Writing a riding tip - what detail is
Some time ago I mentioned a rather depressing e-mail discussion I
had with a visitor to the website back at the tail end of the
summer. To cut a long story short, he sent me an e-mail about a
police rider training school, and suggested I look at their site
because they were, in his opinion, the best. We got involved over a
couple of rounds of mail in a discussion about riding tips on their
site and I pointed out to him what I thought was a weakness in
presentation in their tip on roundabouts.
In my opinion, it left unsaid important safety messages whilst
advocating a straight line "kerb/kerb/kerb" route. I explained how I
would write the same tip and why (and it has since appeared in this
In particular the aspects of rear observation and not interfering
with other road users was something that I felt was glossed over in
their tip with a passing reference. I made this an important part of
my version. Somewhat to my surprise, he sent this message onto the
training school for their comments. In essence they agreed pretty
much on the overriding need for safety (not surprising seeing as we
are both essentially teaching safe riding), but not on the need for
that degree of detail in the tip - they stated that they covered
that if you took an actual course.
Well, the question I have to ask is why not cover it in the tip? If
you write a tip what's the point in giving half the information? The
danger is that that not every rider will grasp the point
intuitively. I try to write a tip on my site so as to cover EVERY
concern in detail, even if, as has been mentioned to me in the past,
that makes for a longwinded read. I don't assume, because as one of
my students said to me, that makes an ASS out of U and ME!
The article generated several comments about the risks of placing
incomplete information before people. Ian Davies said: "Recently I
was sitting in on a lecture for new riders preparing for their DSA
test. The course (run by the local BMF) is of course run entirely by
volunteers, but one OHP which they used to explain right turns at
roundabouts had what I considered to be an error on it.
"I questioned this, which then sparked a discussion. It took 15-20
minutes of discussion before it was decided that [it actually was an
error on the OHP].
"My Point: If you don't explain everything in detail there are
people who will not pick up on what you meant, or what you said. In
this instance it was me... You should always explain these matter in
detail, especially when they are on view to the public, and people
may try them WITHOUT doing the course. If I had followed my
interpretation of this instruction I would have been missing a vital
part of the test!"
Thanks Ian, for confirming my thoughts (Ian has experience as a
lecturer in further education by the way). So I make no further
apology for what might seem long winded or obvious tips - there is
always someone out there to whom the information is new.