If you are thinking about an Advanced Rider course to improve your riding skills and enjoyment, Bike Safe may be the best introduction. Run by professionals who ride each day – police motorcyclists – these courses will provide you with some honest feedback about your two-wheeling skills and a development plan that includes recommendations to help you continue improving. Bike Safe courses are all about improving your skill and safety on the road with the police helping you along the way.
Motorcyclists are more vulnerable than most other road users. Each day, there are 60 serious accidents in the UK involving motorcycles. At least one will end in a fatality and 16 include life-changing injuries. While ‘Sorry Mate I Didn’t See You’ (SMIDSY) is responsible for some of these accidents, rider error is the biggest contributing factor.
A day riding out with the police might make you feel a bit nervous, but the advice and feedback provided are invaluable. The main drive of these courses is to improve your safety on the road and enable you to make progress. This isn’t so much about speed as it is about rider attitude and maintaining a consistent speed whenever possible.
The courses cover a whole day and have two two parts. Mornings are taken up with theory. You’ll watch useful training videos, discuss some of the finer points of motorcycling, and develop your understanding of how accidents occur. Many of the riding tips and points for discussion are in the police riding manual – Motorcycle Roadcraft. This manual is also available to the public.
You’ll cover issues such as ‘SMIDSY’ and get an explanation of saccadic masking. This is the phenomenon of how the eye collects visual data when people scan an area. The brain then makes sense of it – often with errors. While this is no fault of the person scanning an area such as an intersection, it does result in drivers and other road users genuinely not seeing riders and smaller traffic – even when they appear to have looked directly at them.
You’ll spend the afternoon riding out. An officer will pair with you and maybe one other rider. You’ll take a predetermined route with the instructor watching how you ride and respond to all types of road conditions and hazards. Your instructor will give you feedback throughout the afternoon ride. They’ll be watching how you handle your motorbike, hazards that present themselves on the ride and known-unknowns like horse riders and wildlife.
Bike Safe courses are held all over the UK by the various police forces. Thanks to the great British weather, courses aren’t held over winter. Even so, most forces offer multiple courses from March through to October. You can join their waiting list for this year with a quick visit to their website. Costs vary, depending on where you take your course. Many days of instruction and training cost around £50.
You’ll need a valid motorcycle licence – CBT to A level, it doesn’t matter which. You’ll need your own motorcycle and it must be in a roadworthy condition with a valid MOT certificate (if required). Insurance and the right riding gear are also a must. Some forces require you to bring your insurance papers, so it’s worth checking local area details for the fine print.
Make sure your bike is in good nick and up to an entire afternoon of riding. Courses don’t cover breakdowns and you’ll need enough petrol to make it through the afternoon.
When it comes to riding a motorcycle, there’s always something more you can learn. New ways to improve your safety on the road, and even better techniques to get more enjoyment from riding. The freedom of motorcycling comes with great responsibility. Don’t take your life into your own hands flippantly. Advance your skills and look at your motorcycling career as an opportunity to keep learning with each day and ride. Bike Safe is a great way to do that.