Police officers are changing up a gear to break down barriers and engage with bikers to get their vital road safety message across.
There have been over 30 collisions involving motorcycles this year in the Central Scotland force area where riders have been seriously injured - one incident back in April on the A904 Grangemouth Road in Bo’ness resulted in the death of 34-year-old local man Shaun McKeown.
In an effort to reduce these figures, officers from Central Scotland Police’s Road Policing Unit have been working hard on Operation Drayton from April to September - the acknowledged “motorcycling season” for riders across the country.
Road Policing Inspector David McKenzie said: “Over the last 10 years we have successfully reduced the number of road accidents in our area, but the number of motorcycle accidents where someone has been seriously injured has actually increased.”
The figures speak for themselves - from January to July this year, 40 per cent of all incidents where there has been a death or serious injury have involved a motorcycle. There have been a total of 292 motorcycle-related collisions involving deaths or serious injuries from 2002 to 2012 - that’s 20 per cent of all road incidents involving death or serious injuries.
The majority of those incidents involved riders in the 36 to 45 age range.
Inspector McKenzie said: “A good proportion of those incidents can be attributed to the motorcyclist travelling too fast for the road conditions and being unable to manage corners.
“Motorcycles by design are capable of high speeds and motorcyclists who have not being riding for a while and who have recently come back to it will notice the increase in performance of today’s bikes.
“We want them to ride safely within their limitations and ride according to the rules and conditions of the road. Motorcyclists are more vulnerable to injury than someone driving a car. The only protection a motorcyclist has is their helmet and what they are wearing.”
The team, which features 10 motorcyclists, is involved in high visibility patrols during motorcycle season.
Inspector McKenzie said: “We patrol at the weekend, talking to motorcyclists having a break at various popular stopping points. We want to break down barriers and speak to them about safety, giving them advice.
“Overall the message we’re trying to get across here is we want people to come and enjoy our roads, but we are still having these collisions and this is something we have to address.”
As well as the ongoing Operation Drayton, officers are involved in two further initiatives - Around the Corner and Bike Safe - which also aim to reduce motorcycle collisions.
Inspector McKenzie said: “Around the Corner gives people information about good motorcycling routes. They specifically highlight the positive side of the routes, like the great scenery, but also flag up the potential dangers.
“Bike Safe is a two-part programme where people learn safety in the classroom then go out and put it into practice in a one-to-one ride with an instructor, then receive feedback on how well they did.”
Visit www.bikesafe.co.uk or www.aroundthecorner.org.uk for information.