He was almost speechless with anger when he caught up with me. I didn’t help the situation by being a cocky 19-year-old. The realisation began to hit home when I was written up for dangerous riding. The copper said I could be going to prison. This was not good news. I began to panic.

The next day I was interviewed at home, no tape running. I didn’t know the interview was in breach of all protocols, and I am eternally grateful to the copper who ‘nicked’ me. The interview consisted of him showing me a couple of selected photographs of dead motorcyclists, and it wasn’t pretty. He explained the mangled legs I saw were those of a young female passenger in a car who was paralysed by the impact of a bike slamming into the car at around 120mph in a 60 zone. The rider was dead, as was the driver. And a few choice Anglo Saxon words were thrown at me. I felt decidedly less heroic.

My cockiness was rapidly replaced by my trying not to throw up. I never heard another thing. No summons, no letter, nothing. My lesson had been well and truly learnt. My whole attitude to riding changed in about ten minutes. Luckily for me, my copper was an old school officer, and this was before the days of conviction targets. 1spend large parts of my day working with road traffic officers and you get to know how they work. Tiny plates and ear-bleeding cans are called a ‘nick me’. If you ride to something which looks like advanced standards, you can get away with a lot more.

But if the lights do go on, and you get tugged, the worst thing you can do is fail the attitude test. The first 15 seconds decides whether it is going to be a nicking or a warning and a producer. There is an unwritten rule; if the officer starts bollocking you, he won’t also nick you. Also, be aware that the police are much more intelligence led these days. A tug because your plate could not be read by an ANPR device is very likely. If you pass the attitude test, you’ll most likely get a rectification notice. Get into a righteously self-important rage and you can have your bike impounded.

Andrew Dalton
Bike Magazine December 2013