Africa / Asia / third-world-relevant training

Discussion in 'The Perfect Line and Other Riding Myths' started by slartidbartfast, Nov 7, 2013.

  1. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes

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    Hi all

    I have been asked to gather ideas and possibly outline a curriculum for training a number of motorcycle riders who are using small motorcycles for light deliveries and work visits in African and Asian countries. This would be intended to enhance safety for experienced motorcycle operators already engaged in this activity.

    As far as riding environments are concerned, we are talking everything from dirt roads in rural areas to the craziness of major cities' gridlock. The curricula would need to be modified for relevance to prevalent local conditions.

    I envisage the training as part of a package of measures including provision of safety gear and enhanced inspection and maintenance. Initially I'd like to focus on the roads and cities more East Africa. There is not likely to be much chance to set up a sophisticated training facility but laying out space for some simple braking, swerving and cornering practice should be possible.

    If anyone has experience with any similar training activities I would love to hear from them. Additionally, I warmly welcome any suggestions, comments and discussion.

    Thanks in advance.
    #1
  2. Jacl-Kampuchea

    Jacl-Kampuchea Booze Merchant

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    Where do you live and drive?


    I ask as somebody who has a few hundred thousand k's bike riding experience in Cambodia (mainly) Lao, and just a bit in Vietnam.

    If you haven't been driving in these places for a lengthly period then you have ABSOLUTELY NO grounds to do more than basic signal and helmet type stuff.

    Hey, not knocking you - perhaps you are in a position to do so. I'm just saying.
    #2
  3. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes

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    I have worked and travelled extensively in developing countries for many years. However, I do not have anything close to your sort of riding experience there. From my observations, braking, swerving and cornering skills could be improved in every single country I have visited. Enforcing basic rules such as wearing of appropriate gear and not carrying passengers or excessive loads would also benefit those whose employment requires that they use a motorcycle for transportation.

    Aside from the above and the obvious facetious suggestions about making progress in crazy traffic, please point out things you typically see as poor practices and suggest some of the things you would consider critical skills to improve the safety of riding in your locale. I hope you don't mind answering a few extra questions.
    #3
  4. daveinva

    daveinva Been here awhile

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    While riding in Africa, your front tire *will* wash out if it strikes a plastic bag full of human waste.

    Lesson: don't hit plastic bags full of human waste. :deal

    (Snark aside... nothing to add, good luck!)
    #4
  5. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes

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    Wow! Given the usual eagerness of so many on this forum to engage in debate and share anecdotes (constructive or otherwise) on any topic that comes along, I had really expected more response.

    Don't hold back folks - Interested in experience, data or inspiration relevant to:
    • typical crash scenarios
    • tips for riding street bikes on dirt roads, dodging camels, etc.
    • relevant skills that may be lacking
    #5
  6. Vertical C

    Vertical C Long timer

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    When I was in India I rode, I started doing things that I wouldn't do here. Like overtaking a bus on the other shoulder. I think the low speed makes you cocky.

    I think a lot of it will be attitude....how you teach that?...you got me.

    I would do some of the training on dirt on road tyres, or even better have the surface constantly changing from tar to dirt.

    Edit: We saw a local crash when a car pulled out in front of them, so I guess reactionary braking is good. One of our lot crashed as well and broke their leg, not sure how it happened, believe on a bend.
    #6
  7. Aj Mick

    Aj Mick Long timer

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    Jaci-Kampuchea is spot on…..

    I am aware that slatibartfast is a highly (recently) qualified MSF trainer, but resorting to an internet forum to get information to devise a training course suggests a lack of relevant experience. There is only one way to get the information… Experience the roads, and to talk to people along the way.

    None the less, I'll say that most of the people riding in the places slartibartfast is talking about have probably been riding since they were a kid (me too). They may not know all the theory, but they will know how to ride. They ride to get around, not for a hobby like many/most do in the west.

    Simple braking, swerving and cornering will be second nature to them. Frankly, "emergency" swerving or braking is often likely to cause more problems than it solves. Fancy theory and riding techniques do little to enhance safety anywhere. Even with basic skills a rider can stay safe……… and in my experience by far the majority do. Those who don't, or cause accidents, are the usual suspects; young and crazy, sans helmet, and drugged up or drunk.

    Awareness and anticipation is the key. One thing that I am aware of is that a lot of people in these parts tend for focus pretty much on where they want to be in the next second or two, and do not take much notice of what is going on around them. Regardless of what the road code says, the rule to live by is, "Be aware of, and yield to anything bigger or crazy".

    If you can get riders to be a little more aware and anticipating, it would go a long way to helping improve things.

    Forget ATGATT…. it is all very nice in theory, but it's not gonna catch on in practice. Most rides are quite short, and getting all clobbered up is not a goer. A jacket of some sort might work if it was part of a company uniform

    Getting people to wear helmets would be a start….. but you can forget full face helmets in the environment. However it only takes a moment to put on and fasten a properly fitting open face helmet, that could make all the difference in a crash.

    Easier said than done in a place where the range of sizes and shapes is limited despite the size of the market. People just don't like to wear helmets because they are uncomfortable. Still, it can be done. I have taken the time with some people to find a helmet that does fit. Once they find a comfortable one, they are far more inclined to wear it.

    I say this with at least 400,000 km of riding on roads of all sorts in about 15 countries over the past 47 years and a whole lot more off road. That includes about 130,000 km in Phuket over the last ten years, in addition to about 30,000 km in other parts of the country, and a few more inneighbouring Laos and Malaysia.

    Since the day my father showed me the controls in 1966 I have neither had a lesson, nor read a book about riding, but seem to have muddled along OK on good old fashioned common sense. I have been accident and ticket free since I was a bullet-proof youth in 1976.
    #7
  8. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes

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    Thanks for the input. Note that this has absolutely nothing to do with MSF. I am quite certain that most of the sort of things taught in street-oriented courses in countries where motorcycles are recreational vehicles are of limited relevance. However, I watch motorcycle traffic quite closely on my travels and I am pretty sure that most of the riders with a lifetime of riding experience are still lacking in understanding some of the basics, like countersteering. Furthermore, in many African countries, people riding motorcycles for work will NOT have a lifetime of riding experience. They may well be new riders.

    I'm trying to draw in as much experience and as many ideas as possible from as many sources as possible whicle I decide if this is even a project worth pursuing. The organization that has asked me about this provides motorcycles and riding gear, so will have the ability to change things like tire choice, safety equipment, etc., if relevant. Unfortunately I don't know exactly what they are doing now so it's difficult for me to provide more details.
    #8
  9. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes

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    The advice to ask people who are doing it is sound. So come on, all of you who are or have been riding in Africa and Asia for years. What have you learned that keeps you out of trouble?
    #9
  10. SilkMoneyLove

    SilkMoneyLove Long timer

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    I would think that situational awareness would be important (does a driver see people they know on the other side of the road, prepare for them to u-turn with no shits given).

    Also being aware of local customs such as how passing is expected to occur. For example, in Mexico one truck decided to pass another, up hill, using my lane as I was headed downhill. I had steep exposure right after the 3 inches or so of gravel shoulder. I moved over as far as I could and did my best to be smooth on the gravel while the trucks passed.

    Some one else may have thought "he sees me, he will pull back in behind the truck and let me have my right of way" or "I am going to freak out and nail the brakes right here on this gravel" but I knew that these truck guys don't give a shit about you or anyone else and gravel doesn't take well to heavy braking ;-)

    So, maybe a list of local customs for the areas you are going to cover would be good.

    I have seen much crazy driving in my limited travels. Good luck and I hope your information helps people.
    #10
  11. miguelitro

    miguelitro I like the ads, in fact, give me more ads.

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    #1) If you see rocks in the road they are likely marking a nissing manhole cover.
    #2) There is a huge probability that if you keep seeing man hole covers in place one will eventually be missing and likely unmarked.
    Mike
    #11
  12. Rakthi

    Rakthi mopetista

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    On winding roads, stay as close to the outside edge of your lane. Cars, busses and other motorbikes are likely to come way over the yellow line (if there is one) due to them going to fast or being lazy.

    Here in Malaysia, overtaking another vehicle in a blind corner is considered normal.

    Stalled trucks / cars get a palm leaf stuck to the back to "warn" you.

    Palm leaves are also used to stick into holes in the road when the grate or manhole cover is missing (stolen for it's value in metal)

    Not abnormal to indicate to the right and turning left or vice versa

    People will back into main roads without looking

    People will turn into main roads without looking

    cows, monkeys and water buffalo can be found roaming the roads - including high ways in more rural settings.

    All in all makes for interesting riding / driving

    Oh and not to forget, over half the people on the road have no license or insurance.
    #12
  13. iamcanjim

    iamcanjim Snorting snow.

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    In the 3rd world, getting into an accident, especially hitting a pedestrian can be awkward.

    If you hit someone, know the local customs. In China when I rode, and many other places, there is not much in the way of accountability. Therefore, if you hit someone and injure or kill them, if you stop your life is probably in danger from the other villagers. The villagers are aware that the only justice they might receive will be at their own hands. So you might get swarmed, beaten to death and buried in an unmarked grave.

    If you hit a pedestrian, especially in a village, keep going. Don't return to the accident scene without an escort.

    This may seem heartless, but don't compound your mistake (hitting someone) by making another (staying on the scene).
    #13
  14. Pecha72

    Pecha72 Long timer

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    yes, it sounds tough, and it is exactly the opposite to what we are being taught to do in ´western´ countries.... but if in a 3rd world country someone else is in a bad shape in an accident that you were involved in, and you can move on, for your own security do so. It may not be easy to deal with the cops later on, but it´s better than mob justice.
    #14
  15. JDK111

    JDK111 Been here awhile

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    Jacl-Kampuchea and Aj Mick are spot on.
    Your target audience are already excellent drivers - so forget teaching them actual riding skills because many will be better than you in their local conditions. Most of the new 'drivers' will have been riders since they were literally babies. Forget about preaching about riding gear.
    The one thing that I see as beneficial is Aj Mick's suggestion of some sort of helmet campaign. IMO, this would be the best place to start.

    .... comments are my opinion and don't mean to come off as a smart ass. I've been to and driven and ridden in 3 African countries and 5 Asian countries. :)
    #15
  16. farqhuar

    farqhuar Human guinea pig

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    This whole thread reeks of western cultural imperialism. :puke1
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  17. slartidbartfast

    slartidbartfast Love those blue pipes

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    How so? Someone asked me if I could suggest ways of improving safety amongst riders making light deliveries and business visits by motorcyle in developing countries. I am trying to decide whether I can do so and what some of the specific learning points might be.

    Taking the advice on here and currently canvassing several Vietnamese riders I am working with this week. At least one of these guys is a lifelong rider and safety professional and has reinforced some of the things noted here. He, however, does NOT share the belief that years of "survival" riding in local conditions means that typical riders are especially skilled or can not be taught a few things that will help them be safer.

    Keep the thoughts and ideas coming guys!
    #17
  18. SilkMoneyLove

    SilkMoneyLove Long timer

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    He is just funning you. Nothing screams Western Cultural Imperialism like calling someone out for Western Cultural Imperialism. :-)

    Rider training, safety gear and bike maintenance. Do they know how to adjust the chain? Keep it lubed and why?
    #18
  19. Rakthi

    Rakthi mopetista

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    Totally agree with him. When one of our visitors got run over by a truck (broken elbow and kneecap) I spend a couple of hours with him in the ER here in the local hospital. The amount of motorbike riders brought in with broken bones / cracked heads was terrifying. They all ride as if they are immortal.

    And there is a helmet law here in Malaysia, but it is not enforced and when they wear one they don't close the straps properly if at all.

    Another problem and cause of accidents is the use of cell phones on the motorbike for texting or calling.

    Not uncommon to see 3 - 4 7-year-old kids piled up on a 125cc motorbike on the kampung roads going way too fast without proper control of the bike.
    #19
  20. dchky

    dchky n00b

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    They don't all ride as if they are immortal, they ride with no concept of the dangers. The problem in the majority is that motorcycles are viewed as a cheap form of personal transport.

    I'm Australian - been through several safety courses, licensing in Australia is quite difficult, in Asia it's the complete opposite. I've done about 250,000 kilometers in the Philippines on various machines from underbones to liter bikes. About the same in other parts of Asia.

    Everything you learn on MSF type courses will be applicable, the difference over this way is that the dangers you need to watch out for are infinitely more common.

    @slartidbartfast
    Delivery service - the riders are compelled to lane split, to speed, to harass, to be obnoxious and arrogant because the more deliveries they make, the more they get paid. Teach them to demand a living wage, teach them to respect and care for the machine. Teach them safety is more important than delivery schedules - if you can't meet the timelines then you need more distribution points.
    #20
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