Cape Town - This weekend sees the 15th annual Wheels Motorcycle Safety Campaign, an extraordinary grassroots road-safety initiative that has become both an institution and a role model for successful public/private partnerships.
And that’s because a decade and a half ago, the members of Cape Town’s Wheels Motorcycle club, appalled by the numbers of riders killed in crashes, took it upon themselves to stop playing the blame game and start making a change, however small.
It began literally at home, with older members of the club, riders with decades of experience in staying alive, mentoring younger bikers in real-world survival skills - skills all too often learned the hard way. But almost immediately it became more formal, with exercises learned from successful rider training programmes all over the world, insights into the requirements of the K53 licence test and what it can teach you, even basic motorcycle maintenance, such as checking tyre pressures.
There is no such thing as a bike tyre that doesn’t leak, and a motorcycle with under-pressure tyres becomes dangerously unstable.
From the beginning the club did not restrict its safety initiative to members, in an effort to reach as many riders, young and old, as they could – because as much as young riders need to learn how to survive on the roads, so older riders need to have a mirror held up to the bad habits we all pick up.
Today the Wheels initiative enjoys the support of the Western Cape government, Road Safety Management, Traffic Departments, Biker Basics motorcycle academy, bike shops and paramedic services. It helps wannabe riders with brand-new learners licences to learn what the K53 test is all about in terms of road safety and where it fails newbie riders in that respect.
Yet it’s also a refresher course in precautions about which we become increasingly sloppy as they become more intuitive. If this course does nothing more than remind you to look over your shoulder before changing lanes, it could save your life.
But there’s a lot more to it than that, with discussions of first aid, legalities and protective riding gear, was well as practical exercises in accident avoidance, emergency braking, ultra-accurate steering - even lane-splitting – all directly related to real-world riding, under the guidance of seasoned riders and traffic officers.
It’ll be held on Sunday 23 October at the Parow Traffic Department, Birch Close, Beaconvale. Registration opens at 8am, but pre-booking is essential, as there are only 60 places available. The cost is R100 per rider, and includes course notes, a badge and a T-shirt. For entry forms contact Fred Arendse on 082 210 2238 or Graham Jacobs on 083 650 2498.