Think Bike Think Biker Think You! As a lawyer dealing with the aftermath of serious motorcycle accidents and being an avid biker Mark Lampkin our resident legal guru highlights the common and easily avoidable ways lives of bikers and those that don’t see them can be changed catastrophically and urges us all to think of the person beyond the leathers and helmet.
My first ride on a motorbike was on a Mobylette rev and go moped we literally found dumped on an abandoned railway line and in a scene reminiscent of the famous five it became our summer project. I remember when this was all fields and we used jumpers for goalposts; ok so I’m showing my age but times were different then. Once I had a fix of the wind in my hair with the smell of two stroke in my nostrils I was hooked.
Most bikers of a similar age will have a similar story as to how they fell in love with the thrill of riding and now with the average age of bikers constantly rising it is these born again bikers that you will see on the roads of North Wales as soon as this relentless rain stops and the floods subside. I accept that they look intimidating and with aftermarket exhausts so loud they loosen your fillings they can be annoying but look beyond and you will see a whole family.
In my career I have seen the smallest mistake, a mere nanosecond’s inattention by a car driver destroy the lives of many related to the rider but it wasn’t until recently when I had the opportunity to talk to a driver involved in a fatal accident, in which she was to blame, that the impact of all involved was brought home to me. I’m no psychiatrist but her trauma was as severe and life changing as many victims I have dealt with. In these accidents the mental anguish is shared and just imagine how this woman, a mother herself, felt knowing that her tiny failure to look again left two daughters fatherless.
I make no apology for being dramatic. This is important and I implore all drivers to take a moment to have bikers in their thoughts as the season starts but I can offer some tips on how we can all help. Here are my top five bike accident scenarios for you to start with.
When emerging from a junction onto a major road, remember the old advert. Think once, think twice, think bike. The human brain can play tricks and scientific tests have proved how easy it is for the brain to “ignore” the bike that is approaching when instantly scanning a scene. It’s called inattention blindness and could happen to anyone. Force yourself to look again.
When turning right through stationary traffic, often having been flashed out, just assume that a bike will be overtaking the line of traffic. I accept that he perhaps shouldn’t but it happens as regularly as Ant and Dec appear on telly.
If you ever miss your turn or realise your sat nav is taking you to Shrewsbury Massachusetts rather than the one on the Severn and you want to perform a U-turn……just don’t. I lost a dear and lovely biking friend through a u-turn by a travelling salesman looking for his next appointment. U-turns are, in my opinion, one of the most dangerous things you can ever do on the road.
Turning right is probably the second most dangerous. Twenty twenty vision does not extend to that blind spot just over your shoulder so again just presume there will be a bike overtaking and look again.
Changing lanes is again another where your two blind spots can fully hide the biggest motorcycle. When learning to ride you are taught to turn your head to the left or right to look back in a manoeuvre known as a “life saver”. It has always troubled me that car drivers don’t have this built in to their training as it would surely “save” even more lives.
Please have a lovely spring and a delightful summer travelling around our beautiful region but remember that beauty attracts a lot of bikers. Let’s look after each other.