British youngsters are brainwashed from an early age into thinking bikes and scooters are virtual death traps and it's only a matter of time before we wipe ourselves out.
How many times have you heard a non-rider state 'I'd kill myself on one of those'? It’s a phrase we hear all too often. Look to the rest of Europe though and the whole family uses a scooter, often all at the same time... even the family dog sits on the floorboards! Kids are brought up knowing just how much fun can be had on two wheels and they also learn not to crash if at all possible, warmer climates means wearing 'protective' shorts and flip flops is the norm but it isn't the best clobber to ride or crash in. Help to pacify an anxious parent by wearing decent kit; suitable for the type of machine you’re riding. Textiles are fine for a scooter and can be worn year round.
Statistically horse riding is around 20 times more dangerous than riding a bike. Football injuries are also very common and despite having surrounded myself with scooter and bike riding friends for over 25 years I actually know more people who have broken a leg having a kick around on a Sunday than I do from crashing a bike.
So the next time a parent, friend or partner tries to discourage you from getting your first moped, or a bike don't be put off or persuaded that it's a bad idea. Aside from freedom, and independence you'll also be gaining some valuable road knowledge and will quickly learn how to adapt your riding to keep yourself safe. You’ll also realise that riding is the most rewarding mode of transport, it makes you feel alive, opens doors to adventure, excitement, travel and friendship.
Ride to survive
Defensive riding, awareness and planning are all very important skills to hone if you're going to prove those doom mongers that you're not riding off to your impending death. Learn about road positioning; make yourself more visible by good riding techniques. Feeling and looking confident rather than being forced into the gutter will help other road users to realise you won't be bullied.
Be aware of what's happening around you. Don't just focus on the road ahead; use any clues to help you predict what other road users are going to do. Being one step ahead will keep you safe; don't wait for their mistakes to happen. Adjust your riding to avoid a problem before it affects you. After all you are the one who will come off worse if things go wrong.
You may have done a CBT, or maybe your full test but that doesn't stop you learning. Read up on advanced riding skills, maybe do a Bike Safe course or a ROSPA/IAM advanced test if you're more experienced. It’s not geeky and you don’t have to wear High-Viz to ride well, riding well doesn’t necessarily mean riding slowly either. A competent rider will be smooth, safe and fast if needed.
The old adage 'I'll kill myself on one of those' doesn't have to be true, keep yourself safe, learn to ride well and you'll enjoy a long and very happy life on two wheels. You really can’t beat it.