5 things to check before you ride for charity
Charities continue to collect record-breaking amounts – no doubt as we all feel there is always someone worse off. Bikers are benevolent, so many of us will be happy to help out with egg runs, village fetes or rideouts to raise cash for the local hospice, air ambulance or another equally worthy cause. However, please take a minute to read this. It may be all it takes to make sure your good intentions don’t cause you a whole heap of trouble.
Charity runs and similar events can attract thousands of bikers, including those who only venture out rarely and maybe don’t properly check the roadworthiness of their dusty steed from the shed. Traffic police who are under pressure to boost their figures have been known to park on inward routes with speed guns or to pull over small number plates, race-only pipes and other modifications.
Be warned there is no ‘charidee’ excuse if your bike breaches the law (see various Construction and Use Regulations) and certainly not if you are riding aggressively, too close or in an intimidating way. Keep calm and ride well.
Pillion love songs
Carrying pillions is a particular issue. While it may seem like a laugh to have Orville the Duck, Tony the Tiger or Nellie the Elephant perched on the back of your R1 waving a flag and a bucket, the police might take the view that the purpose for which your bike is used or the manner in which your passengers are carried is such that the use of the bike involves a danger of injury to any person (s40A Road Traffic Act 1988) and thus “You’re nicked, son” (The Sweeney, 1975).
‘Pillion experience rides’ at a few quid a go can have excited fete-goers queuing back to the tombola. You may be okay on private land, but all rules still apply on the road and the major concern is that you could be in breach of your insurance if it all goes wrong. The ‘not for hire or reward’ exclusion in virtually all policies, including yours, would bite. Points, a fine and possible disqualification could follow, as you would effectively be riding uninsured (s143 RTA 1988). You could also be personally liable for any claim arising, which could be ruinous.
On sauce back
Be careful as well when taking any pillion if they have been drinking. Strangely, there is no specific law in relation to drunk pillions, but if Bob the Builder has had a few shandies and is standing on the back seat singing “Yes we can!”, you are undoubtedly riding in a way the magistrate will not accept. A due care and attention conviction is points and a fine, dangerous driving by contrast is an involuntary stay as a guest of Her Majesty (s2 and s3 RTA 1988).
We all know to wear close-fitting motorcycle kit while riding out on a ‘normal’ day. Nothing to get caught in wheels, etc. Unfortunately, Orville, Tony or Nellie’s baggy costumes are not immune from accidents just because they are cute. Coming off at low speeds can still cause damage to you, them or the bike.
For any event, the organisers should have public liability insurance cover in place. This is often a prerequisite of any council- or military-run or approved event. BMF-affiliated clubs have the benefit of civil liability cover (more comprehensive than public liability) included in affiliation. The bizarre does happen so, if you are organising an event, ask a broker to source such insurance cover or get your club to affiliate to the BMF. Remember that, if anyone does sue ‘the event’ for any reason, it is the organisers who will end up paying the bills and, if you own property…
The vast majority of events pass off without incident and are a vital and enjoyable part of British biking life. With just a little thoughtful preparation, the disaster scenario can be easily avoided.