April 8 2009

“Sorry mate, I didn’t see you”

… or ‘SMIDSY’ for short…

Where have I heard that before? Usually following an RTC at a junction and interviewing the driver that has just pulled out on a motorcycle.

It’s true in what they say though, these motorists DO look for you, they just genuinely don’t ‘see’ you until it’s too late.

But why is that? We have stats, theories and plenty of pub arguments which have searched for the answer. Some swear by Hi-Viz aids, others merely on the colour of your crash helmet…but one thing is certain, unless you anticipate other motorists at a junction you are making yourself a target. Treat other road users as if they haven’t seen you and that they will pull out on you and little will happen that’ll give you cause for concern. And if they do pull out on you at least you can be smug about it and get away with just a knowing grin and an ‘I knew you were going to do that’ thought to yourself.

Managed to have a nice run out on my own bike to the New Forest the other weekend. 14 bikes and a bag of chips down at Lyminster and it just about made my day, lots of other bikers out there as well which is great to see… and nice to continue the two-wheel work on an ANPR operation in Oxford.

ANPR (Automatic Number Plate Recognition) is a great piece of kit which helps us deny criminals the use of the road and detect uninsured and disqualified drivers… it simply reads number plates, compares them to information on a number of databases and relays relevant info to stopping officers who then act upon it.

Now that Spring is upon us and we’ve had a few sunny days I’ve noticed an increase in riders riding around with main beam switched on. It’s not by accident they are under the impression that by dazzling other road users they’re making them aware of their presence. But apart from being anti-social (I like my retinas unburnt thank you!) you’re actually causing yourself more grief by doing this. The problem with the main beam is that it distorts the distance you appear to be away from something. For example, although a motorist waiting to turn right out of a junction will see you nice and early (this is the argument), you will appear further away than you actually are and lull the motorist into thinking they have more time then they actually do to pull out….the consequences are self–explanatory, so have a serious think if you are one of those on main beam permanently.

Finally, yet again I stopped a biker with a rather loud exhaust. ‘Not for road use’ had been stamped but now scratched away.

“Your baffle is missing Sir.”

“Is it?” he replied.

“Yes, it’s effectively a race can on a road bike”

“Race can? That’s OK, I‘m not racing”

… He got 10 out of 10 for his reply, I must admit, but he still got a rectification notice.

I’ll sign off now, please keep yourselves safe out there and enjoy your bikes!