On 6th March 2019, Aston Villa Football Club became a hub of motorcycle buzz! It was the first ever Young Rider Focus conference, organised by FirstCar Media and Road Safety GB, organisers of the well-established, Young Driver Focus conference. This new one-day event for road safety professionals looked at the challenges of reducing collisions and casualties among young, inexperienced powered two wheeler (P2W) riders.

There are many who believe the young PTW rider sector is often overlooked, underfunded and under-represented within the road safety community so it was timely that the day was spent assessing the current situation and highlighting areas in which safety can be improved alongside better ways of engaging with young riders.

Alongside the conference ran a busy exhibition area with a diverse range of companies and organisations profiling their products and services. These included Airvest, Phoenix Motorcycle Training, BMW Rider Training, TSO, the British Motorcycle Federation and Essex Fire and Rescue Service. BMW Rider Training welcomed all delegates by the main entrance with one of their bikes on a rolling road and were active with delegates all day in spite of the rain that came down!

FirstCar Director, Richard Storrs, opened the conference and welcomed all delegates. David Davies from PACTS chaired the morning session covering why the safety of young riders is a problem, outlining the current barriers including research and policy options.

Dr Cris Burgess, Senior Lecturer in Psychology, University of Exeter, discussed the evolutionary downfalls in human performance which can help to explain why riders on two wheels are so vulnerable and how those limitations can be used to develop young riders confidence.

There were many more talks from industry experts on ways to improve research and specifically how training can be improved for young riders. This included Chief Constable Nick Adderley on what’s really changed for motorcycling and what hasn’t and the need to acknowledge, engage and educate young riders rather than being enforcement-led.

The afternoon session was chaired by Lembit Opik of Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) and delegates heard from speakers who many of the leading road safety practitioners, including Liz Brooker, MBE, Road Safety & Sustainable Transport Manager, Lewisham Council and Andy Strougler, RTC Reduction Manager, Essex County Fire & Rescue Service on their ‘Street Spirit’ campaign.

Harry Seaton, Director of Fluential, gave the final presentation of the day on ways in which influencers could be used to engage with a younger audience and how this could help to deliver road safety messages. Instagram stories was one example he used.

Young Rider Focus 2019 saw expert speakers from key stakeholders, academics and practitioners in the bike sector which combined to deliver an informative and thought-provoking conference. This ultimately got people discussing challenges and ideas on how to improve their work and projects in the young rider space.