Twist Grip – June 2016

A word from the Chair - August 2015

Sandy Dickson - August 2015

So what am I going to rabbit on about this month then?

Well a couple of things caught my eye this month, but before that I attended the IAM ‘Roar’ event at the National Motorcycle Museum. As ever, when on the bike I am not really all that interested in the destination, only the journey. However, in this case the destination was very interesting, I had no idea that quite so many death traps had been built masquerading as motorcycles in the past 100 years. It is a miracle anyone survived and that motorcycling has thrived as a pastime.

The journey itself started well but descended into an M6 filtering marathon for 20/30 miles. Two noticeable differences as you travel further South, the two second rule does not exist and commuting is simply unpleasant. The event itself was well attended and clearly members had travelled from far and wide.

The things that caught my eye this month concern ‘big brother and ‘road safety’. All good stuff for an IAM paper. It is alleged that Police Scotland intend to run a trial of stopping people who exceed the speed limit by 1mph in the interest of safety, previously, I thought it was only the Welsh that were that daft but it seems not, Brunstromitis as I might call it, far from being dead, has in fact spread, perhaps a bit like giant hogweed – a non- native species and difficult to get rid of.

Anyway, it is alleged that the boys in blues might have said

We are talking about people who might be law-abiding in every other respect but fail to realise the risk they pose by driving on autopilot or failing to pay enough attention to what is going on around them.

When I read that, how I laughed. Then I noticed in another newspaper the following headline (so it’s bound to be true)

Five injured after driver ignores road markings to give way because her SAT NAV told her to go straight on - on same junction teenager was killed for the same reason 

You will recall that I have bit of a bee in my bonnet about the ‘thinking rider’ but that equally applies to the thinking driver and the thinking police officer – the application of common sense goes a long way to dealing with most problems.

So, if there is a wally about following their sat nave blindly, might I suggest you ignore your speedo for a time and pay attention to the real hazards, namely other road users. If you are looking at the speedo, you are not looking at the road & remember, we are talking about 1mph over the limit.

As we seem now to be a nation of statistics , I would be interested to see the ‘casualty’ figures for accident that could have been avoided /prevented by a reduction in speed of just 1mph – given that in urban areas (the slowest speed areas in any event) you are about 4x more likely to be involved in an accident than non-urban areas.

On my trip today with my associate we passed several of the lycra clads – their wee legs going like toffee hammers and my speedo indicating 25mph+ - so can I expect to see then giving over the details to the boys in blue in our new 20mph Edinburgh utopia?

When I learned to drive in the 70’s car and motorcycles were essentially death traps, you sat in a steel box with a steel dashboard and a steel steering when (seatbelts not required), in cars with poor brakes, dodgy electrics and hopeless tyres. The road between Dollar and Tilicoutry was a 60mph road with a standard centre markings and I drove along it at 60mph frequently (obviously this was in the days before I knew the risk I was taking and before I had human rights).

I happened to drive that road last Sunday, it is now restricted to 50mph with double solid white lines for most of its length allegedly, in the name of safety. I can only conclude that the road (which to my certain knowledge has not moved) is now far more dangerous that it was in the 1970’s despite the very significant advances in car technology, driver training and safety generally.

The good news is, there is hee haw chance of the 1mph limit being enforced almost the same as the 20mph limit, there are not the resources and the fact is, it would simply be a waste of time. Lothian buses will have to re-write their entire timetable for  a start and 20mph is too slow to engage a driver’s attention fully.

I suspect that the 1mph idea comes in part because the accident statistics are up again, despite the introduction of average speed cameras on the A9, the reduction if the drink drive limits, the increase of 20mph and 50mph limits. Perhaps the problem is something to do with bad driving and no training whatever in thinking and risk analysis and not a minor infringement of an entirely arbitrary speed limit?

Something to think about.   

Observation, anticipation and position and a speed and gear appropriate to the road/traffic conditions are the keys to safety – the thinking rider/driver. But why try to solve a problem when you generate income from maintaining the problem?

So, be safe out there and watch out for those 20mph limits, a bored driver is an inattentive driver?