All in all, getting to work using public transport is stressful
I live in West London and work in the city as an Administrator. Like many office workers – since March I have worked from home. I am now anticipating what my company will ask me to do as we return to office working. My main concern is public transport. I am a car driver and have been driving for 30 years. I am mainly an urban driver and usually drive just for social purposes. Using public transport, my journey to work takes one hour. I feel constantly uneasy about using public transport. Wearing a mask is not pleasant and I find that my glasses are always steaming up. I am also forced to take an initial journey by bus and with this there is the inevitable stress of rush hour congestion. All in all, getting to work using public transport is stressful – even more so in these strange times.
Inspired by two good London friends who have commuted to work on Vespa mopeds for many years, I decided to take my Compulsory Basic Training (CBT), with a view to buying a second hand moped for my nine mile commute to work and other city riding.
A work colleague who rides a much more powerful motorbike told me about BikeSafe. I had been sharing my concerns about the challenges of city riding and specifically, not feeling ready or safe enough to brave my work commute. He strongly suggested that I should attend a London BikeSafe workshop. I am so glad that I listened to his advice.
I attended BikeSafe with the Metropolitan Police Service at their Bushey venue on the 6th September. It was good meeting with five other friendly riders and four equally friendly Police Motorcyclists who expertly delivered a first-class workshop for us.
As a novice rider, the workshop was invaluable and confidence building
When I first rode my moped the most obvious difference was feeling so exposed and vulnerable. On top of this there was a very steep learning curve with learning to handle being on two wheels. What I hoped to gain from attending my BikeSafe workshop was to feel less tense, to get more skilled and to become more confident in using my moped. I also wanted to understand how to become less hesitant and more assertive.
As a city-based car driver I am experienced, aware, and assertive. On a moped, without a seatbelt, I feel exposed and everything around me feels different. I wanted to start to enjoy the feeling of being on my bike and to leave my feelings of trepidation and nerves behind. I have to remind myself that I’ve only been riding for three weeks, but it does make me chuckle to think that if I were a Deliveroo rider, I would probably be fired as the pizza would likely arrive cold every time!
As a novice rider, the workshop was invaluable and confidence building, plus a great skills foundation to build on. I felt privileged having one-to-one tuition from Police Motorcyclist PC Gordon McKinlay, who was kind, patient and skilled at drawing my attention to important areas of rider development. I learned that I was being too harsh with the throttle and using my front brake too often. It is interesting that these things were never picked up during my CBT and I can now see how the BikeSafe motto of ‘Bridging the Gap to a more skilled ride’ is so fitting. CBT is just the start and without further training we are more at risk on the roads than we realise.
More relaxed, more skilled and with a clearer view regarding training
The observed ride was a massive help. I had about two and a half hours riding with PC McKinlay, with regular stops to discuss key points. He explained so clearly the way the machine works and how to get the best out of it. This really boosted my confidence. We talked about planning and all the areas I need to improve on. I learned to relax and not overthink things. I felt this happening during the time I spent on the road. I also felt extremely safe in the hands of the crème de la crème of motorcyclists!
Following on from BikeSafe, I am arranging training with a local DVSA Enhanced Rider Scheme (ERS) trainer with a view to learning more about filtering, overtaking and how to commute safely. I can now clearly see how vital it is to invest in ongoing training and not to rely solely on a one-day CBT.
I strongly recommend BikeSafe to ALL motorcyclists. Whilst we all ride for different reasons and have different training needs, BikeSafe offers excellent value for money and where else can you learn directly from Police Motorcyclists who are arguably amongst the most skilled riders in the world!
I cannot emphasise enough what a difference my BikeSafe day has made to me as a new rider. I left feeling more relaxed, more skilled and with a clearer view regarding the value of further training. Thank you all for the time and expertise that you shared. Here’s to everyone’s safety on two wheels!
Charlotte and Bianca (the Vespa Primavera)