Frost takes bike safety to the bikers

Bikes, Quads & karts

There's more than a little truth in the old quote, “If Mahomet will not go to the mountain, the mountain must come to Mahomet”. And for David Frost, deputy director for road safety management in the Western Cape department of community safety, that means taking road safety out there - way out there.

Frost has been involved for many years with the Wheels Motorcycle Club's annual motorcycle safety campaign, but acknowledges that the campaign, although hugely successful, has at best a limited reach, as do all safe riding initiatives, because the people who would benefit most don't think they need them.

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Many mainstream bikers were surprised at how easy it was to be over the limit after what they thought was very moderate drinking.David Frost looks more like an outlaw biker than a senior government official.The department of community safety gazebo at the Dop and Chop Rally.

So, if mainstream bikers wouldn't come to road-safety initiatives, he reasoned, he would take the message to them.

Which is why the hundreds of hard-core bikers attending the weekend's annual Dop and Chop Rally at Kleinplasie in Worcester, hosted by the road captains of the Motorcyclists Association of the Western Cape, were taken aback to find a provincial government gazebo between a fast-food caravan and a stall selling biker jewellery.

And they were hard-core; camping out in the middle of an unusually cold and wet Cape winter is not for the faint of heart.

But Frost commands respect among riders with his worn black leathers, cool grey eyes and wickedly dry sense of humour. Outside the office (and, we suspect, sometimes in it) he looks more like an outlaw biker than a senior government official.

A dedicated rider, he knows about road safety from a personal perspective, having survived serious injuries sustained in an enormous tumble caused by a rear-wheel blowout on the national road.

The fact that he still rides the same Triumph Sprint RS speaks volumes.

Even more surprising, he wasn't there to talk, but to listen, asking riders to fill in a questionnaire giving details of their age, what they rode, how old their bike was, how often they'd crashed it and how serious their injuries were - and he says the picture those damp, grubby bits of paper paint will tell us, for the first time, just who bikers are.

Frost had also roped in a couple of traffic officers from the Breede River municipality, who put up with a lot of ribald comments when they hauled out their Alcometers. Although some of the bikers took pride in just how high a reading they could score - one young rider registered 10 times the legal limit and was still able to walk unaided - most were surprised at how easy it was to be over the limit after what they thought was very moderate drinking.

Ironically, one Motorcyclists Association official pointed out that they lose more riders on the adrenalin-charged rides to the rallies than on the ride home - no matter how hung over the riders are.

Frost, impressed by the response from the riders, insists that he's on a learning curve.

He says he will be at the next bikers' rally with a bigger 'office', better branding and more understanding of the attitudes he's trying to change.

By his dedication to making the roads we ride on safer for all of us, he has pulled together riders as diverse as the Motorcyclists Association and the management of the Killarney racing circuit, in what he intends will be a concerted programme of biker education.

So, if you come across a biker out there in a fluorescent jacket, riding Cape Town's only jade-green Triumph Sprint RS, show some respect. That's David Frost, walking the talk - or in his case, riding it.

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