The DocBikes are coming: Charity putting critical care doctors on bikes launch safety campaign

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A growing band of motorcycling medics have launched a new bike awareness campaign to reduce accidents at junctions.

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DocBike – a charity providing rapid response bikes ridden by specialist trauma doctors – say that new road signs could make drivers and motorcyclists more aware of risks at rural intersections.  

"The human brain is not very good at ‘seeing’ small objects travelling towards it at speed," says Dr Ian Mew, an intensive care consultant who co-founded DocBike six years ago.

"A high proportion of motorcycle collisions occur when another vehicle pulls into the path of a motorcycle which is unable to stop in time. We need all road users to be aware of why motorcyclists get knocked off their bikes."

DocBike rider

The campaign, which starts in Dorset on April 1, 2021 is just part of DocBike’s remit. Getting doctors on motorcycles improves response times and also plays a key role in helping motorcyclists avoid accidents in the first place.

Dr Mew, who’s been riding bikes since he was 16, explains: "The Dorset and Somerset Air Ambulance has an incredible set-up with a new £10m helicopter, but when it came to helping motorcyclists, often the victim would be dead before we got there. We needed to stop these guys from crashing in the first place."

Working with a police crash investigator, Dr Mew found that 80 percent of the most serious accidents could have been avoided if the motorcyclists had been given the skills to spot high risk situations. "DocBike tries to raise awareness of why motorcycle crashes happen, to prevent that 80 percent," he says.

Getting a doctor to the scene of an accident quickly can save lives

Dr Mew also discovered that riders at bike meets listen to doctors in a way we don’t listen to traffic cops. "Police riders have a huge knowledge of where and how crashes happen but as motorcyclists we don’t tap into that because they’re the police.

"But having an air ambulance or critical care clinician on a medical bike is naturally endearing, and people want to talk to us. We talk about the free BikerDown courses, where riders can learn how to keep their mate alive if they’re ever in a crash. And we talk to them about upskilling, so they can become a better rider."

There are currently DocBikes in Dorset, Staffordshire, Wales and Northamptonshire – all ridden by volunteers – but the charity want to expand all over the country. You can support them at the DocBike website and can find your nearest BikerDown course there too.

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John Westlake

By John Westlake