Cape Town – It’s easy to look at Cape Town’s most successful public/private motorcycle road safety partnership and say, “This only works because of the level of involvement from the authorities,” and you couldn’t be more wrong.
Because it was the members of the Wheels Motorcycle Club who, 15 years ago, decided that the only way anybody was going to do something about the number of motorcyclists being killed on Cape Town’s roads each year was if they did it themselves.
And so they did, with nothing more than unofficial help from a few unsung heroes in the traffic department and later, small sponsorships from the trade. For the first few years they dug into their own pockets for essential funding, because they saw it was mostly younger riders who needed guidance in basic roadcraft; there’s a lot more to riding a motorcycle in an urban environment than operating the controls and knowing the official names of the traffic signs.
For years the annual Wheels Safety Campaign was treated by mainstream bikers as something between a joke and a jôl, but the club’s belief in what they were trying to achieve – saving lives, one rider at a time – eventually earned them respect from bikers and establishment alike, and brought this grass-roots initiative to where it is now.
Teaching survival skills
Which is at Gene Louw Traffic College in Brackenfell at 8am on Sunday 26 February, for the second leg of the 15th annual Wheels Safety Campaign, supported by the Western Cape Government, the Provincial traffic department, paramedics and the motorcycle trade.
It’s a no-nonsense look at motorcycle road safety in a real-world environment, one in which you cannot rely on the ‘other guy’ to have more road sense than you do, and at teaching riders the skills they need to survive.
That’s why it starts with a first-aid demonstration; it’s a sobering thought, but sooner or later, you or one of your riding buddies are going to crash or be knocked down, and you need to know what to do – and, more importantly, what not to do – until the paramedics arrive.
Then former traffic officer and now professional riding instructor Lloyd Castle will provide insight into why doing what comes naturally in an emergency is usually wrong. Often the correct action is counterintuitive, and needs to be practised – not just at riding schools but also on quiet Sunday afternoons in your local supermarket’s parking area, especially in spring after you haven’t ridden for a few months.
Practice makes perfect
Finally, a senior traffic official takes you into the black art of traffic control. The only things you can control when you are riding your motorcycle are speed and direction; everything else is out of your hands. It is how you place yourself in the traffic by judging speed and direction that will keep you alive – or not.
And the rest of the day is spent out on the training area of the college practicing - on your own motorcycle - emergency lane changes, lane-splitting, accurate steering on long corners and effective emergency braking, while younger riders learn the intricacies of the K53 riding test, under the watchful eyes of senior traffic officials and seasoned riders.
It’s hard work and it’s tiring but, no matter how long you’ve been riding, you will learn something new that could save your life one day.
Entry is R100 per rider and entries are limited to 60, so pre-booking is essential; contact Fred Arendse on 082 210 2238 or Grahams Jacobs on 083 650 2498 for entry forms.