Bikers donate their jackets for a worthy cause

6 January 2016
Each year motorcyclists from all over Australia kindly donate their old jackets to those in need, giving them to homeless community members in Sydney.

Winter in Australia can be bitingly cold, especially for those who don’t have a home to go to. Each year motorcyclists from all over Australia kindly donate their old jackets to those in need, giving them to homeless community members in Sydney.

The AMCN Winter Jacket Drive, organised by Australian Motorcycle News (AMCN), Mission Australia, and Shannon’s Insurance, is an annual event and does a great deal to help those without a home to get through the coldest winter nights.

The organisation was pleased with the outcome of the jacket drive, with AMCN reporting that for the first time over the five year history of the event, they had enough jackets to meet the demand for them.

According to Mission Australia, cold weather causes a spike in demand for its services – particularly true this year with Sydney suffering bitterly cold weather.

“Our service is flat chat most of the time, but during rainy and cold weather, we really struggle to meet demand. We get calls both from people sleeping rough who are seeking shelter and warmth but also from concerned members of the public,” Mission Australia CEO Catherine Yeomans said. “We aren’t sure why the numbers are increasing but certainly the cold weather makes what is a difficult life even harder.”

It’s a difficult life that comes at a high social cost; a research report earlier this year (The Cost of Youth Homelessness in Australia) found that young people make up approximately 42% of the Australian homeless population. Being homeless made youth more likely to leave school early, making it far more difficult to secure future employment. This has long-term implications for financial security and psychological wellbeing.

Estimations are that there are approximately 44,000 young Australians under the age of 25 who are homeless.

Motorcycle jackets perfect weather protection

It makes sense for the jackets to be donated, as motorcycle jackets are made to protect, as well as keep the wearer dry and warm.

As well as this, the jackets have a great deal of padding, which can make sleeping rough that little bit more comfortable.

They were certainly needed on the day that crews distributed them at a Homeless Connect event, and under the Woolloomooloo Bridge (where many homeless people reside). According to those who were there, it was raining heavily and there was a strong cold wind blowing through.

Those who donated parted with a beloved item, as many bikers treasure their jackets; however, it was still a small price to pay in order to keep someone else warm and dry through the coldest months of the year.

Jacket collection points were located in motorcycle dealerships and Shannon’s Insurance offices all over the country. The organisations involved greatly appreciated the ‘mountain of donations’ they received, and credited the success of the endeavour to the generosity of everyone who donated.

Jacket design: The ins and outs

Motorcycle jackets aren’t just for good looks – they are primarily designed for comfort and safety. According to Canstar Blue’s recent survey of more than 400 motorbike riders, comfort/fit and degree of protection were the driving forces for the choice of jacket, accounting for 33% and 29% of respondents respectively. And those surveyed are prepared to pay for the right jacket, with an average spend of $355.

So what are some of the safety features incorporated into the design of a jacket?

A good jacket will have thicker or tougher material on injury risk zones – the areas that are most vulnerable in the event of an accident.

The elbows, shoulders, and back of a jacket are the zones of highest risk on the upper body, and jackets often have extra protection in these areas.

As well as being reinforced in the right areas, jackets are made of thick protective material that is stitched together in specific ways; a general rule when it comes to seams on a jacket is ‘the less, the better’.  Seams may pop open in the event of a fall, so it is better to have only as many as needed in order to keep the jacket together.

There are also requirements when it comes to the stitching. The seams need to have at least one row of concealed stitching to hold the seam together after the visible stitching has been worn away against the road surface.

Additionally, leather jackets should have 11-14 stitches every 5cm, while textiles need more, with 13-16 stitches in the same length.

All of these regulations are small things that make up larger safety measures to keep motorcyclists safe in their jackets.

Zips are another design element that needs to be carefully placed on a jacket.  Some zones on the jacket should not have zippers, as they have potential to increase injury to the wearer. The same goes for other decorations such as buckles – a piece of metal impaling your chest is the last thing you’d want in the event of an accident.

The design of a jacket also varies for men and women. Most commonly, women’s jackets are not only made in smaller sizes, but are made to be larger in the bust and smaller in the waist. This is to make them more form fitting, as a jacket should be for optimum protection.

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