The inaugural No Day to Die event was held on 2 September 2012. Its purpose was to make road users aware of motorcyclists around them. Simon Sonnekus spoke to Gary Sletcher, one of the organisers.
It seems a lot of bikers attended the event, but do you think it was successful in terms of motorists noticing bikers?
Yes. The route went through major urban hotspots and highways, some bikers wore “Let Them SEE AND HEAR US” banners and T-shirts. The message also went out on major radio stations and was covered by e.tv.
The event was organized in under three weeks, so we were unable to include organizations like Think Bike and the route was also shortened by the traffic department. But the next one will be organised months in advance and the message will reach more drivers and bikers alike.
What do you think should bikers do to be noticed everyday?
Ride with their brights on. Only dim when sitting behind a car, so you don’t irritate the driver. Wear bright helmets and reflective clothing. Get your positioning in traffic right.
Why do you think bikers are not noticed on roads? Should bikers not be more careful in traffic?
In my opinion, bikers are not noticed because drivers are subconsciously looking for threats (trucks and other cars) and bikes don’t register as a big threat. Bikes also have thin profiles that can be obscured by bus stops, dustbins, lampposts and even an object hanging from the car’s rear-view mirror.
Bikers are sometimes to blame when they ride too fast or overtake on the left or ride on the left where drivers don’t look. And bikers should be more careful when lane splitting, and generally slow down in traffic.
Are there future plans for No Day to Die? And what about other cities and provinces?
Plans are being made for the next run; the date still needs to be finalised but it will take place in September 2013.
All provinces were included in the last run, but Capetonians were the most enthusiastic, with Kimberly coming in a close second. People from the US and Canada also heard about the ride and organised similar outrides in their towns and cities.
What do you think about the new suggested speed limit (110km/h) in the Western Cape?
I think it’s useless. How are they going to stop people breaking the law by changing the speed limit? Speed is dependent on the surrounding conditions; sometimes 60km/h is too fast for certain conditions. Nabbing people for recklessly changing lanes or talking on cellphones while driving as well as speeding would help, but changing the law is not going to make law-abiding citizens out of law breakers.
Should bikers stick to speed limits? Why or why not?
Yes, they should because many bike accidents are caused by excessive speed. Drivers often can’t judge the speed of bikes because of their thin profile. Drivers often complain about bikers appearing next to them or speeding past when they weren’t there a second ago after the driver checked before attempting to change lanes or turn.
Having said that, it’s like asking a driver of an F1 racing car to control himself on the Autobahn; it’s just not going to happen every time. If a biker can’t resist the urge to speed, he should do it when conditions are safe to do so, i.e. when there are no parked cars, people, side roads, driveways or any other kind of road furniture to worry about. (Better yet, go to the track. – ed.)
What part do you play in No Day to Die?
I am responsible for marshalling, advertising and other media. I coordinate various tasks including advertising and I was the spokesman for the event.