You might be surprised to know that most bikers involved in serious crashes on North Yorkshire’s roads aren’t over-exuberant youngsters – they’re middle-aged men, says North Yorkshire Police’s Deputy Chief Constable Tim Madgwick, who is also motorcycling safety lead for the National Police Chiefs’ Council.
How many times have you heard the phrase: “It wasn’t like that when I was young?”
Television (remember when four channels seemed like a lot to choose from?) music, clothes, politics.
You name it, it’s changed.
You can add motorbikes to the list. The most powerful production bike you can buy today is around three times more powerful than anything you could have bought in the 1970s.
Motorbikes have got faster. Much faster.
Unfortunately, our reaction times haven’t.
That’s a potent combination, and something North Yorkshire Police’s current campaign – Born-again Bikers – is asking older riders to consider carefully as they saddle up this summer.
In the last year, 60 per cent of motorcyclists who lost their lives on our county’s roads were middle-aged men. Nearly all were riding powerful motorbikes with 500cc engines or bigger. And around 70 per cent of serious motorbike collisions were due to rider error. These are telling statistics.
North Yorkshire has some stunning rural routes, especially around the Harrogate area. But these snaking strips of asphalt can be dangerous places. In fact, the A59 between Harrogate and Skipton is in North Yorkshire’s top-five routes for serious or fatal motorbike collisions.
We don’t want to stop anyone from riding their bike, let alone the people who have reached a stage in their lives when they deserve to enjoy themselves and live life to the full.
Who could deny the appeal of riding a beautiful route like the A59 on a sunny September morning?
But we need bikers to pay more attention when we talk about being safe.
Over the last ten years, 141 motorcyclists have died and 1,328 have been seriously injured on North Yorkshire’s roads. These people are not just statistics. This shows why we need to keep persuading people to ride more safely… and keep finding new ways to deliver that life-saving message.
One of the new approaches we’re using in our Born-again Bikers campaign is animation. You can watch it at www.northyorkshire.police.uk/biker.
It’s something a little bit different, but we hope riders will watch the video, share it online and take heed of the message.
We’re also using it to encourage older bikers to do BikeSafe training, in which our officers help riders brush up existing skills and learn new ones.
They’re convenient, they’re cheap and they really could save a life.
These officers ride motorbikes for a living, so they certainly know their stuff.
One of their top tips is if you’re new to biking or returning to it after a break, be realistic about your physical capabilities and choose a bike that matches them.
You can always graduate to a more powerful machine when your riding ability reaches a higher standard.
So if you’re a biker in your 40s, 50s or 60s, bear in mind that motorbikes have changed since you were young. And although it might be an uncomfortable truth, so have you.
It’s a simple but important message – motorbikes get faster, your reaction times get slower. Don’t let your dream ride turn into a nightmare.
l You can find out more about starting or returning to biking, book BikeSafe training or see more about the Born-again Bikers campaign at www.northyorkshire.police.uk/biker