Editorial, BRM Issue #178

We are forever hearing about too many bike accidents happening on our New Zealand roads. The Police target us, ACC penalises us, and training companies try and help us. But the question is, who’s to blame? 

If you’re a motorcyclist, which is pretty much a given if you’re reading this column, then you may well be saying something along the lines of, “You need to watch out for cars, as drivers don’t see you.” But you also hear a lot of the general public saying, “You need to watch out for bloody dangerous motorbikes, screaming around the roads causing havoc.”

So, who’s to blame for the mounting numbers crashing? Who do we look at to make positive changes on our roads? Well, I’m not a motorcycle crash analyst, but what I do know is what I see when out riding and driving is often worrying, a viewpoint shared by a reader who called the office recently. His wife wasn’t keen to brave the back seat of his bike for the annual pilgrimage to the Burt, so they took the car. He spent 30 minutes telling me of the dangerous, stupid and ludicrous riding behaviour he witnessed during the journey; riding that was enough to scare him, and he’s a motorcyclist. 

“One thing is certain. We need to address the way we ride.”

On a recent trip of ours through the centre of the North Island, I spent the majority of the journey impressed at the courteousness of the car drivers, with many pulling slightly to the left to allow easier passing, friendly waves from Joe Public as they admired the bikes we were riding, and nothing resembling road rage or dangerous behaviour. But, was that a result of the courteous way we were riding? I think it may be.

Unfortunately, also on this trip, I had a number of occasions to mutter in my helmet, “What an absolute dick”. But it wasn’t about car drivers as you’d imagine, it was at the idiots on bikes. We witnessed some hideous riding, with a particular overtaking manoeuvre on a blind corner crossing double yellow lines easily enough to ruin our day if we hadn’t been keeping left in anticipation of just that – an idiot coming the other way.

Is it group mentality causing riders to lose their brains, a lack of training, or a clear disregard for life – I’m not sure? But one thing is certain. We need to address the way we ride. If we don’t, chances are someone else is going to do it for us (i.e. the government), and that will suck. Mandatory fluoro vests, speed limits, GPS tracking – any of that sound like fun? Well, if we don’t stop becoming overly represented in crash stats, then any of that stink stuff and more is a real possibility. We are all human, we all make mistakes, and unfortunately, some mistakes result in tragedies. So, next time you’re out for a ride, think about how you’re riding, whether you’re leaving a margin for error (like when someone is coming at you over the centreline), and make sure you get home in one piece. And for $#%^ sake, wear all the proper gear, please.


“Next time you’re out for a ride, think about how you’re riding…”