'Deadly summer' for riders

The Kelowna District Safety Council has added advanced safety courses for experienced riders as a result of another deadly summer for motorcyclists in the province.

The Enhanced Safety Course for Experienced Riders is a one-day hands-on workshop Aug. 25, which provides experienced riders fresh perspectives and critical new safety skills, the safety council says.

KDSC instructor Bill Downey has been a rider himself for years and knows first hand the challenges riders face every time they get on their bikes.

“There are a lot of motorcyclists who think that because they have many years of riding experience, they’re riding safely, when in reality their learning – which should be an ongoing process – stopped after their first year," says Downey. 

He points out that last year motorcycle deaths rose 50 per cent. More importantly, 70 per cent of motorcyclist fatalities in the past decade have resulted from rider error or rider condition – far more than from errors by drivers of other vehicles.

Downey says stats show fatal motorcycle crashes occur disproportionately in the Southern Interior, and mainly in the Okanagan.

"This region averages 36 per cent of the motorcycle rider deaths in B.C., far out of proportion with the region's 16 per cent share of the provincial population," he says.

"We can predict the profile of future motorcycle fatalities in our region: 90 per cent will be men, half of whom will be between 40 and 60 years old, riding large displacement motorcycles. Almost all will be experienced riders who probably believe they already know all there is to know about riding. They will be riding recreationally. Very few will imagine that it could be their names in tomorrow's headlines.” 

KDSC's advanced courses feature workshops on advanced clutch control, shifting, counterbalancing, higher-speed braking, critical curve management strategies, steep hill control, safe and effective passing standards, and efficient highway riding.

Downey says "this is a package designed to advance riders' knowledge, skill, and confidence to ride the very challenging terrain and conditions of Western Canada, a technical rider's paradise."

“Many motorcyclists learned to ride on their own, with no formal instruction,” Downey observes. “Alarmingly, there are also far too many riders out there who have no proper licence to be on a motorcycle at all, and their crash rates are very high. All this needs to change if we are to reverse the trends in motorcycle injuries and deaths.”

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