Born-again Motorbikers

Motor cycling is more popular than ever.

Not only are many more people taking to two wheels for economic reasons – especially in London where they are exempt from the congestion charge – but the sheer enjoyment of the open road on a motorbike appeals to an increasingly wider range of people, including so-called 'born again' bikers.

As summer approaches thousands of people have been dusting off their motorcycles and taking to the road for the first time in months and AA Insurance is advising bikers and other road users to beware of the dangers as the population of bikers increases.

Simon Douglas, director of AA Insurance, says: "Tragically, 80% of all motorcycle accidents are the fault of road users other than the motor cyclist. For car and commercial vehicle drivers it's very easy to miss seeing an approaching motorbike, especially in congested areas.

"It's vital that drivers keep their eyes peeled and expect there to be bikes on the road that might be temporarily obscured by a blind spot. An approaching bike can be hidden by door pillars on your car or by roadside clutter such as bus shelters or parked vehicles – so always look twice. Equally, we're advising bikers to be particularly vigilant for drivers who might not have noticed them.

"Bikes can be repaired or replaced, but bikers cannot," Simon adds.

Most of Britain's 1.6 million motorbikes will be on the nation's roads over the summer months. Claims involving motorbikes typically soar by up to 40% in the spring and summer, according to analysis by AA Insurance.

Another particular hazard is winter's legacy of damaged roads. The AA estimates that icy weather earlier this year caused a 40% increase in road damage, pushing the UK's pothole count up to 1.5 million. Hitting a pothole at speed on a motorcycle can have devastating consequences.

Safety tips for bikers from the AA's own motorbike-based breakdown patrols and AA Insurance include:

  • Make yourself visible – riding with your lights on at all times increases your visibility to others on the roads,
  • Always wear protective clothing – even for short trips – including a helmet, protective jacket, trousers, boots and gloves.
  • Slow down as you approach bends – accelerate out, but make sure you keep to the speed limit. Accelerate and brake smoothly and take extra care in the wet.
  • Constantly monitor your riding and think about your speed, road position and distance from other traffic. Be aware of your environment and potential hazards such as cars pulling out and damaged road surfaces.
  • Seek feedback from skilled riders, try a BikeSafe assessment or Advanced Rider training course.
  • Keep your bike maintained – regularly check wheels and tyres, brakes, battery, lights, oil and chain or shaft.
  • The quality of fuel and oil can deteriorate over time if your bike is not used for lengthy periods – check and replace if necessary before returning to the road.