FOLLOWING ON FROM a conference in November 2013, hosted by the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) and the Association of Chief Police Officers (APCO), where road safety experts explored how more motorcycles could result in better safety for riders and safer roads for all, a landmark Motorcycle Safety and Transport Policy Framework document (MSTPF), entitled ‘Realising the motorcycling opportunity’, has now been published, encouraging greater use of powered two-wheelers in the UK.
Unveiled at a parliamentary reception in December 2014, ‘Realising the motorcycling opportunity’ calls for motorcycles to be included in mainstream transport policy and sets out a framework of practical recommendations, addressing how this might be achieved.
In a nutshell it outlines why motorised two-wheeled transport is a realistsic antidote to our congestion problems and how promoting motorcycle, moped and cycle usage can make our roads a safer place for all.
Although rider safety has improved considerably since the year 2000, motorcyclists currently make up just one per cent of traffic, yet account for 19 per cent of the fatality statistics, and the MSTPF document claims this could be further reduced with government support.
Both police and industry agree that traditional road safety policies directed at motorcycling will only partially deliver more positive outcomes for motorcycle safety beyond those already achieved. And surprisingly, both bodies agree that encouraging, rather than discouraging motorcycling, should contribute to better safety outcomes for motorcyclists and reduce them appearing in the statistics as a high risk group.
Data from Belgium shows that when a greater percentage of traffic is made up of motorcycles, mopeds or scooters, riders are less likely to be involved in an accident.
There is also a growing body of evidence which shows that if more people started their road careers on a motorcycle, scooter or moped, this would lead to improvements in driver behaviour towards all vulnerable road users, as it is acknowledged that motorcyclists make better road users when driving cars.
The Belgian study which modelled a shift from cars to motorcycles on one of the most congested roads in Europe, found that when just ten per cent of car drivers swapped to a powered two wheeler, congestion was reduced for all road users by 40 per cent.
The same test was conducted again, this time putting 25 per cent of drivers onto motorcycles, and congestion was eliminated altogether. Furthermore, given it is estimated that around 50 per cent of motorcycle accidents are initiated by other road users, the safety of those on two-wheels improved as a result.
Closer to home, it is anticipated that over the coming years increasing numbers of people will opt for two-wheeled vehicles as congestion/ parking charges rise and public transport becomes more expensive.
This only adds fuel to the MSTPF study’s convincing argument for the integration of motorcycle use into the core of transport policy planning, along with walking, cycling and public transport. And also for the introduction of government grants to promote the use of electric motorcycles.
EDUCATION & TRAINING
Some of the measures called for in the paper cover the improved education of road users, including; one theory test for all motorists (motorcyclists do a different one to car drivers), compulsory road user awareness lessons within the school curriculum and a culture of post-test training for drivers of all modes of transport.
As you would expect, the quality of two-wheeled training, safety and education play a significant part in raising rider standards, and is something that the Institute of Motor Industry (IMI) and the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) have been working towards through their accreditation system.
Measures to deal with inappropriate riding standards, with increased use of the existing RIDE scheme (a course for motorcyclists displaying anti-social behaviour), along with promotion of the police Bikesafe initiative, are also documented in the proposals.
As are clothing and safety wear, with an effort being made to get coherent standards that are simple to understand.
Finally, any rider that has experienced the dangers of poor road design and maintenance will be very pleased to know that the Institute of Highways Engineers, ‘Motorcycle Guide- lines’, which actively looks at motorcycle road safety in engineering terms, will be actively promoted.
So with all the major players now on the same page, let’s hope motorcycling will move swiftly forward and become a socially acceptable and positive mode of transport in today’s fast paced society!