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The bodyguard

Save your own skin…

Unlike car drivers who are surrounded by a protective steel cage with seatbelts and airbags, moped and scooter riders enjoy the feeling of riding in the open air. Unfortunately this sense of freedom has its drawbacks especially in terms of protection in the event of any kind of accident but also when riding in extremely hot or cold weather or when it’s raining etc. It’s for all these reasons that good protective kit/clothing should be used.

Protective clothing is essential, and should:

  • Offer protection in the event of an accident
  • Keep riders comfortable in hot or cold or wet weather
  • Help to make riders visible to other road users

It needn’t cost a fortune either; you can pick up protective gloves, boots, jackets and trousers for less thank you might think.

Here are the must-haves:

  • Helmet: you have to wear this and have it securely fastened by law. Check for a British Standard mark of quality. If your crash helmet takes a serious knock you’ll need to replace it; even if you can’t see any damage, it could be fatally damaged beneath the outer shell. For this reason, NEVER buy a second-hand helmet.
  • Ensure that the helmet’s visor  is clean and free of scratches, marks and smudges which could affect your vision.
  • Protective gloves: essential, and you can buy lightweight gloves for summer riding.
  • Jacket: a good fitting jacket with extra protection at the elbows, shoulders and back. Check for breathable panels and removable thermal linings so you won’t get hot in summer.
  • Trousers: look for extra protection around the knees. You can even buy normal-looking jeans with protective Kevlar panels in key areas
  • Boots: at the very least, wear a pair of sturdy boots to protect the ankles.
  • Waterproofs: a lightweight oversuit will keep you dry in a downpour.
  • Hi-vis: in daytime, wear a white helmet or fluorescent orange or yellow clothing. At night, wear something reflective

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the watcher

Ready for anything, always in control…

Safety is the single most important thing to consider when riding a moped or scooter. Here are a series of key pointers to help keep you safe whilst out and about.

  • Safety is paramount – always be responsible for your own safety and that of others
  • Ride safely and responsibly – always be alert and observant
  • Remember that mopeds and scooters are vulnerable – they don’t have the protection offered by a car
  • Never be complacent on the road - anticipate what other road users are about to do and know how to react when they do something unexpected.
  • Ride at a speed appropriate for the conditions and which allows you to slow down before trouble
  • Be aware of your mirror blind spots – always check over your shoulder before making a manoeuvre – this is called a ‘life saver’
  • You are vulnerable to car drivers’ blind spots – position yourself to be seen; avoid riding close to the kerb
  • Take particular care at junctions and roundabouts – don’t trust the signals of other road users;aAnticipate their movements
  • Do not ride too close behind other road vehicles – you will be difficult to see and you will be in danger in the event of a sudden stop
  • Be cautious about oncoming vehicles turning left across your path and for vehicles pulling out in front of you from side junctions – avoid the “Sorry mate, I didn’t see you” syndrome
  • Be especially careful in bad weather conditions e.g. when it is raining, foggy or icy and reduce your speed accordingly. Bad weather often means reduced visibility, reduced grip and longer stopping distances
  • Watch for hazards and changing road conditions – road debris, oil spills, potholes, gravel etc can all result in a loss of control
  • Take extra care when riding in a group – crashes often occur when riding in a group, taking extra risks in trying to ‘keep up’ and pressure to race or show off in front of your mates
  • Undertaking – never try to pass a vehicle on the inside. You don’t know if they’re about to turn left.
  • Undertaking a long vehicle: buses; trailers and so on. They may look as if they’re turning right because they need to swing out before they can turn left.
  • Don’t speed into a bend/turn. Go too fast and you may overshoot the turn and cross into the path of oncoming traffic.
  • Beware vehicles suddenly swerving to avoid obstacles.
  • Always take great care when filtering through slow moving or stationary traffic. Where there is a gap in the traffic watch for other vehicles suddenly changing lanes; never filter at speed
  • Be seen by other motorists – use your headlights all the time and wear high visibility clothing
  • Maintain your machine to ensure it is safe, legal and roadworthy; regularly inspect your tyres for wear and damage. Make sure they are inflated to the correct pressure.

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the handler

On the street only your skills can keep you alive…

COMPULORY BASIS TRAINING

You can ride a 50cc bike a whole year earlier than you can drive a car – when you’re only 16. For a 125cc bike you must be 17.Once you’ve got a provisional licence, all learner motorcycle and moped riders must undertake compulsory basic training (CBT) course before riding on the road.

WHAT IS IT?

The CBT course usually takes a day to complete involves theory and practical training, culminating in a 2 hour ride out on the roads in typical traffic conditions.  It will typically cost about £100, but prices do vary between providers.

WHY DO I NEED IT?

Once you’ve completed CBT – and got your DL196 CBT Certificate of Completion to prove it – you can ride on roads with L-plates (providing your bike is insured, taxed and roadworthy) , though not with passengers and not on motorways. You then have up to two years to pass the full theory and practical tests and get your full licence. Take any longer and you’ll have to stop riding or take the CBT all over again.

HOW DO I GET IT?

Look for an approved training body (ATB) and instructor approved by the DVSA

Passing a CBT test and getting onto the road is only the first stage of becoming a safe and competent rider - this only comes with time and experience. Further training might also help.

GETTING A FULL MOTORCYCLE LICENCE

Once you’ve passed CBT and the driving theory test, you need to brush up your bike skills for the full practical test. Since 2009 there have been two modules that you need to pass to get your full licence:

Module one

It costs £15.50 and takes around 20 minutes. It tests your control and safety with six manoeuvres:

1. Wheeling the moped and using the stand

2. Doing a slalom and figure of eight

3. Cornering, hazard avoidance and controlled stop

4. U-turn

5. Slow riding – tests whether you can control your moped at slow speeds, for instance at junctions

6. Emergency stop

If you can perform the manoeuvres with no dangerous mistakes and at both a slow and fast pace, you’ll pass module one. Which means it’s time to take…

Module two

Module two costs £75 or £88.50 for weekend and evening tests.

It starts with an eyesight test (can you read a number plate 20 metres away?) plus safety and balance questions (for instance, how will carrying a passenger affect the balance of your bike?). Then you go on the road for 40 minutes while the examiner follows you on a motorbike, telling you what to do over a radio. You’ll do:

1. Hill starts

2. Angle starts (pulling out from behind a parked vehicle)

3. Normal stops

You will need specific training to get through the full motorcycle test, and you can find an approved training provider to help you – maybe the one who got you through CBT will be a good choice.

FURTHER TRAINING

Once you have passed your full motorcycle test there are a host of further/advanced rider training opportunities available to you:

ENHANCED RIDER SCHEME

The enhanced rider scheme checks your motorcycle riding skills and provides training to help you improve. There is no test. 

You’ll first have a rider assessment with an expert trainer. You’ll ride in different road and traffic conditions. The ride will be long enough for your trainer to make a good assessment of your skills. For most people this is 1 to 2 hours.

If this shows you don’t need more training you’ll get a ‘DVSA certificate of competence’ straight away.

Otherwise, you’ll get personalised training to improve your skills and get the certificate at the end of your training.

The DVSA certificate of competence gives you discounts with most motorcycle insurers.

The type of training depends on what you need to brush up on. You might be offered all-day courses or shorter sessions.

For further information visit https://www.gov.uk/enhanced-rider-scheme

BIKESAFE

Bikesafe is scheme run by the Police and set up to help reduce motorcycle casualties. Bikesafe offers each rider an insight to riding skills aimed at making their riding more enjoyable as well as safer. It is an opportunity to sample some advanced riding before moving on to advanced training.

Bikesafe workshops are designed to enhance the skills of all riders who have already passed their tests, and are particularly suitable for those that may be returning to biking after a period of absence.

The workshops are very much practical and hands on. In addition to a classroom based theory session there will be two observed rides, one rural, one non-rural, in company with experienced advanced riders.

Bikesafe courses in Essex cost £60 and can be booked at http://www.bikesafe.co.uk/Bikesafe/essex.html

Essex FireBike Better Biking Course

Essex Fire Service’s FireBike Better Biking Course is a free course providing advice, guidance and assessed ride feedback designed to improve your existing road riding skills and help you to enjoy safer biking even more.

After an initial classroom theory session, a FireBike team member will undertake an assessed ride with you and provide practical advice and guidance on your riding, highlighting strong points and suggesting areas where improvements can be made through practice. You’ll be given tailored feedback on topics like observation, positioning, gear selection and overtaking.

At the end of the course you’ll get immediate feedback from the FireBike team member. You will be presented with a certificate of attendance and a ‘goody bag’. A concise written feedback report will be sent to you shortly after the course.

You can book a place on a FireBike Better Biking Course by emailing firebike@essex-fire.gov.uk and providing your full name, address, bike make, model and registration number, contact phone number and email address.

Essex FireBike Advanced Machine Skills Course

The FireBike Advanced Machine Skills Course is a free, full day course held at Wethersfield Airfield.  The focus of the course is all about machine control - slow speed handling; positive steering; merging exercises; swerving skills; emergency avoidance techniques and advanced braking skills.

Each of the skills elements is covered in depth with highly experienced instructors, with plenty of opportunity for participants to practice before moving on to the next element, building skill levels as the day progresses.

These courses are all about sharpening some fundamental machine control skills which are essential to us as riders but unfortunately are rarely practiced. These skills will help improve riding on the road and help reduce the chances of a collision.

The course is for everyone, no matter what you ride, however long you’ve been riding, whatever your experience.

You can book a place on a FireBike Better Biking Course by emailing firebike@essex-fire.gov.uk and providing your full name; address, bike make, model and registration number, contact phone number and email address.

Essex Hugger Advanced Instructor Training Days

These Advanced Instructor days subsidised by the Safer Essex Roads Partnership, and are offered to riders who have undertaken an Essex FireBike Better Biking Course and/or an Essex Police Bikesafe workshop.

This full day of training builds on the riding advice and guidance provided by the FireBike or Police Bikesafe teams, and is delivered on a 2:1 student to instructor ratio using radio communications.

These training days are specifically designed to provide more in-depth instruction and to improve general roadcraft skills.

Details of how you can undertake one of these advanced instructor training days will be provided when you attend a FireBike Better Biking Course or Police Bikesafe workshop.  The days cost £50 to attend, and the Safer Essex Roads Partnership subsidises a further £90 towards the cost of the training.