Friday, 30 March 2007

Idiotic, unreasoned, and unreasonable.

I'd like to just touch briefly on the subject of motorcycling, motorcyclist safety, and our beloved Labour government.

If anyone's actually reading this, they may or may not be aware of the idiotic suggestion that motorcycles should be restricted in power and top speed to prevent deaths and injury of bikers on British roads. Let me just quote (as originally written, so excuse the grammatical errors).

"I have never heard such arrogant drivel, in defence of bikers, as spouted by Steve berry on today’s programme.Sure there are bad drivers but it seems to me that nearly bikers can't or won’t obey the laws of the road.I live in rural North Wales aleast a quarter of a mile across fields from the main road. Every week-end it's the same.Loud bikes going at least 90 mph overtaking on blind crests, blind bends & even double white lines as if they don't need to take any care.They frighten motorists by coming behind then roaring past, in a cacophony of noise, out of nowhere.In the summer months hardly a week goes by without some biker being killed or injured on the roads of North Wales.If it were up to me I would ban the lot of them.Or throttle the power back to 80mph.One biker was clocked by the North Wales police at speeds of upto 130 mph on narrow country rods with other road users."

As written by 'Stuart P' on the Radio 4 PM programme blog yesterday evening. Now, Stuart P obviously is very much anti-bike, and anti-biker, and I for one, as a responsible motorcyclist, take issue with his points of view.

There are thousands, if not tens of thousands of riders like me. We don't fit into the categories in which Stuart wishes us to reside. Yes, I own a fast bike. It's capable of 160mph, and it will accelerate to 60mph in less time than it takes you to say 'Stuart P is a bigoted cretin'. Both of these facts combined, however, do not add up to me being some psychotic speed-freak with a desire to die, or to kill.

I ride for the freedom, and the pleasure. I ride all year round, in all weather if I have to, and any day of the week. Now, I'm not going to lie and say that on occasion I don't break the speed limit. I'm sure even the saintly Stuart has found himself creeping over 30mph in residential areas. Show me a driver who claims not to break any laws, and I'll find you a liar - but my point is, the majority of the 'Loud bikes going at least 90 mph overtaking on blind crests, blind bends & even double white lines as if they don't need to take any care' are ridden by what we in the biking community know as 'weekend warriors'. They own a big bike. They ride it fast, and often recklessly - and they do it for four or five sunny months of the year. The rest of the year, they drive cars.

Saint Stuart even alludes to this - 'In the summer months hardly a week goes by without some biker being killed or injured on the roads of North Wales'. Absolutely right, in the summer months many of the fair weather bikers will be killed or injured, as they out-ride their skills, dulled by six months of winter off their machine.

These are not 'the lot of them'. These are a minority, very much like the minority of car drivers who choose to race around in souped-up Vauxhall Corsas or Citro├źn Saxos, causing similar mayhem on our roads. The major difference is that these drivers often do their disruption in towns, late at night, and when they do crash, they survive - not through enhanced skills, but enhanced safety inherent in sitting in a metal box.

As a car driver, and biker, I can categorically state that bikers in general have a far greater awareness of traffic, hazards, and other vehicles than car drivers. Daily I witness countless drivers chatting happily on handheld mobile phones whilst driving, changing lanes without indicating, sitting for mile upon mile in the outside or middle lane of motorways, even reading papers spread over the steering wheel or eating toast and drinking tea. In fact, I work with someone who admits to the latter two very readily.

These are the people frightened by motorcyclists 'coming behind then roaring past, in a cacophony of noise, out of nowhere'. Out of nowhere? Maybe if they used their mirrors for observation of the world around them, they would have a greater awareness of the existence of other road users.

So Saint Stuart - Don't tar us all with the same brush. I'm sure your bigotry doesen't extend as far as asserting that all Muslims are terrorists, or that all Afro-Caribbeans are murderous gang-members - but it doesn't stop far short.

Good night, and sleep well.

Angry Dan

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