A CAMPAIGN launched four years ago to cut motorcycling deaths and serious injuries in the Borders has won the prestigious Prince Michael International Road Safety Award.
It is the second accolade claimed by Around The Corner which, this summer, became Scotland’s first national motorcycle road safety campaign.
From modest beginnings, the initiative now has the backing of all eight of Scotland’s police forces.
The campaign began in 2007 shortly after a biker was killed in a collision with a fire engine on the A708 Selkirk to Moffat road near St Mary’s Loch.
In the previous three years there had been 10 motorcycling accidents resulting in serious injury in the vicinity of the picturesque loch, representing a staggering 20 per cent of all such incidents in the region. Nearly all the casualties involved riders from outwith the Borders.
Riders from the motorcycle section of Lothian and Borders Police, under the command of Chief Inspector Sandy Allan, began visiting recognised biker “stops” along the length of the A708: part of a 95-mile circular trail including the Crook Inn, Peebles and back to Selkirk.
They also targeted the so-called Reivers Run, encompassing Jedburgh, Bonchester Bridge, Newcastleton and Hawick, sharing their skills with the visiting bikers and passing on local knowledge to encourage safe riding.
At the same time, an Around The Corner website was launched to pass on up-to-date information to the group considered most at risk: computer literate males, aged 35-55. using large capacity machines on rural roads.
“This is really a campaign by bikers for bikers, encouraging safe riding by utilising a believable peer group [police riders] and interactive technology to enforce the safety message,” said Mr Allan, now retired from the force but co-ordinator of Around The Corner.
After attending the award ceremony in London’s plush Savoy Hotel, he told us: “When this campaign was first devised the goal was to reduce casualties in the Borders and we have seen a 50 per cent reduction in serious accidents here since then.
“It was a complete change of tack to use police motorcyclists, who are universally held in high regard within the biker community, to share their skills. This instantly broke down barriers and raised awareness of local roads and road safety.
“I am delighted to accept this award, but even more pleased that the lessons we learned in the Borders have led to measures which are now implemented across the country, helping to cut needless deaths and injuries.”
The Around the Corner website (www,aoundthecorner.org.uk) is regularly updated and offers local information, riding tips, weather reports and current road conditions including road works.