Ian Kerr MBE offers some festive cheer to the motorcycling community
AT THE time of writing we are still awaiting definitive news on which new motorcycles we are going to get in the UK next year. As usual, a few models have made an early appearance in some parts of the world, but the big launches are yet to come. I will bring you profiles on what you can expect to see in dealer showrooms for 2018 in the January edition.
In the meantime, in keeping with the spirit of the season, I bring you a selection of positive news from the world of motorcycling, to add some cheer to your festive reading…
First up is the very good news that the number of motorcyclists killed on UK roads is down by 13 per cent, from 365 to 319, according to the Department for Transport. The fall comes despite an increase in the overall amount of motorcycle traffic.
The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) says this “Demonstrates that motorcycle safety messaging is having a positive effect”. Unfortunately this contrasts with the overall picture, which shows an increase in the number of vulnerable road users’ deaths on Britain’s roads.
Now it is not often that you can congratulate the Mayor of London and Transport for London (TfL) for doing something positive for motorcycling. However, news has just arrived that they have launched a range of measures to raise standards within the motorcycle delivery industry, and on training to improve the confidence and skills of the capital’s powered-two-wheeler (PTW) riders.
Some professional couriers will say it is about time, as many of these riders are ill-equipped in every way, including proper clothing and riding skills, and they are often learner riders working on minimum wage. The behaviour and crash statistics of such riders tend to colour the views of the general motoring public, painting a rather unfairly distorted picture of motorcycling.
The new strategy is part of ‘Vision Zero’, which aims to eliminate death and serious injury from collisions on the capital’s roads by 2041 – a laudable target. Recent figures published by TfL prior to the press release detailing the project, show that motorcycle riders and their pillions accounted for 27 per cent of serious injuries and 28 per cent of all road fatalities in the capital during 2016, despite making up just two per cent of road traffic.
TfL says it is working closely with the motorcycle delivery and courier industry to explore the expansion of the existing LGV Fleet Operator Recognition Scheme (FORS) to include those companies which use motorcycles in London. The voluntary standard, introduced in 2011, has been successfully used to promote safety, efficiency and environmental best practice, by awarding companies Bronze, Silver or Gold accreditations, depending on the standard achieved.
TfL is the first organisation in the country to work with the industry to create a recognised standard for motorcycle delivery companies. This benchmark will cover areas such as management, operations, vehicles and drivers, with companies being audited on factors such as vehicle maintenance, rider training and good operations.
Continuing the positive approach to PTWs, TfL has also created three new training courses for motorcyclists in the capital, which boost rider confidence, skills and knowledge, before and after Compulsory Basic Training (CBT). Included are such skills such as how to secure and ride with a load, plan routes, make safe deliveries and carry out routine maintenance checks on a motorcycle.
And they are not stopping there either, announcing that they will also lobby the Government for changes in the way motorcyclists are licensed and support the Motorcycle Industry Association’s (MCIA) training provider accreditation scheme. Needless to say, the industry association is overjoyed with this helping hand, bringing positive action to Parliament, and applauds TfL for publishing the first Urban Motorcycle Design Handbook, which will help engineers design safe roads for motorcyclists.
Karen Cole, MCIA director of safety and training, said:
Deliveries made on powered two wheelers help reduce congestion for all Londoners and improving the safety of riders is critically important. Making additional training available with accredited motorcycle training schools is a big step in the right direction and we are delighted to be involved in this project.
Jams prompting businesses to look at PTW fleets?
Traffic analyst Inrix has described traffic delays as being like a hobby – albeit an unwanted one. The company’s chief economist, Graham Cookson, said: “While queuing is considered a national pastime for many Brits, nothing is more frustrating than sitting in traffic and it’s a costly activity. Jams can be caused by all kinds of incidents but fuel spillages, emergency repairs and broken down lorries contributed to the biggest pile-ups this year.”
While those of us who ride can be smug as we filter through these jams, influential statements such as this, detailing the fact that drivers can face up to 15 hours of disruption and tailbacks in the worst case scenarios, may get companies to start looking at fleets of PTW’s to save businesses millions of pounds in wasted fuel and time, especially given TfL’s schemes (mentioned previously) and the desire to cut pollution!
For those yet to be converted to the world of biking, the industry’s Get On initiative continues to offer taster sessions. In case you didn’t know, and want to convert a friend or relative, Get On is the motorcycle industry’s free ‘try out’ programme and offers prospective riders a 45-minute taster session with a professional instructor at venues across the UK. All bikes and protective clothing are provided. Get On is suitable for anyone aged 14 or over who wants to learn to ride, from complete beginners to those who are thinking of returning to biking after a break.
Nobody wants to think about a spill damaging their pride and joy. But it is something that we all may have to face at some stage – even if it’s just the machine falling off its stand. Until now insurance write-offs have caused some confusion, so following a consultation involving insurers, car makers, the police and the salvage industry, the A, B, C and D write-off categories were changed at the beginning of October and replaced with new codes: A (scrap), B (break), S (structurally damaged but repairable) and N (non-structurally damaged, repairable).
A and B categories apply for bikes that should not be sent back on the road, although parts from category B write-offs can be reused. While the S and N codes differentiate between vehicles that have suffered structural and non-structural damage.
Even though motorcycles in both instances are repairable and allowed to be sent back onto the road, providing such info on the VC5 registration certificate notifies potential owners of the type of repair that has taken place, allowing them to conduct further checks and try to ascertain more info if required.
Tony Campbell, CEO of the Motor Cycle Industry Association, said:
The motorcycle industry is extremely pleased to be an integral part of this updated code of practice. We have felt that a lack of specific guidance around motorcycles has led to ambiguity for insurance companies and repairers alike.
These latest guidelines clearly set out categorisation for motorcycles and what can and can’t be considered repairable. If followed and respected, these guidelines will have a positive impact on reducing risk to all road users by removing the chance of ‘safety compromised’ vehicles being repaired and put back on the road.
So there you have it. At last bike safety is heading in the right direction and we have some useful schemes aimed at raising the profile of the PTW, which may help the current flagging sales. Here’s to next season’s offerings and safe riding. Remember – keep the shiny side up!