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more bikes means better safety, say industry and police

The MCIA and the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) have launched a policy document in Westminster to encourage greater use of motorcycles, which, they claim, should improve road safety.

Realising the Motorcycling Opportunity: A motorcycle safety and transport policy framework was devised by police and industry in response to the slowdown of reductions in rider casualties. 

Though rider safety has improved considerably since 2000, motorcyclists are still over-represented in road fatality statistics (one per cent of traffic, 19 per cent of fatalities).

The MCIA and Acpo believe this could be reduced with government support.

Both police and industry agree traditional road safety policies directed at motorcycling will only partially deliver more positive outcomes for motorcycle safety beyond those already achieved.   However, encouraging, rather than discouraging, motorcycling, should, it is claimed, contribute to better safety outcomes.

The document, which will be unveiled at a Parliamentary Reception hosted by the All-Party Parliamentary Motorcycle Group on Monday 8 December, calls for motorcycles to be included in mainstream transport policy and sets out a framework of practical recommendations addressing how this might be achieved.

The MCIA and Acpo believe that two-wheeled transport is the solution to congestion. 

A Belgian study, which modelled a shift from cars to motorcycles on one of the most congested roads in Europe, found that when just 10 per cent of car drivers swapped to a powered two wheeler, congestion was reduced for all road users by 40 per cent. When 25 per cent of drivers swapped, congestion was eliminated.

Over the coming years, it is likely increasing numbers of people will opt for two-wheeled vehicles, whether bicycles, fully motorised two-wheelers, or a cross between the two, say the MCIA and Acpo. “It is also likely some cyclists will migrate to motorised forms of two-wheeled transport and vice-versa.  The Government has an opportunity to tackle safety issues faced by all vulnerable road users in an integrated and therefore more cost effective way,” the organisations claim.  

The idea that more motorcycles on the road improves rider safety was initially based on European data, which showed 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.

“With around 50 per cent of motorcycle accidents initiated by other road users, an effective programme to raise awareness of all road users could considerably reduce the number and seriousness of incidents,” it was said. “There is 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.”

It is also acknowledged that motorcyclists make better road users when driving cars.

Steve Kenward, CEO of the MCIA, is clear that inclusion in transport policy is the only way forward to improve safety: “For too long, the Government, local authorities and transport planners seem to have deliberately avoided talking about motorcycle use, a practice which will increasingly fail as a method of reducing rider accidents.  Motorcycles need to be treated as a legitimate form of transport, which can save time, space and money for commuters, whilst having the added benefit of reducing congestion for all road users.”

For a fuller story, including some of the measures called for in the paper, see the January issue of British Dealer News.



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