Think bike

RE: Open letter to Dyfed- Powys Police and Crime Commissioner Christopher Salmon.

YOUR concern at the increase in motorcyclist fatalities in traffic incidents is welcome.

Many of us have been moved through the natural range of emotions following the tragic deaths of people we knew or knew of. As you may know camaraderie among bikers is strong.

The[your] reported phrase “Some motorcyclists leave behind broken families for the sake of a moment’s thrill” is unfortunate as it could lose you popularity among a large population of deeply aggrieved riders who are extremely aware that although there is a hooligan element of irresponsible racers who should be playing at trackdays and not the public highway (hopefully the projected track in the Beacons will attract many of these to play where it is safer), the vast majority of riders are responsible, unburdened by a death-wish.

Many of us seek to improve our skills with such as the Dragonrider and Bikesafe courses and develop further with ROSPA or IAM training.

We also note that while the apparent improvement in statistics over 2004 continues for motorcyclists, for pedal cyclists (among which many of us including myself also count ourselves) the figure is extremely worrying (1), and wonder why you are particularly singling us out for comment?

I believe that nothing will completely remove the problem of irresponsible riders AND drivers, however.

48% of bike crashes are caused by four wheel drivers who fail to take adequate observation before manoeuvring (2). Many of these lead to fatalities.

Almost all of the drivers are “punished” for irresponsible manslaughter with a short ban; a tiny fine; and possibly a few days’ community service.

The Wales members of the Motorcycle Action Group would appreciate your acknowledgement of these facts and serious consideration that the frequently seen dents in cars’ bodywork are less important than the potential consequence of the impact which they represent to a rider. We would like to see serious repercussions for drivers who either through lack of awareness or -worse, deliberately aggressive actions- put us in our vulnerability at risk. We would like to see an end to gimmick speed traps and a return to a police presence which seeks to protect the public.

We would appreciate you not using phrases which demonise us and could even encourage a public perception that biker deaths are our fault and therefore justifiable.

If we can be of service please let me know.

PHIL MCFADDEN

South Wales Regional Representative Motorcycle Action Group

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