A couple of threads recently have highlighted to me that attitudes to motorcycle safety vary widely around the world.
Here in Australia, whilst legally the only requirement is for a AS compliant helmet (some full face, some open-faced) - the majority of bikers choose to do the sensible thing and wear:
full faced helmet some kind of armoured jacket (either leather or heavy-duty cordura) armoured pants (leather, cordura or kevlar lined denim) suitably designed boots (leather, NO laces...) leather armoured gloves
Of course there are exceptions and you do see the odd fool in plain jeans, sneakers and a tee-shirt - together with the obligatory helmet. On these occasions I wince in anticipatory pain having seen and heard too many stories of people having their legs and arms scrubbed by an E.R. nurse with a wire brush to get the gravel out.
The growing trend of scooters (low powered, less stringent licensing requirements - automatic gearboxs) - means that lax safety gear is becoming more commonplace and every day I see guys and girls with bare legs, arms and open toed footwear just cruising through the city streets waiting for their hospital appointment to happen! Hospitals workers have stated that the number of horrendous injuries from low-speed scooter 'offs' is growing all the time and clearly the standard 'urban chique' dress code for scooter users is exposing them to this unnecessarily high risk.
So what the biker dress code in your part of the world? If inadequate gear is the norm - Why? Do people not realise the likelyhood of injury? Do they believe themselves to be untouchable with a 'wont happen to me' attitude? Is it a cost thing? (Good gear can be expensive) - or is there something I'm missing?
Originally posted by Alan Wanwierd: So what the biker dress code in your part of the world? If inadequate gear is the norm - Why? Do people not realise the likelyhood of injury? Do they believe themselves to be untouchable with a 'wont happen to me' attitude? Is it a cost thing? (Good gear can be expensive) - or is there something I'm missing?
A very common scene from "my part of world" hehe, in India.
This is why the TATA group has come up with the 2500 USD car - the people's car. Biker dress code - No gears, Some cities are making people to wear Helmet compulsorily.
Originally posted by Alan Wanwierd: Do they believe themselves to be untouchable with a 'wont happen to me' attitude? Is it a cost thing? (Good gear can be expensive) - or is there something I'm missing?
Truly a thought provoking question. Even after falling down with minor bruises couple of times, I don't use any gears and off late, I am using helmet because of the law. I don't know this is because of my 'Won't happen to me' or 'My driving is good' attitude or carelessness. Good gears are expensive but affordable when compared to the losses if met with an accident. One reason could be the weather. Can't even imagine about wearing heavy leather jackets, corduroy denim and heavy boots on a hot day while driving in Chennai (the place where I dwell). Lol.
We have Helmet laws here (Virginia USA) which I disagree with. I think that if you are dumb enough to ride without a helmet, its good as long as you haven't yet had children. Improve the gene pool and all that. But I've aways worn a helmet, even before the law. And its been a full face one since the first Bell Star came out.
Smart folks wear at least a heavy jacket, there are some fairly nice ones with armor, etc. that are not too ugly. The obvious problem is that strong clothes are hot in our summers.
Riding in shorts and t-shirts is common, but a really bad idea.
The helmet law in Texas is that you can go without one if you have enough insurance to cover your medical bills when that SUV plows into you because the driver was too engrossed in a mobile phone conversation to be paying attention.
Personally, I'm always helmeted, booted, and gloved. Always. (Well, always on the bike. I take them off to go to bed.)
In the Texas heat you tend to see a lot of helmet-less riders in shorts and shades. Too much sun on the noggin apparently disperses any notion of common sense.
Me and my V-Star (March, 2005):
[ July 22, 2008: Message edited by: Bear Bibeault ]
Originally posted by Bear Bibeault: In the Texas heat you tend to see a lot of helmet-less riders in shorts and shades.
I always wear a long-sleeved shirt when I'm riding my bicycle (that's the human-powered variety) because I've fallen off a couple of times -- at low speeds -- and I know what can happen. So when I saw this girl wearing a bikini top while riding a bicycle, my second thought was that I sure hoped she didn't fall off.
Joined: Jun 30, 2004
A Brisbane summer would be up there with the hot stuff in Texas (many days of 35C+ and high humidity, occasional days of 40C+)
but the general attitude is 'If its too hot to ride wearing the gear, its too hot to ride'...
Of course I havent yet experienced riding in the summer (only been licenced for 3 weeks now) - so I cant comment on how uncomfortable my kevlar padded jeans and cordura jacket will be!
Heres a picture of me from this weekend where amongst a group of 40 riders I would have been one of the least protected as my gear is not leather:
Originally posted by Alan Wanwierd: but the general attitude is 'If its too hot to ride wearing the gear, its too hot to ride'...
Nice bike. I roadraced a lot in the 70s and 80s. Assorted bikes, TZ250, TZ350, TZ750, etc. On the track, you must wear leathers, gloves, boots, helmets, etc. always. In the summer, it would often be 100+ degrees F (38 C) on the track, while you are standing over a running motor while they clean some junk off the track.
I agree, if its too hot for the gear, drink beer instead.
Well basically, people are just too lazy to follow the rules . In India, few big cities might have enforced safety regulations but in smaller cities even traffic police turn a blind eye to such road safety norms. Road safety gear that is certified to be of some standard in India still has a lesser market share due to prices.
Even I had obtained a driver license after spending over 15 months riding my bike and only wear a Helmet if there is a reason to meet any traffic police personal en route.This is typically due to my lazy attitude or even due to a common feeling/belief -If everyone are riding in such a manner, then why should I overdress? Note:city traffic in my city is notoriously slow average(40 km/hr), which further reduces the likelihood of an accident. I do however agree with the author about the need for an increased awareness about self-protection.
Yeah, in the UK you have to have a helmet and gloves. Personally I always wear a helmet (that I know has not been knocked / dropped), gloves, motorbike boots, and full leathers. And thats even if I'm just going to be doing a short trip.
I agree too; "if its too hot for the gear, drink beer instead.". Also even in a place that allows you to go without a helmet - I would still wear the full kit.
I think if you believe that bad stuff will happen to you while riding then it just might. Thoughts become things. There have been a few occasions where I've found myself thinking about mishaps and usually shit happens right after. If you're too concerned about safety, in India atleast you'll never be able to do anything. Everything can be fatal here. In fact riding carefully could get you in more accidents. sometimes you need to dangerously overtake trucks or speed up suddenly when you see a bus merging into traffic so as to avoid having to suddenly slow down dangerously behind it while it does so. If you stop and think about this stuff and just how dangerous it couldve been you'll be debilitated with fear and not be able to move an inch. [ July 23, 2008: Message edited by: Arvind Birla ]
I want to be like marc
Joined: Jun 30, 2004
I think if you believe that bad stuff will happen to you while riding then it just might.
Theres a big difference between believing something will happen and taking steps to reduce the consequences if it does!
If you follow your philosophy through to other areas of life we coudl assume: 1) You never take backups or your work (no need for any of that pessimistic version control nonsense) 2) You dont pay ANY insurance for anything... 3) You dont have a lock on your door at home etc etc etc...
I dont think I'm going to have a crash - but I'm aware that most riders are like that and every now and then someone does. Sometimes through their own negligence and stupidity (screaming round a corner waay too fast), sometimes because of poor conditions (wet roads, oil or gravel patches) which are harder to avoid and sometimes through insane actions of other road users that can not be avoided.
If I am unexpectedly knocked from my bike by a careless car driver I want to make sure my chances of walking away bruised and angry but not seriously injured are as good as possible.
This is not fatalistic acceptance of the inevitable - its a sensible 'ride to survive' attitude.
... fact riding carefully could get you in more accidents.
In that case you need to re-assess what you mean by riding carefully! Riding carefully means scanning the environment arround you and assessing the risks your exposed to. It means weighing up those risks and taking steps to reduce them wherever possible. In the case you outlined it *may* be true that zipping past the bus is less risky than remaining behind it - in which case you ARE riding carefully by getting yourself out of a potentialy dangerous situation before it develops.
Scanning for hazards is arguably the most important skill of motorcycle riding (certainly in an urban environment) and it may be true that the number and variety of those hazards is greater in somewhere like India. In that case I would have thought safety gear would be EVEN MORE appropriate in that environment than the slightly less anarchic developed world.
In the US, the biggest cause of bike crashes (other than drunken riders doing stupid things) is cars turning left in front of you. They always claim that they didn't see the bike.
If you ride, you must assume that the car will turn in front of you. You have to know what you will do when it happens. You don't have to just plow into the bozo. Most of the time, it won't happen, but you don't have time to do much analysis when it happens. And it will happen.
Joined: Jun 30, 2004
...the biggest cause of bike crashes ...is cars turning left in front of you
Turning left? pah... its those right turners you've got to watch out for!
(In case anyone isnt aware - here in Australia we drive on the left, hence making a **right** turn means crossing the opposing traffic)
Joined: Aug 16, 2007
Originally posted by Bear Bibeault: That is, without a doubt, one of the most ridiculous statements I've seen posted in this forum.
I think Arvind meant overcautious.If more number of people drive carelessly then sometime it creates problem if you stick to traffic rules.
Originally posted by Alan Wanwierd: (In case anyone isnt aware - here in Australia we drive on the left, hence making a **right** turn means crossing the opposing traffic)
Yeah, when in St Thomas, US Virgin Islands, I was tempted to rent a bike. But they drive on the Brit side of the road. What is more strange, they use American cars, with the driver on the left, but drive on the left, so the driver is in the bushes. I decided that my reflexes might take over and put me on the right side of the road, which is not a good thing to do.
So for you folks driving on the wrong side of the road :-) be careful for when a lorry turns right in front of you.
Joined: Jul 14, 2007
On closer introspection I can see the flaw in my thinking about how being safe can be unsafe at time. The ultimate goal is as much safety as possible. The way I feel driving in India is that there are very little traffic rules like in the west, so if you are to reach a destination you have to suspend all regards to common sense and simply go with the flow. There is a method to this madness and you need to have an understanding of it so as to not to throw off the whole system(if you can call it that) For example if you need to place yourself in a different lane, turning on your indicator and trying to creep in wont make anyone slow down or yield you room, rather you have to speed up faster than the vehicle infront of whom you want to cut in and hurl yourself in - this is the only thing which will make the driver behind you cede you some space. This would appear to be very unsafe, the alternative is to come to a standstill in the middle of traffic with your indicators on and hope someone will let you in, but this is probably more dangerous as you become a sitting duck. So Alan is correct in this regard.
So surviving is the primary goal. But then my friends, the question is why get on a 2 wheeler in the first place? Unlike the example of Data loss, what is the need/compulsion to voluntarily expose yourself to such grave danger? Statistically motorcycle accidents are far far more likely to be fatal. Infact I remember motorcyclists jovially being referred to as 'organ donors' on one of the hospital shows on TV. Lets face it you cannot be too concerned with accidents and fatalities and then decide you are going to up the level of exposure manifold to it. If we use the data example this amounts to buying the most substandard Hard drive on the market, using it in the worse conditions and then brainstorming ways to keep your childhood memories safe. Its sort of a contradiction isn't it?
[Arvind]: So surviving is the primary goal. But then my friends, the question is why get on a 2 wheeler in the first place?
Well, I think there are two main reasons: (1) they're cheaper, and (2) they're more fun. The former is pretty clear - motorcycles are cheaper to purchase, and cheaper to drive (primarily in terms of gas consumption). As for the fun factor, I don't know much about that directly, as I don't ride a motorcycle. But I do know I find riding a bicycle a lot more fun than driving a car. I would guess that many of the same basic principles apply to motorcycles, often moreso. It's fun to feel the wind in your hair, and not be hauling much more than your own body weight for what is at best, armor, and at worst, useless luggage. Of course the armor effect is useful, and I don't mean to discount that. But it's not the only consideration.
rather you have to speed up faster than the vehicle infront of whom you want to cut in and hurl yourself in
And I thought London was bad.
To be honest, if I really want to push it on a bike then a race track is the place. Roads are designed for car saftey.
Joined: Jun 30, 2004
...why get on a 2 wheeler in the first place? ...
Mike was basically right here:
1) Fun - riding a bike is fun. Cruising around attractive countryside all day with a group of mates is a great way to spend time. The feeling of leaning over and powering through a corner is SOOO much nicer than just lurching around in a big soggy car!
2) Cost - my bike cost me a fraction of what I'd pay for a roadworthy car. My insurance is cheaper on the bike than it would be in a car. I use less fuel than the most efficient of hybrid cars, and as a commuter I pay $0 parking a day instead of $30 a day for a car. I weighed up very carefully the cost of purchasing gear, getting trained and licenced and all my onroad costs and decided that for the budget I had I could not afford to purchase and run a reliable car - a bike on the other hand fell comfortably within my budget.
3) Convenience - I could have settled with public transport as a means to get to and from work. It would have worked out similar in cost to the bike (weekly bus fare is about twice the amount of fuel I use, so allowing for bike maintenance and registration costs would even out). Obviously the bus would dramatically reduce my 'danger of death' - but I'd be looking at 60-80 minutes each way to work instead of 15-20 minutes. Furthermore with bike parking being free and easy (for me at least) I cut out that nasty walk to the bus stop and rushing around to get places in time to synchronise with public transport timetables.
Yes I recognise that my safety is somewhat reduced being on the bike - but like all things in life it doesnt have to be all or nothing. The bike makes sense for all these reasons - it makes more sense to me to ride it in a manner that keeps me a safe as I can. Saying "Well I'm putting myself at risk here - so theres no point in bothering to put on any safety gear" just seems daft....