Major vs. marginal gains in safety

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Major vs. marginal gains in safety

Post by Hot_Air »

Talk to me about what riding approaches, skills or safety gear make a significant difference to safety, compared to marginal gains.

Cornering, overtaking and above all SMIDSYs seem to be where many crashes occur. Perhaps yellow headlights or using the Z-line could be significant safety gains because reducing SMIDSYs matters a lot. Or would they merely be marginal gains because there isn't enough evidence to support them?

How about riding clobber? Wearing gear that's highly abrasion resistant and armoured looks like a significant safety gain, given Liz de Rome's finding that: "Motorcycle protective clothing is associated with reduced risk and severity of crash-related injury and hospitalization, particularly when fitted with body armour." However, upgrading from CE Level 1 to Level 2 armour might merely be a marginal gain.

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Re: Major vs. marginal gains in safety

Post by Horse »

There is one very simple and easy way to practically eliminate your chances of being killed or injured whilst riding a motorcycle. However, few riders will take the necessary action. It is, of course: giving up riding ;)

Let's be honest, holding onto a high-speed, unstable, often hated or - worse still - ignored, contraption can hardly be described as 'sensible'.

Use the well-known risk hierarchy of ERIC-PD

Eliminate
Reduce
Isolate
Control

They're the main ones to enact. PPE is low down the list, almost an admission of failure ;)

Oddly, though, the D is for Discipline. It could be argued that self-discipline is (in the berserk world of biking) actually of critical importance.

So, is 'safety' about marginal gains? In the sports world it's a principle credited with success, being implemented in wide-ranging ways (like hygiene, so you don't pick up infections and lose training time).

Part of the challenge with implementing anything 'safety'-related (anywhere) is that incidents (I'm happy to use 'accidents, some are not) are few and far between, to see real comparisons you either need properly controlled trials (probably ethically dubious at best) or huge data sets analysed carefully.

I can only tell you what worked for me and where it failed. In no particular order.

ABS I had crashes due to braking. But I still often ride without it.
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Re: Major vs. marginal gains in safety

Post by Hot_Air »

Horse wrote: Thu Apr 02, 2020 10:34 am I can only tell you what worked for me and where it failed ... ABS I had crashes due to braking.
I wonder about ABS because it's one of the oft-cited examples of risk compensation.
Wikipedia wrote:In a Munich study, part of a fleet of taxicabs were equipped with anti-lock brakes (ABS), while the remainder had conventional brake systems. In other respects, the two types of cars were identical. The crash rates, studied over three years, were a little higher for the cabs with ABS. Wilde concluded that drivers of ABS-equipped cabs took more risks, assuming that ABS would take care of them; non-ABS drivers were said to drive more carefully since they could not rely on ABS in a dangerous situation.
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Re: Major vs. marginal gains in safety

Post by Horse »

Hot_Air wrote: Thu Apr 16, 2020 3:12 pm
Horse wrote: Thu Apr 02, 2020 10:34 am I can only tell you what worked for me and where it failed ... ABS I had crashes due to braking.
I wonder about ABS because it's one of the oft-cited examples of risk compensation.
Wikipedia wrote:In a Munich study, part of a fleet of taxicabs were equipped with anti-lock brakes (ABS), while the remainder had conventional brake systems. In other respects, the two types of cars were identical. The crash rates, studied over three years, were a little higher for the cabs with ABS. Wilde concluded that drivers of ABS-equipped cabs took more risks, assuming that ABS would take care of them; non-ABS drivers were said to drive more carefully since they could not rely on ABS in a dangerous situation.
No link or quote, but the story goes that after BMW introduced ABS across the range, they supplied fewer replacement fairing panels.

Bikes are, of course, quite different to cars in terms of stability with wheels locked. As much as it's possible to practice and demonstrate front wheel lock-ups, I don't think it's anything that anyone would recommend during normal (ie emergency or any other) braking. On the road you can't accurately predict the amount of grip that you might have, let alone always be able to get to threshold - especially when under mental stress of an immediate life-threatening situation.

That said, not long after BMW introduced ABS as an option, I heard someone saying about his ride "I had the ABS cutting in all the time". Ok, that was first generation which was (to say the least ) a bit clunky. But getting it working all the time on a dry warm day? Poor braking.

I heard a car racing driver say that competing in a particular series where driver aids were permitted had an adverse effect on his driving. But for us mere mortals ...
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Re: Major vs. marginal gains in safety

Post by The Spin Doctor »

The reason I demonstrate front wheel lock ups is to show that it's possible to recover from one IF the bike is upright... it's more about ensuring we brake hard in a straight line and getting confident enough to know roughly where the limit is. Most riders never get past 60% of the available brake force yet they think they're on the limit...
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Re: Major vs. marginal gains in safety

Post by Horse »

The Spin Doctor wrote: Thu Apr 16, 2020 10:36 pm The reason I demonstrate front wheel lock ups is to show that it's possible to recover from one IF the bike is upright... it's more about ensuring we brake hard in a straight line and getting confident enough to know roughly where the limit is. Most riders never get past 60% of the available brake force yet they think they're on the limit...
Although . . . just to be awkward . . . :)

One of the things that it's worth training yourself to do is release the brakes, then reapply. Many people will 'grab/stamp' rather than apply smoothly, then increase pressure. Having that expectation and 'release, reapply' practice might help overcome situations where grab-lock occurs, rather than having to think "Oh dear whoops, it's skidding, now what should I do . . . ?"

Along with keeping head and eyes up, to maintain visual directional control as my MSF colleagues would say :) We found that if you asked riders to stop alongside you, they would often (usually) look at you as they came to a halt - and topple to that side. So the training was to keep looking forwards until stopped, but use peripheral vision to judge location.
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Re: Major vs. marginal gains in safety

Post by Rockburner »

Horse wrote: Thu Apr 16, 2020 7:55 pm Bikes are, of course, quite different to cars in terms of stability with wheels locked. As much as it's possible to practice and demonstrate front wheel lock-ups, I don't think it's anything that anyone would recommend during normal (ie emergency or any other) braking. On the road you can't accurately predict the amount of grip that you might have, let alone always be able to get to threshold - especially when under mental stress of an immediate life-threatening situation.

That said, not long after BMW introduced ABS as an option, I heard someone saying about his ride "I had the ABS cutting in all the time". Ok, that was first generation which was (to say the least ) a bit clunky. But getting it working all the time on a dry warm day? Poor braking.
Anecdotal I know..... but I had the ABS cut in on an F800S when they were relatively new (so that's gen 2 or 3 of BMW's ABS systems). It was on a lovely dry, sunny day, nice dry tarmac, under light braking conditions (certainly not emergency or even heavy braking). The reason was simple - the road surface was 'rough' (not poor, just rough), and the bike's forks were a little softly sprung so they were bouncing off the roughness of the road, causing the front wheel's grip to diminish (not disappear). The ABS computer obviously thought the bike was skidding and so cycled the braking force being applied.

For reference it happened here, travelling eastbound : https://www.google.co.uk/maps/place/51% ... -0.4713961
which is a slightly downhill good quality road approaching a staggered cross-roads. There was a car in the minor road on the left so I was just dragging the brakes a little to reduce speed and be ready if it pulled out - which it didn't.

I didn't crash into the car coming out of the junction, but it certainly felt like I was going to because the bike actually stopped slowing down. I've hated ABS on bikes ever since. :( With regular brakes I wouldn't have had any issues whatsoever and would have had better braking and full control.
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Re: Major vs. marginal gains in safety

Post by Horse »

I've heard similar (downhill, bumps) before.

However, if the system has identified that you're about to experience the tyres losing grip, how do you know it was wrong?

Not saying that the system was right and you were wrong BTW, just asking.
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Re: Major vs. marginal gains in safety

Post by Horse »

I've heard similar (downhill, bumps) before.

However, if the system has identified that you're about to experience the tyres losing grip, how do you know it was wrong?

Not saying that the system was right and you were wrong BTW, just asking.
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Re: Major vs. marginal gains in safety

Post by Horse »

http://www.investigativeresearch.org/

Quote from the author, in a follow-up discussion:
One issue that came through was that bikes with ABS in a crash - given that the system is to keep the bike upright - may actually cause the rider to go topside, which as the study shows, is the worst case scenario. Then there was the fact that one third of the riders didn't use their brakes at all, whether they had ABS or not, makes you wonder. As we wrote, in an emergency situation what seems to matter is the ability of the rider to control the technology i.e. experience, control, awareness.
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Re: Major vs. marginal gains in safety

Post by Rockburner »

Horse wrote: Fri Apr 17, 2020 12:17 pm I've heard similar (downhill, bumps) before.

However, if the system has identified that you're about to experience the tyres losing grip, how do you know it was wrong?

Not saying that the system was right and you were wrong BTW, just asking.
The problem is this:

the tyre losing a bit of grip is NOT a problem in EVERY situation.

The computer is not yet powerful enough, or programmed well enough to understand that.

The latest version may well be, I daresay the programming and sensor data has come on leaps and bounds in the last 10 years or so.
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Re: Major vs. marginal gains in safety

Post by Rockburner »

Horse wrote: Fri Apr 17, 2020 4:17 pm http://www.investigativeresearch.org/

Quote from the author, in a follow-up discussion:
One issue that came through was that bikes with ABS in a crash - given that the system is to keep the bike upright - may actually cause the rider to go topside, which as the study shows, is the worst case scenario. Then there was the fact that one third of the riders didn't use their brakes at all, whether they had ABS or not, makes you wonder. As we wrote, in an emergency situation what seems to matter is the ability of the rider to control the technology i.e. experience, control, awareness.
Again - anecdotal - but I had a minor off in Putney on a K1200R a few years back - a pedestrian ran out in front of me as I was filtering.... it was a wet morning and I didn't brake hard for fear of the front locking up and tucking under. I hit him 'just' hard enough to knock him over, and then I fell over as well simply because I didn't get my foot down fast enough. The idiot jumped up, apologised and ran off!.

The point though is that i'd completely forgotten the bike was fitted with ABS. I'd tried to brake as hard as I dared in the conditions, instead of just grabbing a handful, which I probably could have done without dropping the bike, or hitting the ped! It does happen.
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Re: Major vs. marginal gains in safety

Post by The Spin Doctor »

Horse wrote: Fri Apr 17, 2020 9:51 am
The Spin Doctor wrote: Thu Apr 16, 2020 10:36 pm The reason I demonstrate front wheel lock ups is to show that it's possible to recover from one IF the bike is upright... it's more about ensuring we brake hard in a straight line and getting confident enough to know roughly where the limit is. Most riders never get past 60% of the available brake force yet they think they're on the limit...
Although . . . just to be awkward . . . :)

One of the things that it's worth training yourself to do is release the brakes, then reapply. Many people will 'grab/stamp' rather than apply smoothly, then increase pressure. Having that expectation and 'release, reapply' practice might help overcome situations where grab-lock occurs, rather than having to think "Oh dear whoops, it's skidding, now what should I do . . . ?"
Indeed... release - reapply was what we taught on basic training! It's fairly standard... or at least it was before ABS came along.
Along with keeping head and eyes up, to maintain visual directional control as my MSF colleagues would say :) We found that if you asked riders to stop alongside you, they would often (usually) look at you as they came to a halt - and topple to that side. So the training was to keep looking forwards until stopped, but use peripheral vision to judge location.
Once hard on the brakes it's difficult to change direction... you're pretty much committed to wherever the bike was pointed when you hit the brakes, so I'm not sure it makes much difference. There's also a need to watch the road surface braking hard on the way up to a junction for instance- the number of access covers that turn out to be placed right where we're pulling emergency manoeuvres is scary.

And in an e-stop, the main goal is actually coming to a halt. I'd prefer to do it upright but if I avoided a collision and dropped it at the very last I'd still count that a win.
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Re: Major vs. marginal gains in safety

Post by Horse »

Yes, release-reapply is taught, but probably to the same effectiveness of warnings about stopping around bends etc. For many, that training was long ago, far away. It's something that most* riders need to consciously remind themselves in normal riding (like consciously countersteering).

* Yozzer, yes we know you're exempt:)

The VDC (look where you want to go) is likely to be particularly useful should you get the rear locked and snaking about, or decide to release the brakes and swerve. However, if doing an e-stop, I doubt any mortal has mental capacity to watch the road surface - the time for that has passed.
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Re: Major vs. marginal gains in safety

Post by The Spin Doctor »

Horse wrote: Sat Apr 18, 2020 9:17 am Yes, release-reapply is taught, but probably to the same effectiveness of warnings about stopping around bends etc. For many, that training was long ago, far away. It's something that most* riders need to consciously remind themselves in normal riding (like consciously countersteering).

* Yozzer, yes we know you're exempt:)

The VDC (look where you want to go) is likely to be particularly useful should you get the rear locked and snaking about, or decide to release the brakes and swerve. However, if doing an e-stop, I doubt any mortal has mental capacity to watch the road surface - the time for that has passed.
Well, there's only so many warnings you can offer about the need to practice...
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Re: Major vs. marginal gains in safety

Post by Horse »

The Spin Doctor wrote: Sat Apr 18, 2020 3:52 pm
Horse wrote: Sat Apr 18, 2020 9:17 am Yes, release-reapply is taught, but probably to the same effectiveness of warnings about stopping around bends etc. For many, that training was long ago, far away. It's something that most* riders need to consciously remind themselves in normal riding (like consciously countersteering).
Well, there's only so many warnings you can offer about the need to practice...
More a consistent way of riding, always, than practicing for something that might happen.
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Re: Major vs. marginal gains in safety

Post by The Spin Doctor »

Horse wrote: Sat Apr 18, 2020 6:18 pm
More a consistent way of riding, always, than practicing for something that might happen.
Eh?

So how did you prepare for the 'jump'?

Our practice MUST include riding consistently to master the core techniques but we really do need to know what to do and how to do it in the off-normal situations too.
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Re: Major vs. marginal gains in safety

Post by Horse »

The Spin Doctor wrote: Sat Apr 18, 2020 7:33 pm
Horse wrote: Sat Apr 18, 2020 6:18 pm
More a consistent way of riding, always, than practicing for something that might happen.
Eh?

So how did you prepare for the 'jump'?

Our practice MUST include riding consistently to master the core techniques but we really do need to know what to do and how to do it in the off-normal situations too.
I'm drawing a distinction between formal training or conscious (but ad hoc) occasional practice, and day-to-day, business as usual, always do this, riding.

I heard about Jump in early 1980. I told others, demonstrated it (standing from a chair), visualised it, thought about it when there were cars at junctions, even practised standing on the 'rests. I wrote about it in a series of articles , included it in training courses (one trainee used it), etc.
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Re: Major vs. marginal gains in safety

Post by Dodgy knees »

One scenario where I have become very conscious of grip is overtaking. If accelerating to overtake, I'm steady over white lines especially when wet, then when returning to correct lane always easing off brakes while crossing back, then back on brakes hard before hitting the car in front. 👍
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Re: Major vs. marginal gains in safety

Post by Rockburner »

Dodgy knees wrote: Sun Apr 19, 2020 9:30 am One scenario where I have become very conscious of grip is overtaking. If accelerating to overtake, I'm steady over white lines especially when wet, then when returning to correct lane always easing off brakes while crossing back, then back on brakes hard before hitting the car in front. 👍
Is that something you learnt from bitter experience, someone else's tale of woe and glory, or something you figured out after reading and analysis?

Always interesting to know where the ideas come from.
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