Motorcycling & Safety Cultures

As with all activities in life, there is an associated risk attached and it is our ability to limit substantial risk and personal injury that enables us to do these daily activities.

Safety systems and protocols exist, often without us actually being aware of them, to enable us to achieve our goals.

Unfortunately, ‘Safety’ as a general concept, gets a bad press as being too restrictive and hinders our freedom to exercise our pastimes, but in reality the ‘safety blanket’ actually protects those freedoms we actually hold so dear.

If we consider motorcycling and motorcycle design over the last few years, there have been tremendous advances in biking & personal safety especially in protective clothing and general technology, however each in itself will offer protection up to a certain point…it reaches a performance limit!

An over reliance on any protective equipment or technology without a regard for ‘safe’ operating practices will ultimately lead to a high probability of injury or fatality. Indeed, on this very point, whole industries and regulations have been created to deal with this.

Each time a motorcyclist rides a motorcycle, there are inherent risks associated with that, which most riders acknowledge however many seldom & regularly attach a ‘safety system’ to their riding. 

A ‘Safety System’ is one where a rider consciously and proactively seeks potential hazards in order to be able to avoid them. By acknowledging environmental conditions such as weather and road conditions and consciously striving to improve road positioning and hazard perception whilst riding at an appropriate speed for the conditions, the rider is able to ride safely whilst fully enjoying the benefits of motorcycling for the present and future.

A safety culture is one where each participant not only employs a safety system in their daily routine, but also is able to openly promote the general concept with others who in turn then adopt the same system. As  individual riders it is often easy to become ‘disconnected’ with the rest of the riding community. In many cases individual riders’ only source of safety information is from magazines or the internet and that is an area that could be hugely improved upon.

Riders who belong to groups or clubs, in general terms are more likely to adopt a safety system or safety culture, however in many cases they are totally unaware they are adopting a ‘safety culture’. In real terms the system does not have to be so formal, in fact it can be as simple as a general discussion in passing.

It is beneficial to engage with groups and clubs etc to be part of this informal discussion process, however it is up to the individual rider to seek out continued training or advanced training to develop skills in their ‘riding career’.

For many riders, advanced training or further riding courses is not something that is necessarily appealing for various reasons. An alternative is to adopt the ‘rider buddy’ system in which riding friends actually take turns in looking how the other rider is riding and then discussing the points which were good but also which could be improved upon. The idea here is not to publicly embarrass someone, but merely to raise points which can be beneficial for all. When riding in any size of group it may also be beneficial to have a brief chat beforehand to talk about riding speeds, lead rider and other rider roles etc and after the ride then collectively discuss how the ride went, the good points and the not so good.

By adopting this safety culture, it becomes the norm which leads to reducing the potential risks by improving riding practices and hazard perception…individually and within groups. 

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