The South and East Kent Committee’s second Road Awareness Day took place on a warm and sunny day in July. Some 20 people took advantage of the free event held at Pemsey Stables, a BHS approved livery yard near Ashford. Those attending included adult and junior livery clients, supportive parents, several riders from the surrounding area and even a visiting rider from France.
The day started with a discussion of the general principles of safe riding on the roads, particularly examining riders’ perceptions and experiences of drivers. As many of the participants were also drivers, we then examined the other side of the coin and discussed drivers’ perceptions and experiences of riders. The general agreement was that for each side, understanding the other’s difficulties should lead to safer encounters.
The most frequent irritations for drivers were voted to be riders not showing that they are aware of the driver’s presence, riders not clearly taking action to allow a driver to pass as soon as possible and driver's not knowing what the rider is going to do next.
One particular issue in the past had been one of large agricultural vehicles not always passing slowly or giving horses sufficient room when passing. Following discussions with local farmers this situation has largely improved and investigations into the possibility of permissive bridleways are taking place.
As for our first day, two volunteer riders demonstrated how to safely negotiate road junctions set out in the field. Those on foot walked through the road junctions, indicating as appropriate, with everyone freely giving judgement on the performance!
To finish, a dismounted volunteer acted as an impatient driver following each of the riders in turn through the junctions. Our junior volunteer, decked out in full hi-viz kit, rode through the route perfectly, indicating and manoeuvring correctly. The senior rider then gave an equally impressive demonstration of how not to do it, including using her mobile phone and a spectacular display of fist shaking at the driver.
At the end of the day, all agreed that they would take away the message of understanding the difficulties of other road users, whether when driving or riding. Knowing the safe and clear way of indicating intentions when riding gave participants greater confidence that they would be as safe as possible when riding out.
The committee’s thanks must go to Barbara Winham, proprietor of Pemsey Stables and also to the two volunteer riders.