22 June 2019

Steve Lake: staying safe on the road

| Emma Davidson
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Two riders wearing helmets and motorcycle jackets, sitting on motorcycles.

Riders at Revolution Rider Training. Photos: Supplied.

Over the past nine years as a motorcycle riding instructor, Steve Lake has learned a thing or two about what makes a motorcyclist safer on the roads. Now he’s bringing that expertise to Canberra and the surrounding region, having started training local riders at Revolution Rider Training in February this year.

For most riders, Steve says the difference between having an accident or not is in the choices they make, and their behaviour and attitudes on the road.

“That’s not specific to motorcyclists – most incidents on the road, human error is a factor, and only about twelve per cent can be attributed to the vehicle,” Steve says.

“It’s making good decisions – for example, wearing protective clothing, not riding impaired. But it’s also while you’re riding, actively managing the risks.”

While accidents can happen to car drivers for the same reasons as motorcyclists, some of these risks are more likely to occur for motorcyclists because larger vehicle drivers may not see them. And if an accident happens to a motorcyclist, they have less protection around them than a car driver.

“You have to be actively watching what’s happening around you, and before you get into a situation, recognise it’s developing and don’t even get into it. That way, you don’t need to save yourself, nothing becomes an emergency,” Steve says.

Cornering and braking are also different on a motorcycle, and road surface changes such as gravel or oil have a bigger impact on motorcycles.

Instructor standing next to a rider on a motorcycle, pointing towards the front wheel as he talks to the rider

Practising safe braking techniques at Revolution Rider Training.

Helping new road riders understand the risks they need to predict, and how best to prepare for those risks, is how he hopes to reduce road trauma for motorcyclists.

With 19 years experience in road safety, delivering education programs around Australian in both car and motorcycle road safety, Steve says the key to good adult education is respecting the student’s experience. He talks about building a relationship with the student that helps them feel comfortable and enjoy their learning journey.

“We bring this behaviour change psychology that’s behind everything we do to the motorcycle training,” Steve says.

Revolution Rider Training has been teaching motorcycle skills in Queensland and Wagga Wagga, and has been providing educational programs in road ready driver skills and safety in the ACT and NSW since 2000.

While it’s not mandatory to hold a Certificate IV in motorcycle instruction to teach in the ACT and NSW, Steve says, Revolution Rider Training requires all their instructors to hold a Certificate IV.

“We’ve only got (students) for seven hours, but we’re finding that we’re able to build a strong relationship,” Steve says.

“In the curriculum, there’s about 31 activities in a seven-hour course. It can get very stop-start. What we try and do is blend them so it’s not just going from one activity to the next, we’re just adding new skills in and learning more as we go to the goal at the end.”

He says that this results in a more relaxed, informal experience for students, giving them the confidence to try and fail in a safe environment as part of their learning journey, so that by the time they complete the course they can ride safely on the road.

Steve and his team work with others in the local motorcycle community to make riding a fun and safe experience. “Canberra Motorcycle Centre have been great, probably the best range of bikes and gear I’ve seen,” Steve says.

Rider on a motorcycle turning his front wheel while riding forwards

Demonstrating a U-turn at Revolution Rider Training.

Steve’s ultimate goal at Revolution Rider Training is to reduce road trauma.

“In the end, if I can retire and say that we brought a better training service to the customer, respectful to the client, but most importantly that they go away with a better understanding of how to be safe on the road, that’s the optimum.”

Original Article published by Emma Davidson on The RiotACT.

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