As some of my readers will know, I came back to biking about 4 years ago. I am your typical “born again biker”. As a result of being away from biking for so long, this means that I have not had any formal rider training or any type of riding skills assessment for about 36 years. Gulp.
In preparation for my forthcoming tour of the USA I thought it might be a good idea to put this right in some way and today I did exactly that.
Throughout much of the UK, groups of motorcycle Police run what are called “Bikesafe” days. This is an initiative to help to lower the number of motorcycle rider incidents and casualties. By passing on their knowledge, skills and experience, police motorcyclists can help riders become safer and more competent.
So this morning I rode to a Metropolitan Police centre on the north side of London that was the base for a days assessment of my riding skills. There were 5 of us riders being assessed, ranging from a young student who was new to biking, to a couple of people that had been riding for many years. The ratio of Police motorcyclists to riders was incredible – it was one to one. We were allocated one Police motorcyclist each, for the whole day! I found it somewhat amusing that the name of the Police motorcyclist assessing me was Colin Paris. Paris for France.
The day essentially comprised 3 parts. The first part was a few talks about general motorcycle safety, observation skills, road positioning and awareness skills. The second part was a one hour city ride followed by a two and a half hour rural ride on country roads where the Police motorcyclist rides behind you watching every move you make. It is a little nerve-wracking at first, but the guys work at creating a relaxed environment and after a while, it just feels like a couple of people out riding their bikes. You don’t forget that it is a Police motorcyclist behind you for a good part of a day, but you soon get used to it. The third part is the feedback session at the end of the day when you are told about what is good and not so good about your riding.
My overall impression of the day was excellent. Having a professional motorcyclist assessing you is rewarding and Colin spotted things that I didn’t realise about how I ride my bike. Additionally, you are put into an environment that really makes you think about your riding. I found myself noticing more road signs, thinking about what could happen in “what if” situations and putting myself in a position where I felt more confident about riding. I left the day with a new vision about riding a bike. It is the overall feeling of being more aware of what was happening around and ahead of me that felt good.
The day was very good value indeed. At just £45 (about 65 USD) it is a bargain. This of course is subsidised, so thanks go to Transport for London for re-investing some of our congestion charge money back into something we benefit from.
Overall, a top day.
Here is a link to the Bikesafe days website
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