By Angelos Anastasiou
THE period from 2004 to 2013 saw 229 motorcyclists killed in road accidents, some 30 per cent of all fatal victims, despite representing a small fraction of motorists, the chief of traffic police Demetris Demetriou said on Wednesday.
He said that “unfortunately, not a day goes by without a victim of a road crash involving motorcyclists,” adding that “sometimes the motorcyclists are at fault, but in most cases the drivers are to blame, either because they don’t pay attention to motorcyclists, or because they cut them off, and in a few cases both are to blame.”
But regardless of who is to blame, Demetriou said, “in all cases the price is paid by motorcyclists because they are most vulnerable and most exposed to danger.” He also expressed concern over the fact that “the primary cause of road accidents that prove fatal to motorcyclists is driving under the influence of alcohol.”
“That is why a bill was tabled in parliament in 2010 drastically reducing the maximum alcohol limit on learner drivers, professional drivers and motorcyclists,” he added.
Demetriou announced the launch of joint efforts with the ‘Drasis’ Federation of Bikers’ Clubs and the Reaction group relating to road safety, aiming at educating, sensitising, and raising awareness, both among motorcyclists and drivers.
According to Demetriou, the efforts begin with the 14th Journey of Love of the Cyprus Association for Children with Cancer and Related Diseases “One Dream One Wish”, which will be held from Thursday to Sunday.
Specifically, police motorcyclists escorting the campaign, as they have done for several years, along with volunteers from the ‘Drasis’ bikers’ federation and Reaction, will distribute educational posters created for the campaign, to villages and towns they pass through.
Further, Demetriou said, in the context of the nationwide educational campaign, educational fliers containing useful advice and tips on how to avoid road crashes will be distributed to busy spots and main road arteries.
He explained that “the slogan of the campaign is that in any given instance we do not know who is behind the helmet – it could be a friend, a brother, someone close. Which is why we must always respect and pay attention to motorcyclists,” and thanked all contributors for their willingness to cooperate.
‘Drasis’ coordinator Jimmys Angelidis said that the ten biker clubs that are joining forces in this year-long campaign participate in the Journey of Love every year.
The aim of the campaign, he said, is on the one hand to create a better culture among drivers with regard to motorcyclists, and on the other for motorcyclists themselves to protect themselves.
“One Dream One Wish” head Yiorgos Penintaex expressed the foundation’s support to the bikers’ campaign, adding that the foundation pays back a little of what it owes the motorcyclists who participate in the Journey of Love every year.
“Behind the helmet is someone close to us, but also a volunteer who helps suffering children,” Penintaex said, wishing the campaigners the best of luck.
Reaction group’s head Marios Stavriou, said that “it is now widely accepted, internationally, that of all road accidents involving motorcyclists, only 15-20 per cent can be blamed on the motorcyclists themselves.”
He added that “usually drivers of other vehicles bear the responsibility for collisions, but many times they can be attributed to the road network, and so motorcyclists need to protect themselves appropriately.”
“It is a shame that most victims of road crashes in hospital right now are motorcyclists”, Stavrou said. He concluded that “together, we can make the impossible seem easy.”
On behalf of Minerva insurance, Kostakis Koutsokoumnis said that the company is covering the campaign’s expenses, contributing to its success.