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Northamptonshire becomes first UK council to actively encourage motorcycling

Thursday 16th June 2016

Northamptonshire County Council is being acclaimed by the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) as the first UK council to actively encourage a modal shift towards motorcycling.

Through its Motorcycle Northants project, the council is seeking to increase the 0.4% of commuter traffic currently represented by motorcyclists in the county, aiming for an initial shift of 3%.

Measures to be introduced as part of the project include introducing motorcycle friendly infrastructure on roads and working with employers to improve workplace changing facilities and motorcycle parking.

The council will use Ride to Work Week (20-26 June) to highlight the benefits of commuting via motorcycle or scooter and has produced a video showing why this decision ‘makes sense’.

Motorcycle Northants is part of a wider initiative to encourage the use of sustainable transport options such as cycling, walking and public transport, in a bid to reduce congestion in the county.

Each day in Northamptonshire, an estimated 43% of commuter journeys are made by just one person in a car or van; as such, the council says there is great potential for some of these to be made on a powered two wheeler. It points to a European study showing that if 10% of car drivers swapped to a motorcycle, scooter or moped, congestion for all road users is reduced by 40%.

John Spencer, team leader of road safety and travel choices, Northamptonshire Highways, said: “As part of our modal shift strategy Northamptonshire County Council intends to embrace motorcycles and scooters as a sustainable transport mode within the future countywide transport programme.

“Greater use of motorcycles can bring environmental, congestion and accessibility benefits, particularly on journeys made for commuting to places of employment or education.

“The road safety team in Northamptonshire is committed to improving safety for all road users but is also looking at encouraging different ways to travel. In 2015 we carried out a motorcycle survey to reaffirm why people were using motorbikes, but also why they were not.

“We collaborate with various partners to encourage people to take up motorcycling as a safe, sustainable and better way of getting around.”


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Let's also bear in mind that motorcyclist/scooter riders are between 36 and 50 times more likely to be involved in a KSI than car drivers. I would not like to hazard a guess at the stats between them and commuters on buses. It's all very well promoting motorcycling as opposed to other forms of transport but what one needs also is a coherent training plan with regard to their safety. It's no use putting a helmet on a car driver and plonking him on a bike, it just doesn't work that way. We are finding that out with cyclists. It needs some thought and planning otherwise we will just be encouraging the carnage. We have heard of measures that might be taken regards to greater in depth training but as yet nothing has materialised.
R.Craven. Blackpool

Agree (2) | Disagree (0)
+2

Superb! I commute by m/c every day and regularly suffer drivers who begrudge my ability as a rider to filter between the rows of standing traffic. If only they would get the idea that if I wasn't filtering, I would be driving and they would be further back in the queue they are stuck in. The more you encourage people off 4 wheels on to two (powered or unpowered) the shorter your 4 wheeled commute will become; and quite markedly so. Practical studies as well as computer models have already proved this time and again.
Andy M, Wiltshire

Agree (5) | Disagree (0)
+5

Brilliant, a council sees sense. Shorter commuting time, much less congestion, much less pollution, less environmental damage in the production of a mode of transport, less energy in the production. Let's hope the infrastructure is there to support PTWs. Now if only other authorities will follow this example.
Dave Wigham

Agree (6) | Disagree (0)
+6

I am afraid that I have always felt that anonymous posters, whether they give their forename or none at all have little credibility with me. I also note that such anonymous commenters also usually complain of not being taken seriously.
Rod King Cheshire, 20's Plenty for Us

Agree (4) | Disagree (6)
-2

'Withheld' is my chosen name 'Keith' of Northampton. As someone who rides a PTW daily all defects and potholes I come across are reported through Street Doctor to the point where it seems to be my unpaid public duty to do so. I will agree that many of Northamptonshire's major roads are indeed excellent to ride on. Some are even mentioned as being so in the motorcycling press. Perhaps I am being unfair? However, this article is about encouraging a "modal shift towards motorcycling", commuting, and reducing congestion. I assume that to mean town traffic, industrial estates, retail parks, etc. Places where people go to work.

I challenge Keith to ride through Northampton itself on a regular basis. If you have a Street Doctor success rate of just "days", then it seems we could all do with your help. Try Weston Favell Centre roundabout (A4500/Billing Brook Rd). It is a main distributor road and the deep 'trenches' in the surface are a huge hazard to PTWs and cyclists. It has been so for many months now and will continue to be so until it is due to be fixed in August. Try Rutherford Drive in Park Farm, Wellingborough (watch out for the 'bomb crater'). Or, try practically anywhere through the middle of St. James, an area of Northampton whose roads are so woeful I would be ashamed to bring any guest riders and potential customers through it. All the above are retail, business, or industrial areas.

As for costs. Perhaps it would be cheaper to repair damaged roads than compensate damaged riders? I applaud Northamptonshire's efforts in promoting a shift to two wheel commuting and merely suggest they would be more successful by ensuring their roads are good roads to ride on.
Withheld, Northampton

Agree (3) | Disagree (2)
+1

Motorcycling is great and I commute when I can. It's 30-40% quicker once on the road but, please take into account putting on and off riding equipment and the frequent desire to take the long way home. Potholes, general road surface and debris like grit at junctions are something councils throughout the land need to deal with. Overall, the roads are in poor condition and this includes motorways where, crossing a 20mtr long, 8cm deep gash between lanes, can be challenging for riders. Filtering is legal and provided motorcyclists ride and drivers drive with consideration it's an ideal way to get about.
David, South London / Sussex

Agree (5) | Disagree (0)
+5

I am surprised that comments have been posted by a person who has 'withheld' their name. I travel around the country and the roads in Northamptonshire are a lot better than in many places. If the person has any issues with potholes then they should report any faults through the Street Doctor scheme. There is not a limitless pot of money to carry out repairs, but I have reported my faults through the scheme, many of which have been rectified within days.
Keith, Northampton

Agree (2) | Disagree (2)
0

It would be much easier to encourage road users onto motorcycles and scooters if they could be confident that road conditions in Northamptonshire were fit for purpose. Right now the number of potholes and poor road surfaces are not conducive with safe riding and not enough is being done to fix the problem.
Withheld, Northampton

Agree (3) | Disagree (0)
+3

Nice to see this. One council at last recognising what is in front of everyone else's faces. I hope that it picks up and that with support motorcyclists will take the opportunity to improve their abilities and safety.
R.Craven Blackpool

Agree (16) | Disagree (0)
+16