Saturday, June 16, 2012

Nursery Rhymes

When I was learning to drive (ye gods, 20 years ago!) my driving instructor had a little "rhyme" that she taught me for merging / changing lanes:

  • Check Mirror
  • Indicate
  • Headcheck
  • Go!
I know it doesn't rhyme but it had a nice lilting tempo to it and clearly it's stuck in my head for more than 20 years... and anyone who knows me will realise what an achievement it is to get anything to stick in my memory!

So I've been thinking about motorcycle safety (shock, horror, I know!) particularly around educating drivers to always look for bikes, and I've been toying with the idea of little rhymes like this to get it set in the public consciousness.  For example:

Lane Changes
  • Check Mirror
  • Indicate
  • Look for Bikes
  • Go!
  • Look Left
  • Look Right
  • Look for Bikes
  • Go!
I wonder how many times someone needs to hear a simple phrasing like this before it sticks... especially if it is being said "at you" from a bumper sticker or poster rather than to you by an instructor.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Road Surface

Yup, I've been looking at YouTube clips of bikes on Mulholland Drive again :)

Watching this near-miss compilation, I noticed that almost half of the rear tyre slides happen just after a change in the road surface.  The road goes light-grey to dark-grey to light-grey again, and the tyres don't seem to like that at lean.

Take a look and see what you make of it.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Out here revisited

You might have seen my previous post about Queensland's Out Here campaign from 2010.  I was delighted to receive another email from their data analytics department this afternoon with some of the results from the campaign evaluation.In addition to statistics about motorist recognition of the campaign, they reported the following findings from the campaign evaluation (which was undertaken by independent market research):

  •  There was also very strong support for the campaign. 90 per cent of motorcyclists and 95 per cent of motorists thought that the campaign was a good way to get the message across. 
  • By comparison, motorists are reporting that they are checking their mirrors more often (65%) and giving motorcyclists more space on the road (59%). 

 The campaign also created high levels of behaviour change with:

  • Has prompted me to think about my behaviour and take on at least one of the key campaign messages when I ride, such as staying alert, keeping my distance, easing back, looking for the way out or staying visible (motorcyclists, 77%). 
  • Has provoked me to ride more safely (motorcyclists, 66%). 
  • Has prompted me to watch out for motorcycle riders (motorists, 71%). 
  • Has reminded me to look in the mirror more often before changing lanes or turning (65%). 
  • Has prompted me to give motorcycle riders more space on the road (59%). 

As previously noted, Queensland motorcycle fatalities (raw numbers) fell by almost 50% in 2009-2010 compared with 2008-2009.  This campaign appears to have been well received, and their fatal motorcycle accidents are reducing both in raw numbers and proportional terms.

Job well done Queensland.  Any of you guys want to come down here and work in Victoria?

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Survey Results - 4 Ads Comparison

In the survey, participants were asked to watch 4 motorcycle safety ads - the 2009 Reduce The Risks campaign, the 2010 No Place To Race ad, the 2010 Out Here ad, and the 2012 Motorcycle Reconstruction campaign.

Here are the graphs of some of the responses for the 4 ads:

Responses as to how well the ad engaged them in thinking about their riding behaviour -

Responses as to how informative or useful they found the ad -

Responses as to how trustworthy they considered the information in the ad - 

Though each of the ads was internally branded by the agency that produced them, the survey did not indicate to the participant which ads were TAC campaigns and which were from other states.  I have picked these three questions just as an overview of audience engagement, trust, and impact.  I think these graphs speak for themselves.

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Asking for it

I've been thinking a lot today about the attitude that riders "bring it on themselves" and that we're "asking for it" by virtue of choosing to ride a motorcycle.  And I'm quite mad about it.

We need to acknowledge as fact that sometimes people make mistakes, and that accidents will happen; and when they do happen, if you're riding a bike at the time, the chances are you will come off worse than if you were in a car.  We do need to acknowledge that.  But we do not need to accept it.

This may sound like a hair splitting distinction, but it's a really important point that a lot of non-riders I speak to don't seem to grasp.  In desperation I've reached for the only parallel I can think of - that abhorrent attitude that some men have historically espoused which places the blame for rape upon a girl who was dressed in revealing clothes.  And while we acknowledge that rape happens, and is an evil and abhorrent reality, we will I trust never become accepting of this.  We will never accept it as natural or inevitable.

But in conversations I have had with non-riders, some people have been quite happy to say that in the event of an collision with a car, the rider has brought their injuries upon themselves by choosing to ride a bike.

Now if people want to point and laugh at me when I arrive at work soaked to the skin, with fingers and lips turning blue from the cold, I am happy to accept that.  I choose to ride a motorbike in sub-zero temperatures and so the consequences of being subject to the vagaries of Melbourne's weather are mine to enjoy, or at least endure.

When we cross over into talking about the consequences of other people's decisions and mistakes being our fault, however, we've crossed a line that should not be crossed.  If we make it acceptable for people to harm others through their actions, and blame the victims for being in the way, then we've chosen to let people get away with whatever they can blame on someone else.  What we ought to be doing, as a society and a culture, is encouraging and requiring people to take responsibility for themselves and for their own decisions, and to encourage and require people to behave in a socially responsible way that doesn't impinge upon the freedoms and happiness of others.

I'm not really satisfied with these images yet.  I reckon I'm better with prose than with punchy posters and snappy single sentences.  But I'm going to keep pushing this line because it isn't right for us to roll over and accept that other road users simply won't look for bikes and we should just live with it.  While it is a reality that we must accept, we should never be content with it as the status quo, any more than we should accept that girls who wear short skirts are more likely to be the targets of sexual harassment.  Some realities are worth fighting against.

13 seconds

When you talk to motorcyclists about road safety, often the first thing you hear is a complaint about bloody drivers.  I have always tried not to be like that, because other drivers are beyond my control, and so for me safety starts and ends with what I am able to control and influence.

That's still true, but the time has come for a determined push to influence driver behaviour.

I know I don't really have much of a sphere of influence, but I'd really like this video to go viral and get this on the national agenda.  If you can help, please do.