01 Aug

How to bike safely on holiday

ABTA's Sean Tipton tells you why you should only ride a motorised bike on holiday if you know what you're doing.

Jeremy Clarkson may not be known for making sensible, balanced statements but every now and again he can surprise you. I remember reading one of his columns in the Sunday Times a few years ago where he talked about how incredibly protective he was of his children’s safety, never letting them do anything remotely dangerous, but suddenly on holiday the usual rules don’t apply and he would happily send them out speeding on jet skis or down white water rapids. Leaving aside the fact that he was being his usual humorous self, he was making a very valid point; most of us indulge in forms of behaviour on holiday that we wouldn’t dream of doing back home.

...the simple rule here is that if you are not an experienced rider, don’t hire these vehicles...

How many times on holiday have you seen young, and in some cases not so young, British holidaymakers bombing down the road on a moped or motorbike, no helmet on, wearing shorts or a swimming costume and flip flops. They look like they’re having a great time but accidents are incredibly common. Even if you come off at quite a low speed you risk serious cuts and grazes, and of course you can also risk broken bones, paralysis or worse. Every year we see people’s holidays or lives ruined, so the simple rule here is that if you are not an experienced rider, don’t hire these vehicles and never ride them without appropriate clothing or a helmet.

Check your travel insurance. If you do have an accident and you don’t have the appropriate driving license you may not be covered. Also, many insurance policies will only insure you for bikes and mopeds under a certain engine size and we are not talking super bikes here.

The new kids on the block in recent years for motorised fun in the sun are quad bikes. In a way they are even more dangerous than two wheeled forms of transport in that pretty much ANYONE can drive them after a few minutes tuition. The problem with this is that they are powerful machines, it can be easy to lose control if you are unused to riding them and they can overbalance, leaving you trapped underneath some very heavy machinery. Also, totally inexperienced drivers going down busy roads at 30mph is a recipe for disaster.

ABTA’s advice is that they are best avoided unless you are using them as part of an organised, properly supervised, off road party. Several deaths or serious injuries overseas, of UK holidaymakers, in the last five years have shown just how dangerous quadbikes can be.