This month’s clip of the month is an excellent example of why observation (and its undeniably vital importance in allowing time to anticipate, plan for, see and mitigate hazards as far ahead as possible) is so important. It also relates to the concept of consideration for other road users (in this case horses).
The rider is making rapid progress along a straight and quiet country road. Ahead in the distance a horse pulling a cart is spooked by the noise of the fast moving motorcycle and veers up, pulling the cart into the path of the rider.
The Highway Code dedicates a not insignificant number of column inches to both rules for horse riders and horse drawn vehicles on the roads, as well as rules for other road users in relation to horses and horse drawn vehicles.
When passing animals, drive slowly. Give them plenty of room and be ready to stop. Do not scare animals by sounding your horn, revving your engine or accelerating rapidly once you have passed them. Look out for animals being led, driven or ridden on the road and take extra care. Keep your speed down at bends and on narrow country roads. If a road is blocked by a herd of animals, stop and switch off your engine until they have left the road. Watch out for animals on unfenced roads.
Be particularly careful of horse riders and horse-drawn vehicles especially when overtaking. Always pass wide and slowly. Horse riders are often children, so take extra care and remember riders may ride in double file when escorting a young or inexperienced horse or rider. Look out for horse riders’ and horse drivers’ signals and heed a request to slow down or stop. Take great care and treat all horses as a potential hazard; they can be unpredictable, despite the efforts of their rider/driver.
The last part of Rule 215 is particularly pertinent to this clip. The horse was spooked and reacted erratically, thus increasing the need for the rider to have stopped (possibly switching off the engine if necessary).
In all circumstances giving horses both consideration and space is vital. Part of Rule 163 of the highway code advises that, when overtaking, it is important to “give motorcyclists, cyclists and horse riders at least as much room as you would when overtaking a car”
As a general rule, thinking motorcyclists and horse riders coexist very well alongside each other on the roads. Good use of observation will allow you to spot horses in good time, and to slow down and pass slowly and quietly as required. A friendly wave and acknowledgment will go a long way to generate good will between the horse riding community and bikers.
If you watch the clip all the way through you will see the rider is (understandably) visibly shaken and upset (but no doubt very relieved) by the near miss. However, reading the road ahead, noticing the horse much earlier and reacting to it by slowing down and either stopping if appropriate or passing slowly and quietly (had the horse not been spooked) would have been a much better course of action and avoided what could have been a much worse incident.
Would you like to nominate your favourite biking related clip as clip of the month? It can be anything you like with a motorcycling theme – examples of sparklingly good riding, best practice, hazard avoidance, inspired planning, intelligent decision making, lessons to be learned, sheer idiocy or simply something side-splittingly funny. Please send your nominations, along with a link, to editor@L-A-M.org
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