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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

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Cumbria biker deaths stark warning

MOTORISTS have been urged to be vigilant ahead of one of the busiest weekends of the year after five people were killed and two seriously injured in three weeks on Cumbria roads.

In Cumbria there have been six major motorcycle collisions in the past three weeks – four of which have been fatal, and one car driver was also killed.

Now, as riders are preparing to head out on bank holiday weekend the Evening Mail is highlighting calls for motorists to drive with care in a bid to stop further deaths.

On March 30 three bikers were killed along with a car driver on a day of fatalities on Cumbria’s roads.

Michael Iveson, of School Terrace, Lindal, died on the A595 after a crash in Whicham Valley; Ian Alan Broughton, 52, of Horwich, near Bolton, was killed when his motorcycle crashed on the A684 at Langston Fell, near Sedbergh; and Iain David Prestwich, 49, of Blencogo, Wigton, collided with the car of William Bell, 85, of Moor Road, Great Broughton, who also died.

Another motorcyclist was taken to hospital with serious leg injuries after a crash in North Road, Barrow, on the same day.

Less than seven days later Scott Gibson, 23, of Lesh Lane, Barrow, died after hitting a police van on the A590 between Melton and Lindal, on April 4.

A woman – who was riding pillion – remains in serious intensive care at the Royal Preston Hospital following a crash which knocked her from a motorcycle on the A590 near Haverthwaite on April 11.

Police have launched Bikesafe, a road safety course aimed at riders, in a bid to help reduce the number of motorcyclists involved on road traffic collisions.

Sergeant Jo House, 36, Bikesafe coordinator at Cumbria police, said: “I don’t think you could say accidents are caused by a common factor – you have to look at them on their merits.

“People have to have time to react so you need patience.

“For drivers the issue is not pulling out in front of vehicles and for motorcyclists it’s about if you pull our for an overtake it’s about making sure you have time to get back in and be able to react to whatever happens in front of you.

“Road users need to be more vigilant in understanding what hazards are and how they can cause you harm.”

Sgt House, who has served as a police officer for 12 years, including five years in the roads policing unit, said there are five key areas where bikers should be aware of hazards; overtaking, filtering, group riding, junctions and cornering.

She added: “Bikes these days are made to be loud but even still car drivers might not hear them.

“Nationally 33 per cent of all motorcycle collisions are one vehicle and that means 33 per cent of collisions where a rider could have either done something differently but it is a difficult message to get out.

“Always having a plan B can make a difference.

“I’ve been a motorcyclist since I was 18 and that’s why there was such passion about it.”

Sgt House said almost every biker has a brush with death and she has been no different.

She said: “Any biker will have lost people on the roads – I have lost a family member and a colleague.

“It’s about putting a name to a bike.

“If you start to associate those motorcycles with people you love and you will act differently.

“If you see something like that it does make you reassess how you ride and what you do.

“It makes you think what would I have done if I’d been behind that person and that’s why we’re offering Heart Start courses along with the Bikesafe course.

“If you’re the first on the scene the feeling of helplessness is awful, having the skills to give basic first aid can make a difference.

“We’re really urging people to sign up.”

The poor state of the county’s roads is a constant bugbear for many drivers but for motorcyclists potholes and fuel spills can prove fatal – as can a lack of driver awareness in keeping an eye out for motorcyclists.

Abb Chambers is treasurer of Millom Bike Group, has urged all motorists to be vigilant in a bid to prevent further casualties.

He said: “Often when we’re on ride-outs and you meet other road users they say they just can’t see but you’ve got to ask how large does a bike have to be to be seen?

“What we’ve been saying and what I’d say to anyone on a motorbike is wear high visibility clothing, a lot of leathers are black or grey – some are multi-coloured but even those don’t stand out. Don’t be the next statistic.”

Mr Chambers, 64, has been riding motorcycles for almost 49 years but said as he has got older some of the more powerful bikes have proved too fast for today’s roads.

He added: “There are motorcyclists now who are coming on the roads who haven’t ridden in a while.

“Some of the older boys are on machines much faster than in their youth and a lot of people involved in the accidents are used to using Triumphs, or other old bikes, and they keep the throttle at a similar place but could be going round a corner 25mph or 30mph faster. I never ride above the speed limit, I had an accident years ago and got done for speeding and you do learn.

“There is a big problem with the quality of roads for bikers, there are potholes up to six inches deep – if you hit one of those or blow a tyre you’re a goner. There’s diesel on roads, there’s slurry and, again, if you hit that you’re a goner.”

Mr Chambers is not alone with his emphasis on riders having a proactive approach to safety.

One of the country’s best loved bikers Barrow-born Dave Myers, one of half of TV’s Hairy Bikers, has been riding since he was 17 and has ridden his bike all over the world.

He argued that investing in leathers with spine protection is vital to help protect riders against injury.

He said: “I ride very defensively because it’s amazing how people will cut out in front of you.

“The one accident Si King has had, after riding three times around the world, was in Newcastle when a woman pulled out in front of him and he said afterwards ‘there was just nothing I could do’.

“It might be expensive but having a good quality helmet goes without saying, decent leather with spinal protection are a must too.

“I love motorcycling and my wife loves it and I take her out with me but I try to ride as safely as possible, I keep to the right side of the road and I keep well in because if a car makes a mistake at least you can keep close to the edge and stay clear.

“A lot of what we call born again bikers who haven’t ridden bikes for 20 or 30 years and bikes have moved on a lot and a lot of them often get into trouble with a lot of fatalities in the 40 plus age group.”

Have your say

With motorcyclists now amongst the most highly trained and regulated users of our roads, it's time to start looking at the training of other road users. Furthermore, anyone who uses the excuse of "I didnt see him" must be given a compulsory sight and drugs/drink tests and forced to take an extended retest. If you can't see motorcycle, how can you see a child!

Posted by SRS on 19 April 2014 at 08:58

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