Bikers think Motorcycle Awareness Month a great idea
In 45 years of riding a motorbike, Timaru man Grant Ramage says he has had cars pull out in front of him, and drivers do u-turns in front of him, fail to indicate, and, most recently, tailgate him.
"Cars are not aware of motorcyclists and don't associate the size of the motorbike with its speed," Ramage said.
Not surpringly, then, he thought the first national Motorcycle Awareness Month, being held this month, was a great idea.
There were 62 motorcycle crashes across South Canterbury in the last five years, of which three were fatal and 19 resulted in serious injury.
Throughout New Zealand 52 motorcyclists were killed in 2016.
Bikers make up 16 per cent of the overall number of road deaths and are 3 per cent of road users, according to Crash Data Analysis collated by the New Zealand Transport Agency and NZ Police.
Developed by the Accident Compensation Commission (ACC) and supported by the Motorcycle Safety Advisory Council, the awareness initiative aims to raise the profile of motorbikes on the road and encourage all drivers and riders to improve on their skills through training courses.
Ramage said he thought all motorcyclists should complete a refresher course every 10 years, as technology changed.
"A lot of people, same as car drivers, have driven for years so they think they are good at it but now we have ABS (anti-skid braking system) so it stops quicker.. .You need to get to know your bike.".
He said 'born again' bikers were the worst. They were the motorcyclists who gave up riding once they had a family, then, when their children had grown up, got back into it, but forgot they had aged and bikes were a lot faster.
David Blaikie rides a Harley-Davidson 2005 Dyna Wide Glide and has had many near-misses over 20 years.
"Usually motorists forget you are behind them. Someone told me you should not stay behind them for more than five minutes. And they sit on the white line, which makes them hard to pass."
Some motorists had never ridden been on a motorbike so had little understanding of the challenges bikers faced on the road, he said.
Poor observation is a factor in 40 per cent of motorcycle crashes, according to the NZTA and Police data.
South Canterbury Road Safety Co-ordinator Daniel Naude said the reality of motorcycling was the rider was more vulnerable than in a car.
"They (motorcyclists) need to take extra steps to look... It does not take much to lose control. It doesn't matter who's at fault, the motorcyclist is always worse off.
Part of Motorcycle Awareness Month is promoting Ride Forever, an ACC-accredited motorcycle training group which teaches and upskills riders, from novices through to advanced levels. Courses in Timaru are based on demand, with the next two on September 27 and October 7.