Tuesday, 11 December 2012

MCUI-UC RealRoadRacing Safety Policy For Slow Learners

Real Road Racing Motorcycle Blog by Barbiegirl Northern Ireland

Okay so it was a typical cold Northern Ireland winter morning, nonetheless one has to say it was rather wonderful to wake up this morning and experience the chill in the air, if I hadn’t I’d obviously not be alive and kicking. Now who'd have thought it, Xmas is all but upon us, no longer are we counting the months, the weeks – they’re are all but gone, sooner rather than later we’ll be counting the hours – the minutes, the seconds. If you haven’t purchased the latest useless tacky must have presents for all those people you barely know, or like that much, forget it. More important is the demon drink cabinet annual stocktake - time to run around the wine department like the proverbial headless chicken, or should that be turkey?

One thing is for sure though, there’s no need to buy tickets for that Christmas phenomenon so unique to these islands - the pantomime – in this part of the world we have several perpetual pantomimes. In recent times though, the cast of characters from two of these long running farcical productions have amalgamated. The MCUI-UC production ‘The Dinosaurs Talk Safety?’ now also includes many eejits from the other pantomime up on the big hill – Stormont. Neither the script nor the players have changed little in past decades as indeed was the case in February 2010 at the Chimney Corner Hotel when the MCUI-UC Dinosaur Players once again presented ‘The Dinosaurs Talk Safety?’ a strange insanely unbelievable fictional tale of alleged imaginary safety policies.

The plot was simple, it had to be for the alleged simpletons whose benefit it was for – Tony Harvey provided the Management Committee with a short summary of his then recent discussions with Senior Coroner Mr John Leckey and representatives from DCAL, including Colin Watson and Ciaran Mee regarding the video and photographic evidence from the 2007 Tandragee 100. Following this, the Dinosaurs discussed their planned responses to the ‘concerns’ raised at the aforementioned Tony Harvey / DCAL meeting.

First concern of Senior Coroner Mr John Leckey and the DCAL representatives was the close proximity of many people to Racing Motorcycles, nor did they understand how it could have been logical to allow the speed of a safety chicane to increase from approximately 60MPH to around 100MPH and were also concerned that key groups such as the Road Inspection Committee and Safety Committees can change en masse after each AGM and voiced their opinion that every effort must be made to ensure that persons acting on these committees should be completely detached from any gain. The speed of the modern day Racing Motorcycle was they allegedly said - almost incredible.

The footage of the John Donnan accident in 2007 was then replayed – and for those who have not had sight of it previously, by any standards, it is truly horrendous viewing. One is quite sure there are many in our midst who will never forget it - the infamous straw bale chicane, the farcical pantomime performances of MCUI-UC officials at the inquest of the much missed John Donnan.

Tony Harvey then asked the assembled MCUI-UC Dinosaur throng how it would be possible to make road racing safer and suggested that it could be helped by placing spectators in safe areas and reducing the HP of the machines. Billy Rodger suggested however that it would be impossible to reduce the HP on machines, likewise to impose that level of control on all the spectators. Tony Harvey replied that this would be difficult but we must start now and be seen to be improving safety. He then went on to say that DCAL were most keen to see that steps were being taken to provide an external assessor and it is likely that they (DCAL) would use him to assist them with the information they require. George McCann asked Tony Harvey if he thought DCAL would be willing to give a period of time to allow the issues to develop. Tony Harvey replied that he believed a period of time would be granted but a specific plan would have to be met.

NW200 supremo Mervyn Whyte stated that he hoped to see a suitable external person coming in and working alongside the Road Inspection Committee in the year ahead - 2010. Apart from the obvious, the footage shown on the two DVDs illustrated that many non-competitors, including race officials and spectators, were at a very serious risk of injury or death. This situation has been acknowledged for several years now and the implementation of improvement measures has been under continuous review.

Immediately following the John Donnan fatality, the circumstances of the accident were analysed by Officials within the MCUI (Ulster Centre) Ltd to ensure that the appropriate lessons were learned from this unfortunate incident. Practical steps have subsequently been taken, so far as is possible, to mitigate against the same or similar incidents occurring.

Particular attention had been paid to two important elements: Track dimensions, run-off and the design of chicanes; and the position of officials and members of the public in the immediate vicinity of the track. A policy of wider and deeper “no-go” zones has been implemented at all circuits in 2008 and 2009 and would be pursued further. The basic principle of “no track-side personnel” had been adopted and written into Official Track Certificates. This applies basically to Marshals, first aiders and other officials who enter these areas only in emergency to perform their duties, and always under the protection of a waved yellow flag. In addition, considerable work had been carried out on the analysis of distances travelled by machines which have been “downed” at various speeds, and “line of fire” prohibited areas identified and enforced according to machine speeds at the particular points.

The public especially can only be present in areas at an acceptable distance from the racing surface and where additionally protected (as appropriate) by walls, fences or other barriers. The crucial point here is that they be kept at a safe distance from the action.

What allegedly appeared to have concerned the DCAL representatives et al the most was whether it was acceptable in the 21st century to have motor cycle races on public roads bearing in mind: (a) the speed potential of modern racing motor cycles-, (b) the nature of public roads; (c) the unpredictable consequences of mechanical failure or a competitor losing control of his machine or a crash involving a number of competitors; and (d) the difficulty of ensuring spectator safety particularly where spectators are allowed to be positioned close to the racing.

The MCUI-UC response was that this larger question needed to be broken down into several parts: Speed Potential: Undeniably, the speed of all motor sport tends to creep upward year on year and this is a concern for all racing officials. It is perhaps appropriate here to quote from the Roads Inspection Committee’s Annual Report to the MCUI (Ulster Centre) AGM in November 2009: “Speaking on behalf of the three Committee Members who have declined to let their names go forward for re-election for 2010, I have to say that we are all agreed that unless drastic steps are taken to (1) Reduce the speeds of machines in road races especially and (2) Remove all Personnel and Spectators from within range of circuit accidents, the time will very soon come when road racing will be a thing of the past. ”However, to date, no speed inhibiting mechanisms have been deployed on racing motorcycles. This is a subject which needs further consideration – while it may not be achievable in practice, then the alternative of not running the higher-powered “Superbikes” might be a consideration.

Spectator safety, particularly where spectators are allowed to be positioned close to the racing: The Track Certificates, which are essential to the running of Road Races, clearly specify the location and dimensions of all areas, entry to which is Prohibited to the Public. For each Circuit, these must be reconsidered with Prohibited Areas greatly increased and enlarged – the days of watching “from behind the hedge” or, worse, “from below and through the hedge” are clearly gone. This requires a robust policy – from the governing body and delivered by the Organising Club. Failure to meet the minimum requirements should result in stiff penalties - a bit like a football club having to pay a large fine if its supporters behave badly on the way to the match. As mentioned recently, a renewed effort needs to go into achieving all these points otherwise we are quite certain that our days of enjoying road racing will come to an end.

At this point we the audience should roll about laughing hysterically, but we've heard all of those ancient jokes before - a million times or more it seems like - the Dinosaurs are in urgent need of new material. Six draft safety documents perhaps!

The Dinosaurs Talk Safety? - an alleged MCUI-UC Fantasy Production featuring the alleged MCUI-UC Dinosaur Players with the alleged DCAL On The Hill Comedians et al as special guests. To protect the innocent, the names remain the same, likewise the location. The special appearance of the annoymous invisible external assessor person was played by the Ghost of Task Force 2000 and appeared courtesy of Dinosaur Fantasyland Fictional Productions.

Safety Representatives were unable to monitor every scene in which chickens and turkeys appeared. However, the alleged fictional MCUI-UC Bird Safety Inspection Committee aided by the External Assessor person oversaw all significant bird action sequences in compliance with the non-existent alleged MCUI-UC bird protection safety policy. After viewing the finished production and cross-checking all bird action supervised during production, Barbiegirl acknowledges that the producers allegedly failed to fully comply with all bird safety guidelines as allegedly published in Taskforce 2000 and strongly recommends the placement of more straw bales where unappropriate to do so.

Save Our Sport From Evil

©2012 Motorcycle RealRoadRacing Blog by Barbiegirl Northern Ireland