SWANSEA BIKER BACKS CAMPAIGN TO REDUCE FATALITIES IN SOUTH WALES
A Swansea motorcyclist is backing a new campaign urging bikers in Wales to slow down and stay safe after 2007 figures showed that motorbike fatalities were the highest in over two decades.
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Steve Dymond from Gowerton has been riding a motorcycle for 32 years but an accident 20 years ago prompted him to take more care on the roads. He is supporting South Wales Police’s push to encourage safe riding, which is launched this month to coincide with the start of the motorbike season.
In 2007, 43 motorcyclists were killed on Welsh roads – the highest for 23 years. Steve admits that he’s one of the lucky ones, suffering only broken bones, cuts and bruises over the years despite having three accidents. “I use my motorbike everyday to commute back and fore to work as well as biking for fun,” he said. “I’ve had accidents when it wasn’t my fault. One was a tyre blowout on the M4 and the other was when a pedestrian walked out in front of me. These were beyond my control.
“But the real wake-up call came when I was travelling down a road I use every day. I opened the bike up and was travelling at 89mph when I hit a rise in the road and was thrown off the bike. The bike was a wreck but thankfully I walked away with just my shins ripped wide open. Looking back, I was really lucky.
“Since then, I’ve changed my bike to something more manageable and always make sure I wear the right kit – this can mean the difference between life and death. I’m much more aware of my speed and the dangers around me now and have also learnt to understand the limits of my bike.”
Education is the main focus of South Wales Police’s campaign. Dates for BikeSafe courses for 2008 have been released with seven courses taking place in Swansea and Cardiff between March and September. Last year, 72 bikers attended the two-day workshop where experienced police motorcyclists pass on their skills and knowledge through classroom-based activities and assessed rides covering hundreds of miles over the weekend to put the theory into practice.
Bikers are also encouraged to visit www.walesbybike.com for information and tips for safe riding in Wales. Funded by Mid & South Wales Safety Camera Partnership and written by professional bikers for bikers, the website features seasonal riding advice, hints, blogs, downloads, competitions, tips for car drivers and a safety camera database.
Police motorcyclists will be visiting popular bike haunts throughout March to speak to bikers about safe riding and the training available for them to become more competent riders.
The campaign is also supported by advertising in the washrooms of service stations, bike dealerships and cafes across Wales together with a presence at local events.
PC Kevin Garner, a motorcyclist with South Wales Police who helped develop the Wales By Bike website, said that something needed to be done to bring down the number of bike fatalities across Wales. “We want to provide bikers with as much information as possible on riding safely but without preaching or overcomplicating the issues. Sadly, in my job, I’ve had to attend the scene of many a motorbike crash and not only are the number of accidents on the up but, last year, the accidents started much earlier in the year because of the unusually good weather we had.
“Wales has some great roads for biking and we want people to enjoy them – but safely. Every year, motorbikes become faster, more powerful and more sophisticated. At the same time, the roads have got far more busier which means that bikers need to be much more clued up and keep their riding skills sharp to cope with the demands of today’s roads and machines.”
Neil Rees, manager of JT’s Motorcycles, one of the main dealers in South Wales, said that while the number of fatalities were on the up, so too was the quality and specification of bikes being sold. “While we sold a lot of bikes 23 years ago, it was purely for commuting reasons. The bikes weren’t built for going fast and were a more cost effective means of getting from A to B for those people that couldn’t afford a car. Now, 85 per cent of the bikes we sell are for leisure with the majority of our customers buying a high spec bike to indulge their hobby. Bikes are much more powerful and faster these days. We’re starting to see a change in the types of bikes sold now though with lots of our customers switching to a more laid back style of machine,” he said.
Jim Moore of Mid & South Wales Safety Camera Partnership said that the partnership was fully supportive of this initiative. “One death on the road is one too many and we will do all we can to reduce the number of bike fatalities on our roads and the misery brought to families and friends. Not only do motorcyclists have to be more aware, adhere to speed limits and wear the right kit but motorists in general can help too by remembering that there are many more motorcycles on the road today and, because of their size, are difficult to spot, especially at night or in poor weather conditions.”
To book a BikeSafe course, visit www.bikesafe.co.uk