Word has reached bg from our Island correspondent that the natives are getting understandably restless about the needless carnage arising from the annual invasion of bikers during TT week.
We’re not talking about race related incidents. Leaving them out of the equation, how many recorded accidents involving motorcycles took place during the festival? The answer: a staggering 92, with four fatalities and around thirty people injured who required hospital treatment.
This is the dark flip side of the TT’s increase in popularity. We know of bike loving Manx residents who take a holiday elsewhere during the TT festival in order to avoid the chaos, so we can well imagine what those residents indifferent to two wheels think about the situation.
Meanwhile, on the mainland, the arrival of warm weather last weekend (25th and 26th July) was predictably accompanied by an increase in motorcycle related fatalities. What we all have to understand is this. As far as politicians are concerned, especially those in Brussels, it doesn’t matter who is to blame. The consistent involvement of bikes in serious accidents is enough to get safety campaigners geed up, and we can understand why.
We don’t help ourselves. We have to acknowledge that bikes are involved in a disproportionate amount of Single Vehicle Only (SVO) accidents, and that as bikers, it is up to us to anticipate error on the part of other road users, since we will always be physically more vulnerable. We need to get real.
One credible theory is that all road users have had individual responsibility diminished by the state: think of the restrictions, the forests of road signage, the mass of legislation. ( The Shared Space campaign has attempted to remedy this situation with some success, but relatively poor uptake by local authorities.) So when some bikers end up en masse somewhere like the IOM, they literally can’t handle the relative freedom on offer. Combine this state of mind with road race fantasies promoted so assiduously the TT organisers, and you end up with carnage.
The irony is that accidents encourage restrictions and make the implementation of Shared Space initiatives less likely, when in a sane world it would be the other way round. Meanwhile there is nothing to stop us facing up to our collective responsibility and thinking long and hard about the meaning of safe speed…..