Despite the recession charities continue to collect record breaking amounts no doubt as we all feel there is always someone worse off. Bikers are benevolent so as you get ready for egg runs, village fetes or ride outs to raise cash for the local hospice or another equally worthy cause just take the time to read this and think a little to make sure your good intentions don’t land you in a whole heap of trouble with the fuzz.
Charity runs and similar events can attract thousands of bikers including those who only venture out rarely and maybe don’t properly check the roadworthiness of their dusty steed from the shed. Over zealous traffic police who need to boost their figures have been known to park on inward routes with speed guns or to pull over any small number plates, race only pipes and other modifications. Be warned you are a sitting duck, easy meat, a lamb to the slaughter. There is no “charidee” excuse if your bike breaches the law (see various Construction and Use Regulations) and certainly not if you are riding aggressively, too close or in an intimidating way. Keep calm and ride well.
Carrying pillions is a particular issue. Whilst it may seem like a laugh to have Orville the Duck, Tony the Tiger or Nelly the Elephant perched on the back of your R1 waving a flag and a bucket, the rozzers might take a view that the purpose for which your bike is used or the manner in which your passengers are carried is such that the use of the bike involves a danger of injury to any person (s40A Road Traffic Act 1988) and thus “your nicked son” (The Sweeney 1975).
Pillion experience rides at a few quid a go can have the punters queuing back to the tombola. On private land you may be ok but on the road all rules still apply and the major concern is you could be in breach of your insurance if it all goes wrong as the “not for hire or reward” exclusion in virtually all policies including yours would bite. Points, a fine and possible disqualification could follow as you would effectively be riding uninsured (s143 RTA 1988). You could also be personally liable for any claim arising which could be ruinous.
In any event the organisers or you should have public liability insurance cover often a prerequisite of any council run or approved event. As I write this a case of a push chair blown into passing traffic with obvious and catastrophic consequences has just broken. The bizarre does happen so if you are organising an event ask a broker to source such insurance cover. It is worth foregoing the price of a few mosquito nets to afford the often tiny premium and so you can sleep easily.
Be careful as well when taking any pillion if they have been drinking. There is strangely no specific law in relation to drunk pillions but if Bob the Builder has had a few shandy’s and is standing on the back seat singing “Yes we can!” you are undoubtedly riding in a way the magistrate will not accept. A due care and attention conviction is points and a fine, dangerous driving by contrast is a stay as a guest of Lizzie (s2 and s3 RTA 1988).
The vast majority of events pass off without incident and are a vital and enjoyable part of British biking life and with just a little thoughtful preparation the disaster scenario can easily and cheaply be avoided.
Mark Lampkin, Motorcycle Law Solicitor.