Friday, June 23, 2017
Ride at your peril on danger roads

Ride at your peril on danger roads

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Mike Woof
Mike Woof

South London has the capital’s most dangerous road for motorcyclists, with 86 accidents taking place in the area last year.

The A23 from Lambeth, through Kennington to Streatham, was the scene of the highest number of deaths, injury or damage to bikes, a survey has found.

The A2, from New Cross through Blackheath and Kidbrooke to the Rochester Way was the fifth-worst in London, with 39 accidents.

And the A3 from Elephant & Castle to Stockwell, Clapham and Wandsworth, was the ninth-worst highway for accidents, the survey found, with 30 incidents. The figures, from insurer Swinton, showed that 59 per cent of London’s victims were aged 25 to 40 – and that 88 per cent of the accidents took place in fine weather. Most were on a Tuesday.

A total of 58 per cent involved bikes with engines which were between 50 and 125cc in size. Brixton biker Mike Woof, 50, said: “I do ride through there fairly regularly on my motorbike. I ride along the A3 in Lambeth too, plus the A2 at Southwark. I’d be surprised if small capacity scooters didn’t figure highly in the crash statistics. There are a lot of younger riders on scooters and mopeds who ride like nutcases, throttle all the way out, weaving through traffic.

“They overtake on the inside and even at pedestrian crossings when everyone else has stopped. I’ve had a few close passes from young riders when I’ve been on my motorbike. “Streatham High Road isn’t great but part of the problem is that a lot of people treat it as a racetrack. “There are also a lot of younger riders now buying powerful motorcycles too, which they don’t have the riding skills or experience to handle properly.

“I see some of the young riders popping wheelies on the road, but they still can’t corner properly. A high performance motorcycle can be very quick indeed. “You do get a lot of young lads on bikes wearing jeans, T-shirts and trainers. When I last had a nasty crash – I hit diesel on the road – I came off the bike at 30mph and slid down the road – but because I had on proper motorcycle leathers, my only injury was a bruised knee. If I’d have been wearing jeans and a T-shirt, the abrasion burns would’ve been very nasty indeed.

“I do a lot on road safety and I get all the crash statistics from across Europe. “I know that research into crashes in Europe shows that about 65 per cent of motorcycle crashes are not the fault of the rider.

“The biggest single cause of motorcycle crashes is from other road users not looking properly. But an experienced rider will back off and use more caution at certain danger points on the road network. Younger riders generally don’t.

“I’ve been riding motorcycles in London for 28 years now and safety isn’t nearly as bad as it used to be. But one thing I can say for sure is that mobile phone use is endemic among car drivers, despite the tougher penalties, and is a real danger for anyone on two wheels.”

In all, 91 per cent of incidents happened on A roads in London – and 95 per cent of them involved male riders.

One woman biker who regularly uses the routes, Kym Purnell, 35, from Clapham, said: “Motorists do not think about us when they position their cars, vans and buses. “They stop in places where it makes it very hard to take a straightforward path, so you are forced to weave in and out – and that is not safe. “Bikes are much quicker than cars travelling in London. I would be even quicker if I was prepared to be more daring, but I am not.” Rodney Kumar from road safety charity and IAM RoadSmart, said: “We often find that while drivers and motorcyclists strive to be as safe as possible, some find it a challenge to understand exactly how to do so.

“And as time passes after our driving tests, some of the simple tips we learnt to help stay safe can fade into the background. That’s why it’s so important to offer useful and easily digestible information on how to be a safer biker.”

Dan Agate from Swinton Insurance said: “Motorcycle safety should always be front of mind for any rider, and awareness events are great reminders of just how imperative it is to do what we can to stay safe on the road.

“And talking about it now to riders ahead of summer months, is really important. We hope our interactive map and guides help people to think more about safety with every journey they make, come rain or shine.”

Tips on motorcycling in London: https://www.swinton.co.uk/spotlight/motorbiking/road-safety/national/greater-london/

Chief Reporter | Former news reporter on Daily Mail and Times, former editor in Edinburgh and Barnet. Sports editor and father for 15 years. Once made nine doormats for Harrods entrances. They lasted two years.

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Ride at your peril on danger roads