Cycle of safety
Tarik Kiddoe does not ride a motorcycle as often as he once did. Still, the Shango Bikers riding group he is a part of has provided Kiddoe with lessons in motorcycle safety in two ways the value of safe riding practices in saving a friend's life and the 17-strong group has also been a sounding board for the principles he passes on in the Back to Basics Motorcycle Safety Workshop he has started.
Kiddoe, whose first motorcycle was a Suzuki GSX!R bought in 2010, left a club one Thursday night with other riders, went home and heard in the morning that one of them, Nick Deane, had been hit head-on by a motorist driving on the wrong side of the road. The bike was in shreds but Deane, who had on protective gear, survived. Despite wearing the gloves that he would while riding competitively at Dover Raceway, Deane still suffered serious damage to his hands. However, Kiddoe can only imagine what would have happened if Deane had not been properly attired for riding a motorcycle.
It is a lesson he passes on Back to Basics workshop participants, where the emphasis is on reaching back home alive. Back to Basics is a progression on presentations at the Jamaica Road and Traffic Expo in 2014 and 2015, with what Kiddoe described as "the first true commercial workshop" done for 45 National Irrigation Commission employees last year.
Four hours out of each five-hour workshop are spent in a classroom setting, reflecting the intention of changing the motorcyclists' mindset. It can be challenging initially, Kiddoe recalling one workshop in which someone who had been riding for decades was especially resistant to the content. At the end, though, when the participants gave feedback, he was one of those who spoke about learning a lot from the workshop.
In addition to safety gear, the workshop covers risk awareness, learning to manoeuvre the motorcycle precisely, staying visible to avoid collisions with other vehicles, proper braking and strategies to be aware of and maintain a rider's personal safety limit.
That limit is, of course, subjective, and changes with conditions such as fatigue. For him, Kiddoe said, "I have to know when it is no longer comfortable, it is getting a bit intense and let go the ego and back off."
Part of visibility is the colour of the motorcycle (Kiddoe says he would never ride a black bike), keeping the headlight on and even the exhaust note loud may be annoying, but it alerts other road user to the motorcycle's presence. He said the majority of crashes between cars and bikes happen because the driver did not see the motorcycle.
Significant time and financial input is required to spread the impact of a workshop which Kiddoe said has had a 100 per cent survival rate on the streets among participants just like the Shango Riders. Still, he is committed. The Savanna-la-Mar workshop had the lowest turnout, but he will be returning in the first week of May.
"It is a mission," Kiddoe said.
Next week: Kiddoe speaks about the legislative and socioeconomic factors around Jamaica's motorcycle fatalities.