Many people use motorcycles, scooters and mopeds as their main or only mode of transport. Come rain or shine, they are on the road, commuting to work, travelling to college. . . So we asked a man who has to ride in all weathers for some expert advice about staying safe on two wheels through the worst of our British weather.
Roads Policing Officer Mike Abram, from Merseyside Police is also a member of the RideSafe BackSafe team and has these words of wisdom for winter;-
“ Winter months will always be colder, wetter and darker, but unpredictability is the real danger for motorcyclists. Heavy rain can impair your vision through a helmet visor, cold weather can numb your hands and some road users fail to adjust their speed to suit the prevailing conditions. ‘Micro climates’ can catch you by surprise. It is possible to travel on dry road surfaces, then across wet leaves in wooded areas and black ice in sheltered dips, all in the space of just a few hundred metres. Here are ten tips that should help;-
1. Ensure that your machine is road worthy – check that your brakes, steering and lights are all working properly. Inspect your chain, wheels, tyres and tyre pressures regularly, top up oil and coolant levels if necessary.
2. Complete these checks when you get home at night or on your way home; this is not something to be rushed before you leave in the morning.
3. Wear the right gear – you cannot operate the switchgear with frozen fingers and if rain or cold air is whistling around inside your clothing, it will distract you. Wear layers that keep in the warmth and repel the rain.
4. Create your own routine – check boot straps, press studs, adjustable strapping, zippers, connectors, pockets; secure everything for a snug but comfortable fit.
5. Stand out from the crowd – wear bright colours in daylight hours and use high visibility clothing at night and in low light conditions (even just a hi-vis bib will help).
6. Use your head – It makes sense to carry a tinted visor with you for those bright, clear days, but you should use a clear visor by default. Use one with ‘anti fogging’ or ‘mist retardant’ properties and carry a visor cleaner and cloth with you at all times.
7. Gently does it – all rider input should be smoother and more progressive when conditions are poor or road surfaces are unpredictable. If you use the right gears it is possible to decelerate safely without using your brakes every time. Be aware of traffic behaviour behind you; they sometimes need to see a brake light to notice that you are slowing down.
8. Command your own space on the road – correct positioning and positive manoeuvres should improve your chances of being seen – and seen earlier – by other road users. Although, you should never make any assumptions about the behaviour of others.
9. Let there be light – Use your side lights and headlights correctly, but remember that if other traffic has lights on, you are more difficult to see and it is more difficult for others to judge your relative speed and distance.
10. Stay legal – you should have the appropriate licence, valid insurance, a valid tax disc on display and an MOT (if the machine is more than three years old).
“Ensure that you ride in the right mind set; leave more time for your journey, concentrate always, anticipate the risks early and be considerate towards others “.