accidents- when and where?

With so many people coming off lately, i was just wondering, whats general opinion on accidents?

is it seen as something thats inevitable as a biker, a case of when and where?

or something that need never happen if your careful enough ? can you ever be careful enough?

And replying to this is, of course, gonna put the mockers on for sure!!


I deal with accidents every day as part of my job (I pursue insurance claims for a living). I have found there are three simple rules to trying to avoid accidents:-

  1. Do not attempt to ride beyond the limits of your capabilites, rarely will there be any body (except maybe chuffster) whose bikes are not more capable then they are.

  2. Vigilence at all times, loads of observations all over, shoulder checks and mirror usage would avoid a lot of accidents, but in the same vein look where your going, its amazing how quickly the ABS can bring that wheeled wardrobe in front of you to a rapid halt.

  3. Expect every one around you to do something stupid or wrong, that way you can be pleasently surprised when it doesn’t happen, rather then shocked when it does.

And just for Toby use the force.


Talk to a bike cop, IAM instructor, etc and they will say most accidents can be avoided. Talk to the people that have been knocked off, and most will say that they couldn’t avoid it. This debate has been going on for a long time, and people who have been hit get quite upset when you tell them they could have avoided their accident.

Looking at my own incident last week when I got rear ended - if I had been more aware and checked my mirrors, I could probably have seen it coming. I’ll never know if I could have avoided it though?

For me, its a case of when and where. Then the important bit, am I going to be able to get up and keep going? Having had 6 offs in the last 12 months, I am getting used to it.

That’s on the track tho folks, don’t panic.

i was just gonna say chufster you must be cursed!

I am convinced it is not inevitable but depends on how you ride obv. If you ride to make progress commuting etc, then I feel it is a lottery to some extent. However - you know yourself when riding the accident inducing style and the safer style.

Not quite correct, the first two were on the road. Hit and run driver and black ice. And trust me, the road ones hurt more from experience so far.

ive allways knew i was gonna come off but how badly when and where!!!

Friday man - not sure there’s much you can do about being rear-ended (fnarr) TBH! Seeing the car coming is small consolation but whether you’d have time to do much about it is another matter.

Everyone else? I’m not gonna offer advice as I wasn’t there to witness the accidents we’ve had recently.

I will say that we are all pushing our luck to some extent. Same when we drive, pedal, walk etc etc… But I think we should all be striving to be the best rider you can be ALL THE TIME. I mean every single time you throw (or in Charly’s case ‘get’) your leg over. Whether it is a run to the shops, or a late night razz with yer mates, DO IT AS BEST YOU CAN.

If there are times when you didn’t feel 100% in control of the situation, not just the bike, slow down. Easy.

And personally, I think every rider should have at least the IAM level of competance. But hey, we all think we’re good and safe riders don’t we?

To quote our luckless example here :

“Believe me, I ride on the the mean streets of this city for about ten hours everyday, I know how to behave myself, and I spot dicy situations early on and hang back when appropriate. Today alone I had a few people pulling out in front of me, a few random u-turns / turns across my path, pedestrians walking out etc. and I was able to avoid / stop in all cases. It’s all about recognizing the environments where these might occur (busy high streets, etc.) and riding cautiously when you’re in them… at other times, you can let your hair down a little with no ill effect.” 19/07/06

I’ve not posted this to rub anything in to the still tender wounds, but to make the point that we do all ride around (and post - Charly) with the attitude that we are skilled enough to avoid accidents. Remember the police rider from last week?


My 2c is that most dangerous situations can be avoided through paying attention, quick reflexes, experience, training and a bit of forethought. Also being a courier I know dangerous areas (eg. busy high streets) where I have to expect hazards and ride more conservatively, and less dangerous areas where I can let my hair down a bit. When in doubt or in a “new” area err on the side of caution.

In a typical week dispatching there’ll be 5-10 situations (1-2 a day) where an accident could have happened if I wouldn’t have taken evasive action, squealed to a stop, or did something else to prevent something bad from happening, at lightning speed.

The types of dangerous situations that WILL result in accidents are the ones where you simply don’t have time to react. A car shoved in front of you .2 seconds from impact is pretty much inevitable. By the time you have noticed, and started taking evasive action you are already flying over it. Both of my offs happened like this.

You can scan, scan, scan for dangerous situations emerging to avoid them well ahead of time but like Charlie said the odds are stacked against you and one day you will miss something, or it will simply come up on you so fast there is nothing you can do buth brace, and pray.

Being bikers means that we get back on the horse and accept the risk – you wits and a bit of care will keep you safe 99% of the time but there is that 1% you can’t do nothing against. Somebody not seeing you, going without indicating, etc. creating a situation you can’t recover from because you simply don’t have time to react. In German we called it the “Restrisiko” – the bit of risk that is always left and that no amount of training, skill and experience can save you from. Just try to keep it as small as you can.

Even the most experienced police rider can get knocked off by an idiot not seeing him. This is a risk every one of us takes (hopefully conciously) everytime we swing our leg over our bike and push the starter button. You have to be crazy to some degree to accept it and all of us do or we wouldn’t be bikers. It’s also what makes the biker community as small, and as great to be a part of, as it is. If biking was totally safe every Tom Dick & Harry would be at it and owning a bike would be no different from owning a car… but I’m getting philosophical here now.

The bottom line is cover your ass as good as you can, keep your skills sharp, don’t take any stupid risks and beware of false confindence… and be aware that even then some [email protected] can “'ave you off the bike”, and still ride without being frozen up in fear (because that will make matters worse when it matters).

For my part, I’ve learned my lesson, I’ve paid (and will be paying) a substantial price, but it’s not enough to steer me away from biking. I f**king love being on a bike, and no amount of road rash is ever going to change that. OK, I’ll get off my soap box now

At the end of the day, it doesn’t matter how good a rider you are, if sum twat is going to come out of a side turning str8 into your path, your going to come off. I think on bikes most accidents are caused by other drivers, and i think the reason is cars are to comfy, its like sitting in your front room, they loose all road sense, i say do away with heaters radios dvd’s etc and get back to having a guy walk in front with a lamp

Like the red flag man idea C&S !!

Seems like there are those who have crashed and those who are going to. I don’t know anyone I ride with that hasn’t been down. The closest is one guy whose only fallen putting the bike on the trailer, hope that’s as close as he gets. We all ride as best we can but sometimes things happen and I think that’s what good riding gear is for.

I’ve been rear ended once at a set of lights, sitting there happily waiting for the lights to change on a long phase and some clown hits my back wheel shunting me and the bike forward about two bike lengths - no damage to the bike but a pulled ligament on my thumb as I held onto it for dear life !!

Had a right close one yesterday on Clapham High Street - idoit woman just simply didn’t see me, I was heading North in the middle of the lane dominating it, she was in the southbound lane and at the point I’m about 2 or 3 metres away, she turned right across my path (no signal, just pulled out of a queue of traffic). Instinct took over and I throttled it round the front of her car missing her by a matter of inches - didn’t even have time to think about it. Thought about it afterwards and I don’t think I would have been able to stop in time as it was so close. Lad behind me on a bike braked, he caught up with me and gave me a thumbs up, was more needing a new pair of boxers at that point !!

Was a right close one and dunno how I missed or why I didn’t reach for the anchors like I’ve done before.

Makes you really think.

Good list there Charly. Most weeks I do my job pretty well, although I sigh every day I get back home, and put the bike on the chain, and congratulate myself on surviving another day in Bagdda…erm, London.

That’s part of why I like this job, it’s a constant challenge. Most desk type jobs eventually bore me and I start **** out of boredom and/or quit. Couriering is different, and I feel I’m up to the task. Accidents do happen though, but I’m happy to take my chances.

The heat though… different story… my brain is fudge when it’s too hot and that’s not good when you’re relying on your wits to survive. This hot weather must be a contributing factor in many accidents. Sweat running into your eyes doesn’t help vision, either – if it happens in the wrong second you’re toast.

Yeah, here too. Hate to say it but my skin burns aren’t too bad. Look worse than they are. They are already scabbing. Of course it would be a different kettle of fish if I would’ve come off on the North Circular at 70mph but the odds of that are lower.

Most motorcycle crashes are low-speed offs (30mph ish) in built-up areas. Even if you are riding in a t-shirt, the amount of skin damage you’ll suffer will be painful, but nothing that will require skin grafts. Pop a few Nurofen and stick lotion on it and it’ll scab in a whiffy.

Then days of fun packed picking lie ahead. Mmmmm why don’t I ride in my T-Shirt more often…

Oh yes, 'cause I always get up to more than 30mph everytime I ride my bike