There is nothing particularly complicated about this month’s clip of the month. In fact, valuable lessons in accident prevention rarely come any less complicated than this one. However, the obvious nature of the accident, and the way in which it could have so easily been avoided, in no way diminish from the learning opportunity the clip provides us with.
The run up to the accident is simple – a biker riding along a straight road (whether or not it was too fast is difficult to tell given that the speedo is out of view of the camera), loses concentration and rides into the back of stationary or slowing traffic. The outcome for both rider and bike (not to mention the innocent car driver) is not good – a very badly damaged bike and a broken femur and wrist for the rider.
The Highway Code is very clear on the (obvious) need for appropriate care and attention. Rule 144 in the section “General advice” states –
You MUST NOT
drive without due care and attention
drive without reasonable consideration for other road users
Whilst this is of course sage and wise advice, Rule 146 is slightly more specific and states -
Adapt your driving to the appropriate type and condition of road you are on. In particular:
Do not treat speed limits as a target. It is often not appropriate or safe to drive at the maximum speed limit
Take the road and traffic conditions into account. Be prepared for unexpected or difficult situations, for example, the road being blocked beyond a blind bend. Be prepared to adjust your speed as a precaution
Where there are junctions, be prepared for road users emerging
On side roads and country lanes look out for unmarked junctions where nobody has priority
Be prepared to stop at traffic control systems, road works, pedestrian crossings or traffic lights as necessary
Try to anticipate what pedestrians and cyclists might do. If pedestrians, particularly children, are looking
Appropriate and effective observation is one of the most important cornerstones of advanced riding (and indeed any sort of riding). The reasons why need no explanation (or if they do, the video clip shown above gives an excellent reminder of why “How to be a better rider” dedicates at least six pages to the subject of observation). Associates will often hear Observers talk extensively about “vision up” and “reading the road ahead” for very good reason.
However, it is not just observation for the sake of observation that is important – there is a significant difference between looking and actually seeing. Past attendees at the Metropolitan Police’s excellent Bikesafe courses will attest to this fact after they have seen the video involving the dancing gorilla at the basketball game (if this last sentence makes no sense at all to you, ask somebody who has done the Bikesafe course, or even better, take the Bikesafe course to find out for yourself).
A common fault amongst non-thinking riders is to concentrate on the road very close to them (up to about 20 metres), but no further – this can have serious consequences as the video clip demonstrates. By reading the road ahead and constantly scanning the middle and far horizons in addition to the near and rear horizons, your time to anticipate, plan for and ultimately mitigate hazards is maximised – effectively creating your very own personalised early warning system.
Intelligent observation neatly ties into other key aspects of advanced riding such as positioning (good positioning will boost your forward observation), as well as the TUG (Take, Use, Give) aspects of the Information part of IPSGA.
Observation is not just about reading the road ahead though – do not neglect the observation opportunity given to you by your mirrors or the “Blind Spot Check” look over your shoulder (referred to in some circles, quite appropriately, as a “lifesaver”).
“How to be better rider” sums up the vital importance of observation by stating “Effective observation is a key element of better riding. It will give you time to plan and head and spot potential hazards before they become a more serious problem”.
However, as with all aspects of intelligent riding, the key is not slavishly following a rule or technique without thinking. Page 32 of the book talks about the importance of “selective observation” and gives some very useful advice on how to quickly and effectively distinguish between useful and irrelevant information picked up through observation.
It is impossible to say why they rider in the clip didn’t react to the car in front slowing down. In order to avoid the same situation, making use of appropriate observation, and recognising when tiredness or discomfort is impacting concentration, would all have helped.
Would you like to nominate your favourite biking related clip as clip of the month? It can be anything you like with a motorcycling theme – examples of sparklingly good riding, best practice, hazard avoidance, inspired planning, intelligent decision making, lessons to be learned, sheer idiocy or simply something side-splittingly funny. Please send your nominations, along with a link, to email@example.com
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