I’d like to start by saying I’m not a writer, a reporter, or a journalist. I’m not highly educated and I possess very few literary skills, (thank goodness for smell check).
I can however offer a variety of, what I would call, interesting skills and takes on life.
Having left school with reasonable qualifications, I started my police career in South East London before moving to the Traffic police, which saw me riding a BMW RT80 – oh the joys of cable to hydraulic brakes and fixed foot rests (yes you could get them down!).
My personal rides were a CBR1000 and a VFR750. The invention of motorcycle radial tyres made the VFR fantastic and I seem to remember it would easily reach 175mph (in the right places of course).
After a few years of having a jolly good time I moved to the Cayman Islands for a couple of years, teaching people to dive, driving boats and having a great time. I was over confident again, testing limits and diving on air 200 feet plus, which does not exist on the air dive tables.
My other half, for some reason, did not share my idea to buy a boat and sail back to Blighty (which was probably a good idea in retrospect), so we flew and settled down with children etc.
After working as a despatch rider for a couple of years I returned to my original calling and re-joined the police in East Yorkshire.
Personal rides have slipped by the wayside recently, but if you’re riding around the county on a bike with the benefit of blue lights, the appeal of social riding at 60mph is pretty low; and I cover a fair few miles at work…
My current work rides are a BMW R1200RT, a Yamaha FJR1300R and a Suzuki GSX1300R Hayabusa (more about that later).
Some of you may question my move to ‘the dark side’, but as a Roads Policing Unit we deal with Road Death. There’s no way to ‘glam’ it up, that’s how it is.
Apart from the investigation of how it happened, there is the joy (not) of having to tell families that their loved ones have been killed, or seriously injured and may not survive… I know other professions have to do this but I’m pretty sure there are not many occasions when a doctor has had to ‘cold call’ at a house at stupid o’clock to deliver the news.
This, plus the mountains of paperwork, red tape and the battles at court where people doubt everything we say, may make you wonder why I do it… Check out the photos of current work rides left and above.
Why then, would I volunteer to spend the time doing this introduction and committing to a future column? Quite simply I want to help people. It might sound a bit cheesy put like that, but it’s true.
I’m not sure everyone would see ‘doing’ people as helping, but its not them, it’s the families that we would otherwise be having to talk to. The families we have to tell that they can’t see their husband, wife, or children, or can only see a small part of them due to the horrific disfiguration.
Quite simply I would like to eradicate roadside memorials; not get rid of existing ones but stop them at source because personally I see every one as a reminder that we failed to prevent another death.
Ooooh got a bit passionate and emotional there, but on a lighter note here’s some facts from the Dept of Transport 2011 motorcycle KSI (Killed and Seriously Injured) figures: three times as many motorcycle riders are killed in collisions compared to pedestrians; their casualty rates are four times those of pedal cyclists – and they are over forty times more likely to cop it than a car driver.
The most common cause of KSIs for motorcycles over 500cc was loss of control, followed by failing to look properly, then failing to judge the other person’s path or speed.
While the most common cause of KSI’s for motorcycles under 500cc was learner or inexperienced rider, followed by failure to look properly, then loss of control.
This is why I do it.
So why The Riders Digest?
I see an online magazine as an excellent place to reach a wider audience. Good communication is a two-way thing so a regular column will give readers the chance to ask questions that might otherwise fall into the too hard to research/can’t be bothered/who do I ask box.
I’m hoping that it will provide a forum where ‘both sides’ can meet in a neutral situation and discuss the many issues that arise out of riding motorcycles on public roads; and I will endeavour to answer questions about my chosen field, providing information and clarification for anyone who asks or wants to read about it.
If you have a sensible question about the police, traffic law etc., email me at email@example.com because you can bet your last shekel that if it’s been bugging you, someone else wants to know too.
As for the subtly marked Hayabusa camera bike, there are a few media stories about that explain what we do; The One Show aired a feature on 11/04/2013 (I have been assured that we will be able to provide links to view it through a police YouTube account… and I will be sure to let you know as soon as the ‘technical issues’ have been ironed out), the Yorkshire Post ran an article on 28/02/2013 and a few national publications are planning to run something in the near future – plus there is a strong possibility of a documentary later in the year on Channel 5.
In the meantime you can view the video Humberside Police have produced to introduce Operation Achilles here.
Anyway, as the sun starts to show itself this month and the fair weather riders emerge, remember to get your ride checked before embarking on this season’s ride outs. Even if everything seems to be mechanically sound, be sure to check your tyre pressures, you’d be surprised how many don’t… and crash!
PC Graham Pierce