Streetwise - or just unwise?

2012-03-30 13:33

Earlier this week I saw the daftest thing I’ve seen on our roads for quite some time. In the busiest part of Rondebosch, a leafy suburb in the Mother City, a car was towing a scooter and its rider – presumably because the scoot had broken down.

What shocked me was that the tow-rope had been wrapped around the bike's handlebars so any sudden change of direction by the towing car, or if the bike’s back wheel was to inexplicably lock up, the guy on the scooter would have been dragged down the road kicking and screaming.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s fine to be towed should your bike break down, but have the sense to hold the rope with a gloved hand so you can quickly let go if there’s an emergency and thus steer/brake away from danger – on no account must a tow-rope ever be firmly attached to the bike!


While on the subject of biking safety – especially remembering the huge downpour experienced in the Mother City this past couple of days – an email this week from the BMW Motorcycle Club guys had even more significance, (and I paraphrase) “…after a recent incident where several motorcycle tyres were incorrectly fitted by a dealer, we advise you to check that your tyres have been mounted properly on your motorcycle. Similar incidents have been reported in the past from other service providers, it seems.

“The issue: the tyre tread is designed for a certain direction of rotation. An arrow on the sidewall points in the direction the wheel turns while riding. If mounted the wrong way around, the tread does not push water/sand away from the wheel and can cause loss of traction.

“Please just check that the arrow on your tyres is pointing the right way. Yes, even if you paid hundreds of thousands of rand for your bike, and you are not mechanically-minded, and you pay for peace of mind - the fact is that very little of all that money goes to the mechanic who changed your tyre. He’s just doing a job, he isn't the one who will end up in hospital.”


Again, on the question of rider safety and writing up this column for Wheels24, I came across an article from the American Motorcycle Safety Foundation that clearly asked the question: “Should You Ride A Motorcycle? and I found the 10 quick tips quite interesting – as you, the reader might.

Tip 1 suggests (space constraints suggest I won’t reprint all of them in today’s column) Are you a higher risk-taker than others you know? If you tend to need a thrill while driving a car and have aggressive or risky tendencies (following too closely, turning without signalling, talking on a cellphone, getting angry at other drivers, etc), motorcycling may not be for you.

While motorcycling improves the overall quality of life for many, for some it can lead to disaster. Thinking that accidents only happen to others is an attitude that will get you into trouble. Without even bothering to read the other nine tips of the article it seems the writer could have homing in exclusively on South African drivers!


If a newspaper report from this week is correct that traffic cops in the Mother City “only” managed to pull over and fine 19 drivers for just one of the above infringements (talking on a cellphone while driving) suggests to me the cops themselves must be totally blind!

• Maybe let me know your views on the subject – after you’ve checked out the above hyperlink, though!

  • jason.dutoit - 2012-04-02 09:57

    i enjoyed the link. it covers some important points. biking is great, but it is probably true that it is not for everyone.

  • Jim - 2012-04-03 00:05

    I have to share the sight I saw here in Liberia - motorcyclist riding down the road looking at the cellphone held in his left hand. Whether he was texting or dialling I don't know. (helmet laws are not widely enforced here)

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