Road Safety News
 

Crash cushion developed to improve biker safety

Wednesday 25th August 2010

A product comprising crash cushions strapped to potentially lethal roadside objects has been developed to improve biker safety.

Biker Mate was designed by Signpost Solutions in response to DfT figures showing that between 2003 – 2007 there were 250 fatalities and 880 serious injuries where motorcyclists collided with traffic poles, lighting columns, or telegraph poles. Signpost Solutions says that the product is low cost, easy to install and maintenance free.

Alan Nicholas, Signpost Solutions’ sales and marketing director, said: “It could theoretically be deployed on any dangerous free standing roadside structure, and there is no reason why, in further developments, a flat version cannot be designed for fitting to other vulnerable sites, such as bridges, brick walls or even the most dangerous of roadside objects – trees.”

Biker Mate will be exhibited at the Road Safety GB conference in November.

Click here for more information or call Signpost Solutions on 0121 506 4770.

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Malcolm. You are right in that some objects can focus one's visibility whilst riding a bike. In my experience they are mainly dung, soil, bricks, wood, tyres, other parts of vehicles that have fallen off [my mate ran over a vehicle front skirt that had fallen off a car several cars in front of him recently] grass mowings, leaves, ice, water, gravel [particularly loose and freshly laid and not bedded in as they used to be], litter, dead animals and birds, the list goes on. But I have never been, to my mind, fixated on a road sign or other street furnishing UNLESS its in my path. I have always managed to avoid them.

Perhaps you would wish to advocate the removal of all chevrons on bends or alternatively replace them with hawthorn or brick coloured ones?
bob craven Lancs

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Thank you for the responses to my comments below. Dave (Leeds), yes, I will take that on the chin, you fall off a bike you will certainly hit the road but you only may hit a lamp post. Not sure about cost-effectiveness, let me think about that one please. Mark (Wiltshire) I am deeply touched by your very kind comments and at the end of a hectic week they are most acceptable, thank you very much. I would be happy to tell you about Class-One Training so please send me an e-mail address and I will attach a word document with the details and return it. I totally missed this TV programme you mentioned. Please let me know which channel the put it out and I may be able to get a copy on a DVD. Here's my e-mail address roy.buchanan@sutton.gov.uk
Roy Buchanan, Sutton

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I can understand the comments made by all contributors.

However, one said that once the rider is unseated he has no control over where he goes. During my WYLIWYG research it became apparent that there are some features in the road/streetscape that can inadvertently introduce the phenomenon of 'focussing' on these objects; where a rider failing to maintain effective control through a hazard focuses on an object and ends up colliding with it, thus ending up going where he is looking.

The WYLIWYG system was developed to try and refocus a rider's gaze into the vanishing point and away from these other objects.

The adding of a crash cushion coloured with highly contrasting black and yellow stripes, could be counterproductive and focus the rider's gaze to it.

Perhaps in these circumstances an inoccuous colour allowing the cushion to blend into the background could be a measure to avoid the focussing phenomenon.
Malcolm H James - Devon

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Roy: thank you again for your informed comments on this site. Your views are clearly based on many years experience in an operational role, and very sound logic. I can't really think of how your suitability as an RSO could be called into question. Road safety, highways engineering, education and skills development, are moved forward by, among other things, incisive debate and informed opinion. Your informed comment and evaluation of modern road safety practice are among the finest I have ever read. It is a privilege to read your comments and responses (long may you continue). You present a very compelling arguments to support your position. Your position on the need for highly trained roads policing officers (cars & motorcycles) is but one example. The documentary series 'Emergency Bikers' first shown on TV on Weds 21st July clearly shows the professionalism and excellence of our police and paramedic bike units doing a job that is 100% needed. In many ways this programme provides the rationale to support your position - the job being done couldn't be carried out by anything other than a highly trained professional individual.

I would be very interested to read any comments you might like to make on any developments in the training and development of class 1 drivers and riders. How does the training now compare with what was delivered in decades gone by? What is your opinion of the training and development delivered to police riders and drivers at the standard level? How does this compare with that elsewhere, such as the Californa Highway Patrol? Have you any thoughts or ideas on curriculum development in this area that could be applied in the UK? I realise I've asked a lot of questions, this is an incredibly interesting subject area. Advancing the education, development and skill of emergency services riders and drivers, and of course, others will save lives. At the end of the day that's what It's all about.
Mark - Wiltshire

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Ah Roy, but if you come off the bike you are pretty sure of hitting the ground which is why wearing suitable riding kit is sound advice. Hitting anything else however is fairly long odds and depends on many variables.
I don't think we do blame motorcyclists for being motorcyclists. But I think we can attribute fault to them when they speed excessively, ride inappropriately or antisocially and leave no room for error, be it their own or someone elses. Each of these cushions is about £300, which is about 2 fully funded rider training places or a few hours of roads policing enforcement. Which is the most cost effective resource?
Dave, Leeds

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This interesting debate raises a smile. Several commentators have made the point that is better not to fall off the bike in the first place. True; but when I use this argument in discussing protective clothing, my suitability to be an RSO is drawn into question. This seems anomalous, would you not agree?
Roy Buchanan Sutton

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Whilst I concur with many of the previous statements I ask why so much money, millions of pounds, have been spent on providing safe roads for the apparent protection of the vulnerable pedal cyclists - and the same people argue that motorcyclists should not receive any specialist considerations.

Many motorcyclists will never ever find out the hard way how damaging coming into contact with tarmac or vehicles or road furniture can be. Some will be at fault of that there is no doubt but others will be unlucky enough to be the victim of someone elses actions.

Now instead of blaming the motorcyclist for perhaps being motorcyclists one should look at further training not only of riders but also of car, van,bus, taxi,coach,waggon drivers etc. as well.

It is a stupid belief that two wheeled riders are only some 1% of the road population and therefore dont count,
I drove 120 miles on August bank holiday monday and i would suggest that the proportional figure of motorcyclist was about 10%, yes one in ten vehicles was a motorcycle or scooter,on the roads i drove.

I do know that many authorities spend a lot of time and monies attempting to reduce the number of killed and seriously injured two wheeled riders and i applaud what they do.

This protection should be considered on its own merits as a further posibility so save lives.

Thats what u are all about isnts it.
bob craven Lancs

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Surely the message to motorcyclists, as indeed to all others motor vehicle drivers, should be to read the road conditions ahead and drive correctly in accordance with the highway code. Placing cushions around lamp standards is not the answer. Driver education is!
Peter Roffey, Leicestershire

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I think Bob, Rob and Dave all make valid points. As an active motorcyclist riding big bikes for many years I can identify with the views of the other respondents.

We can't surround every piece of roadside furniture with a safety barrier designed specifically for motorcyclists.

Local authorities could review the IHIE guidlines (advice and information on the design of roads and associated infrastructure specific to powered two wheeler needs) on the design of roads and the positioning of roadside furniture. They could also look at the results of the nationwide Euro RAP survey. The most potentially dangerous roadside objects identified by the appropriate assessment criteria could then be considered for the deployment of crash cushions such as the type described.

The most effective solution is, of course, for riders not to lose control of their machines and collide with roadside objects in the first place. The most effective route to helping riders in this respect, is education and riding skills development. The difficulty is in persuading riders to get involved with the first rate opportunities that are out there. This is where novel marketing ideas and public relations comes in.
Mark - Wiltshire

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I think it is more important to put resources into keeping the rider on the bike in the first place. Given the thousands of miles of road and the thousands of things along them you can hit it seems unlikely you'll put this round the correct one. In addition the most likely thing a rider will hit is another vehicle. Once a rider is unseated it is largely down to luck, or lack or it, how they land and what happens to them. If they stay upright and on the bike however they have a far better chance. Although perhaps Norfolk CC will be interest in these for the trees?!
Dave, Leeds

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I am sorry to say but I look at this from the other side of the fence. the roads are not a race track and if the biker was going at the correct speed in the first place he would not be having a problem. We can not go around putting crash cuchions at every tree, lamp post and bridge to protect every biker that thinks he is rossie on the road. The other side is the safer they think they are the faster they will go, they do not buy fast bikes to go slow the answer is training and education. I am sure the strapped for cash councils out there will jump at the chance to put tyre walls at every roundabout to make it look even more like a race track for bikes to think they are on that race track.
Rob Parry - Cornwall

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Nice to see that someone is developing something specifically for motorcyclists.

If as much monies had been spent on safety for motorcyclists than has been spent on cyclist many of whom now ride on the pavements anyway,then this might have been developed many years ago.

Its not just the trees that are a danger as expressed but any signage that has a post can inflict serious injury on a two wheeled rider. Maybe someone in there right mind will realise that cheesewire is dangerous and all those posts holding up the crash barriers on motorways. The need is for some form of skirt over and down to the ground other covering so that any person thrown from a bike would just slide along it and suffer less injury, instead of being flung around like a rag doll. Breaking arms and legs.

I have often seen racing motorcyclists slide away from their machines and slowed down on thick gravel I think that that would be a good idea for roundabouts instead of all the aesthetically pleasing but visually obstructing trees and bushes and flowers that are now considered as a standard requirement. All very nice to look at but all a visual hazard and dangerous. Also perhaps several thicknesses of tyres [there plenty of used ones around] which when tied together becomes a soft barrier absorbing impact and reducing injury thereby.

We need motorcyclists to have more say in what would protect them best.

They are only a very small percentage of traffic [except on a dry sunday when most accidents happen] but very vulnerable and in all circumstances that vulnerability should be taken into account. They are not all lunatics out there.
Bob Craven - Lancs

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