFORE you commit yourself to an overtake. If you think that you are 90% safe to overtake, don’t do it!, one in every 10 overtakes could result in a crash…. Sobering isn’t it! You need to be extra careful when overtaking a stationary queue of traffic….. don’t go too fast… ask yourself why has the traffic stopped… is it because someone ahead is turning right….

So think how accidents can happen…”If went around that bend too fast… what if a bus had stopped to pick up passengers… could I have stopped or would I have ploughed into the back of it?”…… you can do something about it. Don’t worry about the one off freak ones… if you do you will never get out of bed. We all know it can happen… some of us have had them, we know bikes are more dangerous than cars… but we all still ride bikes… it’s the buzz.

Collisions happen, but we can all reduce the risk to ourselves REMEMBER:

Speed in itself isn’t necessarily dangerous, but it can get you into trouble. Go slower down unknown roads and pay attention to all the warning signs. Learn to corner correctly before you learn to corner fast. And never never let your mates egg you into getting yourself into trouble…. After all it’s you that will be hurting… not them.

Read the road, signs, surface what are other road users doing, and ask yourself why are they slowing down… look for your vanishing point.

Think that every other person on the road is completely blind who will never see you, especially in your new fluorescent leathers. Even if a driver is looking directly at you… don’t assume that he has seen you.

Be and stay calm and relaxed, if you feel yourself tensing up… stop… ask yourself why have I suddenly tensed? Relax and then when you are in a better frame of mind continue your journey…

Learn from your mistakes, you know no one is perfect. The person, who has never made a mistake, has never done anything. But think what you could do differently.

Remember.... Mud on the road can indicate a tractor around that bend. Horse manure, can mean... well a horse ahead (Oh and pass it slowly, in a high gear so as not to alarm horse and rider), a bus stop ..... means busses stopping, pedestrians, diesel. Road signs, ever asked why they are there?

Rossi recently said “That to be a good rider you need to know the limits of your machine. To find the limit of your bike you need to crash, now that’s the easy bit…. The difficult part is remembering where that limit is, so that you don’t crash again”

Enjoy your bike, and ride safe…. and like all good boy or girl scouts… be prepared..

BMF - Crashes