A new partnership is calling for motorcycles and scooters to be included in mainstream transport policy and for rider safety to be consistently factored into national road design.
The partnership, formed of Highways England, the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA), made the call in a jointly authored whitepaper: ‘Realising the Motorcycling Opportunity: A Motorcycle Safety and Transport Policy Framework’.
The framework identifies seven key areas which ‘would make roads safer for riders’, along with practical actions as to how this can be achieved. These include: safer infrastructure, expanding road user education and increasing awareness and training.
It incorporates the ‘safe system approach’ which, the partners say, is now ‘widely accepted’ as a guiding principle among road safety professionals. This is underpinned by the understanding that humans are fallible and will make mistakes, which can be mitigated through ‘forgiving’ design.
The first edition of the framework was launched by the NPCC and MCIA in 2014, following acknowledgement from police and motorcycle road safety experts that the only way to reduce vulnerability of riders was to properly incorporate their use and needs into mainstream transport planning.
With congestion continuing to rise, the partnership says it is likely many more people will opt for two wheel transport – therefore with new partner Highways England, it has produced an updated version of the framework.
The new framework also advocates unlocking the benefits of motorcycles and demonstrating exactly how they offer a practical solution to congestion, as well as improving personal mobility for people without access to other forms of transport.
Mike Wilson, Highways England’s chief highways engineer, said: “Safety is our top priority and we believe no one should be harmed when travelling or working on our road network.
“We are committed to reducing the number of motorcycle incidents and casualties on our roads and to improving the experience motorcyclists have on those roads; this influential partnership with the industry and police supports that commitment.”
Deputy chief constable, Tim Madgwick, national motorcycle lead for the NPCC, said: “The police service is on the front line, dealing with the devastation that is caused to families and the greater community by road traffic collisions.
“The opportunity to work with Highways England and the MCIA gives us far greater scope to make our roads a safer place, not only for those who use powered two wheelers, but for all road users.”
Karen Cole, MCIA director of safety and training, said: “Highways England brings significant resource to this ambitious project; financially and in terms of influence, expertise and evidence-based decision making; add this to police backing and we have an unprecedented opportunity to make a huge difference to riders.
“For too long, motorcyclists have been at the bottom of the pecking order in terms of priority for traffic management and road planners.
“Often ‘safety advice’ is a thinly veiled attempt to keep people off motorbikes and scooters, rather than a genuine attempt to reduce their vulnerability. It is important to recognise the transport choice of riders and address their needs appropriately. Ignoring motorcyclists increases their vulnerability.”