(sigh) MORE Snow!

December 16, 2010

Yep, the little white fluffy things are falling out of the sky as I type! 😦

Hopefully it’s too wet out there for them to settle at the moment but, and it’s a big BUT, we are supposed to be having below zero temperatures tonight which means not only will we have icy conditions to deal with first thing, the snow shower which is forecast for 6am will probably settle on top of ice 😦

We’ve been VERY lucky here in Oxfordshire as far as snow goes up until now, but things look like they could be taking a definate turn for the worse on Saturday!  This could make the Christmas shopping I’ve got planned a bit interesting 😉

No doubt people will all be affected by the snow again, work days will be lost, roads will be blocked, cars will be abandoned, and we will once again descend into chaos.  People will start to complain about roads not being cleared and will point fingers at those who’s job it is, the councils and the Government, just like they did a few weeks ago.. Which I’ll readily admit, makes me laugh 🙂

I probably shouldn’t say this (but it’s my blog and I can say what I want!!) but how dumb are some of the people who complain?  I get the part about how councils should try to keep the roads clear but for goodness sake, the snow ploughs and gritters are driven by people!!! They’re not automated machines!! What the hell are the councils supposed to do if the gritter and snow plough drivers themselves can’t get to work?  Magic some out of thin air? It’s not like you can just get ‘anyone’ to drive one of the lorries, they need an HGV licence which the majority people don’t have.  Also it’s been so cold in parts of Scotland that the road salt isn’t melting the ice as the temperature is too low, and the snow plough blades are being broken by the ice.  I’d love to know how people think this should be dealt with, maybe the complainers should get their thinking caps on and come up with a solution for the benefit of us all instead of sitting there whinging.

My other gripe with people and the snow is that, inspite of the severe weather warnings saying “Don’t drive unless it’s an emergency”, people will still try and then complain like hell that it takes them 6 hours to get anywhere.  The dumbest example of this in the recent snow were the drivers, in some parts of the country, who tried to drive even though they had been told THE ROADS WERE CLOSED!!! Come on, how dumb can you be?  Talk about asking for trouble!

No doubt we will see more of this over the coming days on the news reports and I, for one, will sit and wonder about the intelligence of some people!


New Motorcycle Test Under Fire After Series Of Accidents

May 27, 2009

Motorcycle L-Plate The government and the DSA is under increasing pressure to rethink the new motorcycle test after a series of accidents in it’s first few weeks.

On the very first day one young man, in South Yorkshire, suffered a broken arm after crashing while trying to slow in the wet immediately following the new ‘swerve’ manoeuvre, and since then 14 more accidents have been reported.  There was one additional, as yet unreported, accident yesterday when a young lady training at my old bike school also fell off doing the same manoeuvre.  Luckily she was not hurt but was shaken up and bruised.

Instructors, and bikers who have emailed the BBC, have said that trying to perform such a manoeuvre at 31.2 mph (50 kph), while possibly suffering from test nerves, is dangerous, especially when performed on a wet surface.

While the test would probably be fine when done in the dry, new riders who may be tempted to brake and swerve at the same time are likely to come a cropper when trying to do this in the wet.  Bikers are taught very early on in their training that braking when not going in a straight line is a BAD thing to do, and even though the trainees taking their tests are undoubtedly taught the same thing, test nerves may be getting the better of them.

Dexterity Motorcycle Training in Kent tried the test out two years before it was implemented and had this to say about the swerve manoeuvre

The swerve/avoidance test – just simply getting up to the required speed (as on my first run) will catch some out, others will swerve and brake too soon and too hard simultaneously with the front brake and bin it.

Somewhat prophetic words I think, considering what is happening on the tests now.

Jeff Stone of the British Motorcycle Federation had this to say

“There is no real argument with the actual test, but the DSA really do have to take note of ‘real world’ conditions.

“A brake and swerve manoeuvre on a wet road is fraught with danger for even an experienced motorcyclist, so there needs to be a safer option for inclement weather conditions.”

and Paul Turner of the Motorcycle Action Group added

“We don’t mind improvements in the test which will make for better riders, but putting people at risk during the test is ludicrous.”

Expecting novice riders to perform the manoeuvre at the same speed whether it is sunny or chucking it down is going against the instruction we are given as learner riders.  All riders are taught to ride according to the prevailing conditions, something which helps us to stay as safe as we can out on the roads.  We are taught to slow down in the wet, and increase stopping distances, but the DSA is overturning the training and asking new riders to hammer it coming out of a bend towards the swerve part of the test!

Phil Woolley, 28, of Liverpool, tells how he failed the test after completing the swerve slightly below the required speed.  He reckons the size of the test centre makes it difficult to get up to 50 kph without accelerating unsafely.  He says

“Do it at a controlled speed and you will almost certainly fail,” he said. “Or you just floor it as hard as you can and there is a good chance you will pass, but also a risk you will come off.”

Boy, am I glad I passed my test in February 2008, before the new test came into force.  I wouldn’t want to be tackling the new test.

Original Story


Great Start To The New Motorcycle Test

April 30, 2009

Motorcycle L-Plate The new ‘Super Test Centre’ at Rotherham, South Yorkshire, has come under fire this morning after the first candidate crashed his bike and broke his arm!

The DSA’s new centre opened for motorcycle tests on Monday for the new part one of the motorcycle test which must be taken off road due to that fact that some of the manoeuvres have to be done at 31mph.

Concerns are being voiced up and down the country by riding instructors after finding out that the test moves HAVE to be carried out at the same speed and over the same distances, whether it’s a nice sunny day or chucking it down with rain!  Instructors have been told that the surface is fitted with a super sticky compound which makes it safe in all weathers.

John Atkin, spokesman for the DSA, has said of the test centres:

“The areas used for the motorcycle manoeuvres have been tested thoroughly in both wet and dry conditions and provide a safe environment for the candidate. Tests have continued successfully at Rotherham since this happened.

I personally would like to know who is actually testing these centres.  Is it experienced riders who may very well be able to cope with doing these kinds of exercises, or is it novice riders who have recently learned to ride a bike? It would be interesting to find out.

The instructor who trained the man who was injured said the following

“Adam did his swerve manoeuvres and put his brakes on so he could stop in the required distance.
“But the back end of the bike swerved round and threw him off, leaving him with a very nasty break to his arm which needs surgery.
“All the instructors around here agree this is a joke. It’s common sense that you wouldn’t ride the same in the wet. They’ve just thrown common sense out of the window.

On the same day at the same centre, another young man fell from his bike, and was uninjured, and a girl failed the test, in the pouring rain, for being 1kph too slow.

I don’t know about the rest of you,  but if it’s raining I slow down on my bike and yet the DSA is expecting new riders to carry out manoeuvres at the same speed as you would in the dry!  It just doesn’t seem right.  Plus, if you think about this, new riders will be suffering from ‘test nerves’, I know I was when I took my test and this may well be a contributing factor.

I really feel for anyone looking at taking their test now, it can be done but it not an experience I would want to go through.  I’m just glad I passed my test before this was bought into effect!

Full Story


Motorcycle Groups Warning Of Test Chaos

April 4, 2009

Motorcycle L-Plate The new motorcycle test comes into effect at the end of this month, and motorcycle groups are warning that the system is not sufficiently geared up to avoid chaos.

The DSA’s decision to make the test available at just 66 centres nationwide, instead of the previous 260+, will make it more difficult to get a test booked, and that’s before any of these new riders actually faces the ride to get to one of the new ‘test super centres’.

As things stand at the moment most tests are booked as part of a package offered by training schools, courses such as the DAS (Direct Access) course and availability has always been pretty good.  But after the introduction of the new test a greater number of training establishments will be sharing the new test centres, which will result in many fewer bookings for each riding school.

Many riding schools must now be doubting how secure their futures are when taking the the current status of the new test centres into account.  Some are reporting that the numbers of learners they may be able to book in for tests may be reduced by half.  How long are riding schools going to be able to continue with that kind of a drop in the revenue?

Plus, if take into consideration the increases in fees imposed by the DSA in recent months you will begin to wonder how many people will actually look at taking their bike test now.  Additionally fees for taking riding courses will no doubt go up as schools have to cover the costs of getting learner riders to the test centres.  Some new riders, already nervous at the prospect of thaking their test ,may face a journey of 45 minutes or more just to get to their test centre.

The implementation of the new test was delayed by 6 months last September as only 38 of the 66 new test centres was ready for business.  Since last September just 6 new ones have been added and the remaining 22 areas have only temporary or weekend only test centres.  All of my local riding schools now face sharing a test centre which is only open on Tuesdays!!! It’s a joke!

Considering the new test was implemented to increase rider safety, there are fears that a growing number of riders will be put off going the new test route and will just take to the road without a licence.

Well done DSA.. A gold medal is coming your way.. for making a right ba**s up of this!

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