London boroughs target businesses to reduce biker casualties

11.19 | 28 October 2011 | | 11 comments

18 London boroughs have launched a new campaign targeting employers in a bid to reduce motorcycle and moped casualties, many of which occur during morning and evening rush hours.
The campaign – part of RightGear London – points to figures showing that of the 4,337 recorded collisions that resulted in rider death or injury in 2010, 81% occurred on weekdays, many at times when riders are traveling to and from work.
Employers signing up to support the campaign will receive free marketing information and support material, including posters and a quarterly ‘Roadzine’ for distribution among their employees. The campaign resources feature a striking naked rider image to drive home the vulnerability of riders who don’t wear the right gear.
Steve Gollop from Quest, one of the employers backing the campaign, said: "We support this campaign because the effects of an accident can last a lifetime. Putting on appropriate safety clothing takes a few minutes. Think of the risks and wear the right gear.
 “While motorcycles and mopeds are a great way to beat the traffic and congestion, they are potentially dangerous too. It is important that everyone understands the safety considerations and is adequately prepared to ride these vehicles.
“Employer’s would be providing their employees with a great service by ensuring they have access to the correct information and therefore not lose employee hours through rider injuries."
The new campaign builds on the RightGear London initiative which was launched in 2006. For more information visit or call 0131 668 1880.


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    I agree the conspicuity of a large, relatively slow, horse and rider combination and a faster smaller motoryclist differ greatly but still feel that high visibility clothing has a large part to play in reducing the risk of motorcyclists being invloved in collisions.

    I refer you to the results and conclusions of the BMJ Paper ‘Motorcycle rider conspicuity and crash related injury: case-control study’ [ BMJ 2004;328:857] which concludes “Low conspicuity may increase the risk of motorcycle crash related injury. Increasing the use of reflective or fluorescent clothing, white or light coloured helmets, and daytime headlights are simple, cheap interventions that could considerably reduce motorcycle crash related injury and death.”

    The results of the study are included below.

    “Crash related injuries occurred mainly in urban zones with 50 km/h speed limit (66%), during the day (63%), and in fine weather (72%). After adjustment for potential confounders, drivers wearing any reflective or fluorescent clothing had a 37% lower risk (multivariate odds ratio 0.63, 95% confidence interval 0.42 to 0.94) than other drivers. Compared with wearing a black helmet, use of a white helmet was associated with a 24% lower risk (multivariate odds ratio 0.76, 0.57 to 0.99). Self reported light coloured helmet versus dark coloured helmet was associated with a 19% lower risk. Three quarters of motorcycle riders had their headlight turned on during the day, and this was associated with a 27% lower risk (multivariate odds ratio 0.73, 0.53 to 1.00). No association occurred between risk and the frontal colour of drivers’ clothing or motorcycle. If these odds ratios are unconfounded, the population attributable risks are 33% for wearing no reflective or fluorescent clothing, 18% for a non-white helmet, 11% for a dark coloured helmet, and 7% for no daytime headlight operation.”

    Mark, London
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    Hi Roy, good job this is a forum that allows debate. There is a saying that it’s not over until the fat lady sings. so here I am giving my support, I am a Roy supporter.

    First let me say that I am a lay person, no particular specialisation in anything but here goes. I have not as yet read all the material concerning this article but will confine my words to those in response to Susan’s comments re hi-vis and horses, okay.

    I have no argument with her in regard to the safety [possibly increased] as a result of wearing hi-vis. However, in support of this arguement concerning TWV it is flawed on several counts.

    First, how large is a horse and rider some 8/9 ft and how wide is a horse? Now compare that with a kid on a scooter. Big, I mean BIG, size difference – especially with both horse and rider wearing some hi-vis. Don’t u think?

    Second, a horse has one horse power and a motorcycle sometimes over 100 HP. But lets say its a learner and the bike has something like 11 HP. The point I am making is that the horse has a speed of say 5 mph and the TWV travels at 30mph. Another big difference, particularly in a close street situation.

    Susan makes the point that there is up to a further 3 seconds advantage in respect of time see. A horse in that time will travel about 15 ft however a TWV will at 30 mph travel some 40yrds or 135ft to be more accurate.

    Now equate that with a junction. If a horse is seen by a driver at the junction then some 3 seconds later that horse is only 15 ft closer and obviously in no danger.

    The TWV however has in that 3 seconds [if he has them] travelled a distance of 135 feet, unless of course the car driver has already pulled out and the TWV has collided with him.

    So in my opinion the arguement put forward by Susan is an erronious one. It’s like saying that a HGV has fewer accidents than a TWV, and we all know why that is.

    As regards hi-vis, why are the authorities concerned about all the accidents that their employees are having whilst repairing our roads? After all, they all wear hi-vis and there are plenty of warning signes and cones etc, but still they get run over. Maybe a SMIDGY. hey Roy.

    Come on Roy, maybe its 7 – 2 now.

    Bob Craven, Lancs
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    I am a football supporter. The score here seems to be 7-1. Thank God I’ve blown the final whistle.

    Roy Buchanan, Epsom
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    Riding High to Safety The Equine perspective on HiViz.

    I thought you should see this regarding British Horse Society’s findings re riders/horses wearing hi vizHi Viz.

    By wearing hi-viz equipment on both themselves and their horses, riders give motorists up to an extra three seconds of time to notice them and take appropriate action. To put this into context, in three seconds a car travelling at 30mph can cover 40 metres – the length of a dressage arena.

    The BHS completed a national survey in May this year with the intention of finding out the horse riding public’s opinions on hi-viz equipment. From over 11,000 respondents, 1,312 (around 12%) admitted that they did not wear hi-viz, making them less visible and more at risk on the roads than they need to be.

    Not only does this mean that motorists may have less time to avoid these riders, if they fall and are injured it also makes them harder for the emergency services to spot. Stressing the importance of wearing hi-viz not just on the road but also off, the BHS also highlights that as military helicopter pilots can see hi-viz riders up to half-a-mile sooner, they can therefore avoid flying directly overhead and spooking the horse

    As an added persuasion to wear hi-viz however, some insurance companies will offer better rates to riders who wear hi-viz clothing. It is advisable to check with your insurance provider what their minimum hi-viz requirements are, but usually this will amount to a tabard for the rider and leg bands on the horse. This is also the minimum level of protection recommended by the BHS.

    In the last ten years, awareness of hi-viz equipment and the choice of products available to the market has been growing. What is interesting is that over the last decade, the number of road traffic accidents involving horses reported to the BHS has dropped significantly despite the fact that the number of cars on the road is increasing – according to their figures, there were 269 incidents reported in 2000, compared to 60 in 2010. Whilst it is hard to say conclusively that this has been due, at least in part, to the increasing use of hi-viz, it is certainly likely to have been a factor.

    Insurance companies obviously believe that Hi viz helps keep road users safer or they would not give better rates for those wearing it.


    Susan Martin – Croydon
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    Thank you for your observations. We do recall you sharing these with all your road safety colleagues at Transport for London last year and remember there was no one else present who shared your strongly voiced sentiment that encouraging riders to wear protective and hi-vis clothing was inherently ‘flawed’

    The campaign has many strands to engage with riders/drivers / employers and we use different messages for each.

    For riders we highlight that wearing protective gloves, for example, may help if you come off your bike and instinctively put your hand down to protect yourself. Or wearing fabrics that don’t shred in seconds are useful. They don’t have to be the cumbersome variety you elude to…Kevlar do a great range of jeans which look like normal wear but help protect from the grater effect of travelling any length of time across the surface of a road without any protection.

    While not recorded in STATS 19, a discussion with the Met Police would evidence plenty of gruesome images of those who thought their civil liberties were more important that wearing the ‘right gear’.

    As you will know; travelling even at speeds as low as 30 miles an hour would take around 45 feet to actually stop. One girl who came off her bike had no bottom by the time she eventually came to a standstill . Sad, pretty painful and potentially wholly avoidable.

    In addition to outlining the kind of clothing worth considering, in the latest ‘Roadzine’ edition we talk about watching out for leaves on the road which, when mixed with water, can turn the road surface into an ice rink. Also about the benefits of bike maintenance so that your lamp doesn’t fail and you end up stranded somewhere or checking your tyre tread is sufficient to actually keep you upright. All useful information written by a rider FOR riders which they seem to appreciate – certainly judging by some of the many positive comments we’ve received from them.

    We also alert riders and drivers to issues such as ‘inattentional blindness’ and ‘motion camouflage’ and ‘size arrival effect’….they should know that failure to see is often the primary causation factor cited in collisions and that humans possess a physiological flaw that means they can look but not actually see you. They deserve to know that don’t you think? So they can ride with that knowledge and not make assumptions that when a driver looks at them it doesn’t mean they won’t still pull when they go past.

    Almost 400 major employers have signed up in support of this initiative and include some of the biggest in Greater London. The campaign messages will reach 511,411 employees – both riders AND drivers.

    We found that these employers were very keen to support this initiative. It doesn’t patronise their staff & helps them ride more safely. A mutual benefit wouldn’t you think?

    All those we spoke to really care about their employees and, whether they ride for work or commute (as 81% do), they’d rather keep them from avoidable harm if possible…they regard it not only as their duty of care but also as a decent thing to do. They are the enlightened ones and I really admire them for taking an interest. I know which employer I’d rather work for.

    There’s a great deal more I could talk about however no-one has all week to read this post so please feel free instead to visit our site and take ‘another look’ yourself. Please feel free to contact me directly if you require any further information.

    Jan Deans, Group MD, Dynamic Advertising Group
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    “Dressed for success!”

    In my mind a motorcyclist wearing the right gear is dressed for success in this case a successful journey.

    The beauty of this message is in its simplicity.

    Rome was not built in a day and I doubt zero PTW casualtie measures will be achieved any quicker?

    Gareth Tuffery , Surrey
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    It should be pointed out that the “Right Gear”, as described within this campaign, is not restricted to clothing that would protect a rider in the event of a collision but also recommends wearing high visibility clothing. Whilst I agree that the former would not reduce collision rates I believe that the latter does have the potential to reduce the risk of collisions.

    Given the fact that high visibility clothing is used in many industries and professions, from members of the emergency services to warehouse operatives, to reduce the risk of workers being injured in collisions I would suggest that I am not alone in holding this belief.

    Mark, London
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    You can get a decent set of fabric kit on over your work clothes in under a minute. There’s no excuse for not wearing appropriate kit. For the increasing number of people who are switching to two wheels to commute the best way to get information to them is through their employer and the work being done in London is a big step forward here.

    Good kit not only reduces the severity of injuries but keeps you warm, dry and comfortable helping to keep levels of concentration and machine control higher reducing the likelihood of being involved in a collision in the first place.

    Dave, Leeds
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    I agree entirely with Liz that initiatives that help reduce either numbers OR severity of motorcycle casualties is vitally important. Reducing the numbers is a priority for us all however we know that getting to zero numbers will take some time, and we have to deal with the seriously and slightly injured riders that happen on the way. One way to reduce the injuries is to wear the right clothing and other related equipment. I agree that simply wearing the right clothing may not prevent an incident but it will help to protect a rider from losing large amounts of skin. A lesson that I learned many years ago (when I thought I knew it all, and obviously didn’t). It is all part and parcel of developing a safety culture in riders.

    The main issue I have with the previous comment is the issue around employers. It is most definitely the employer’s business to pontificate about safety. Yes, every employer should be advising their employees on how to behave on the road, even if it is their own time. We have a duty to them. As a manager, I am very happy to tell my staff not to speed or jump red lights, (not that they would, I hope) and indeed I have a motorcyclist in my team who I have advised to wear the right clothing, ride at the right speed, and get further training (which he has done). I can’t afford to lose any staff and if any of them are on the sick, or worse, through having a road traffic accident, it is too late to say they should have done this or that.

    I applaud the efforts made by the London Group. You have an issue and you are trying to deal with it, even when you are struggling with staffing and budget issues. Well done.

    Alan Kennedy – Durham
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    I feel that any initiative that helps to reduce either numbers or severity of motorcycle casualties is vitally important. I admit I am a non rider, but am married to a rider, who is both a long term big bike rider and a London courier. The information I have been given by him and other motorcyclists in a professional capacity is that the right gear is important. Anyone who has suffered relatively low speed road rash injuries will agree! The injuries of a low speed crash may not be life threatening but will be painful and will require time off work to heal! Helmet, gloves, proper boots and decent protective clothing are as vital as a seat belt in a car. I’ve signed up for my borough and along with information for drivers to watch out for motorcyclists and cyclists at all times will continue to support any campaigns that I feel professionally will make a difference.

    Liz, london
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    I can recall that the RightGear London campaign was, in my view, flawed therefore I did not recommend it to my Authority. Wearing the “right gear” will not reduce collisions among PTWs so the campaign’s objective is inappropriate. However, it may reduce the severity of injuries but alternatively it may even increase the collision rate due to the risk-compensation syndrome.

    It needs to be made clear what is being disseminated in the “marketing information” and what is contained in the “support material”.

    From an employer’s perspective, Steve Gallop from Quest for example, they must be made aware of the implications of this campaign. It takes more than “a few moments” to put on protective clothing depending on what level of clothing is under consideration and, from my experience, few employers provide facilities for storing this equipment whilst the employee is at work. A hall stand in the corner of the office is inadequate because some motorcycle clothing is heavy, bulky and can drip water on the floor on a wet Monday morning. A waterproof motorcycle jacket or coat can usually be accommodated but fully armoured riding suits are a different matter.

    From the employee’s perspective, I agree that any rider can be told of the “safety considerations” and be “adequately prepared” but this is not exclusive to PTWs. It applies to any road vehicle including pedal cycles that Authorities are so keen to promote. What “correct information” will be given to employees wishing to travel to work by motorcycle? Will it be sound information from experienced riders, bland logic from academics or scare-mongering from non-riders who have an intrinsic fear of motorcycles? Additionally, what business is it of the employer to pontificate how an employee behaves whilst travelling to work in their own time? Would a manager feel comfortable telling his staff not to speed or jump red lights? Probably not, so why advise them about their clothing?

    What research has been done on which to base this campaign? Has an analysis been done in cities with high PTW usage, Paris and Rome for example?

    Roy Buchanan, Epsom
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