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Are roads becoming safer for riders?

uk roads motorcycles and scooters congestion Are roads becoming safer for riders?

Road construction and road safety experts around the world are acknowledging that roads need to be designed with rider safety in mind, but only one country seems to be following the advice.

Highways England, the company responsible for running over 4000 miles (6400km) of England’s motorways and major roads, has joined a landmark collaboration to improve motorcycle rider safety.

The government-owned company will join the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) to make practical changes to roads.

It’s a welcome sign that authorities recognise the vulnerability of riders and are actually doing something about it.

A similar Austroads study in 2016, titled “Infrastructure Improvements to Reduce Motorcycle Casualties”, found that roads need to be better designed, funded and maintained to reduce the risk of motorcycle crashes.

Austroads Better roads report lane filtering Are roads becoming safer for riders?
Austroads report

However, there is no guarantee that Australian governments and road contractors will follow the many recommendations of the two-year study.

Meanwhile, in the UK, Highways England, the NPCC and the MCIA have identified seven areas which would make roads safer for riders, along with practical actions on how this can be achieved.

These include: safer infrastructure, expanding road user education, increasing awareness and training and working in partnership with cycle groups.

And it’s not just hollow platitudes, but actions.

Practical guidelines for road construction

Guidelines produced by the UK Institute of Highway Engineers identify simple practical steps to reduce risks for riders:

  • Using rider friendly barriers and road surfaces
  • Repositioning pillars
  • Removing unnecessary signage
  • Using non-slip man hole covers
  • Prompt clear up of diesel.

The suggestions are remarkably similar to the Austroad recommendations:

  • install flexible but durable materials or shields underneath barriers;
  • install attenuators or energy dissipaters on posts and poles;
  • relocate trees, poles, signs and other roadside objects;
  • recommended maximums for potholes, ruts and cracks before repair is vital;
  • rapid road repair including quick removal of oil, diesel and other spills;
  • fluoro warning signage at known crash zones;
  • better-designed crash barriers;
  • improve road surfaces for skid resistance, road camber, badly located drains, rough edges, etc; and
  • add advance stop lines at intersections with filtering lanes for motorcycles to reach the front of traffic.Wire rope barrier better roads austroads report

We can only hope those recommendations are taken up by Australian governments at all levels in their road construction programs.

Meanwhile, Highways England chief highways engineer Mike Wilson says they are committed to reducing the number of motorcycle incidents and “improving the experience motorcyclists have on those roads”.

“This influential partnership with the industry and police supports that commitment,” he says.

Not only are they planning to update roads to make riders safer, but also to encourage more people to ride.

The group will advocate “unlocking the benefits of motorcycles and demonstrate how they offer a practical solution to congestion, as well as improving personal mobility for people without access to other forms of transport”.

Isn’t it time more authorities recognised the benefits of making motorcycling safer? 

  1. Now that these recommendations exist and a responsible authority is claiming to implement them, some wise person in the accounts and ass covering department of who ever is responsible for implementing things here should realise that failure to follow suit will result in large compensation payments and big legal fees and possible prosecution. But we will probably get a halfassed feeble attempt that they think is just enough to avoid doing anything that doesn’t get them some kind of kickback.

  2. Forgive my cynicism but the Highways England have not committed to do anything specific, apart from join discussions with other related parties. They have no allocated budget to implement any major motorcycle-focused initiatives. This is no different to Australia. Look at the recent Oxley Highway safety initiative recommendations. Of the 7 specific recommendations contained in the report the only one that was implemented was the speed reduction. The cheapest, quickest and easiest way to be seen to be doing something and showing ‘progress’. All of the other recommendations which required thought, effort, major works and funding, and may have actually provided some safety benefits, have not been implemented and there seems to be no plan to do so.

  3. There is a danger of overdoing all of this complaining about the roads, and motorcyclists will become known as the whining sooks of the motoring world. Those who are long term riders (30+ years) will remember the days when you bought a bike that suited the conditions in which you rode, learnt how to ride it properly, and accepted that there is some danger in motorcycling. As the nanny-state mentality becomes more and more prevalent people are taking less and less responsibility for there own safety and looking for someone else to blame when something goes wrong.

    1. Bullshit! MotoRain
      When they( the authorities) come to take your motorcycle from you are you going to stand up or just take it up the A*SE. You sound like the people who say if you don’t speed you don’t get fined mentality.
      We motorcyclist do pay dearly through the nose for the roads eg petrol tax,rego fees,third party,personal tax etc. Roads hurt motorcyclist more than we hurt the roads.

      If you hit a pot hole that is in the middle of the line you took around a corner and this pot hole is there to bite your arse! big time whose responsibility is it, Oh! F**k you would say oh i should have stayed in bed today maybe tomorrow also.
      No it’s the RMS they have a duty of care to all road users.
      Report any little or major thing you see to the RMS you can find it on the web JUST DO IT.
      Sorry if I sound too hard but reality bites.

      1. Bullshit! Black Prince. You sound like one of the whining sooks of the motorcycling world. When you see a pothole you get scared and say “Ooh, I can’t ride in these conditions, it is too dangerous.” I certainly am not one of the people who say “if you don’t speed you don’t get fined.” In fact, I have always been a hard and wild rider and have been very vocal about the oppressive way in which the road rules are now enforced. I believe that motorcyclists should be given the freedom to use the performance and manoeuvrability of their bikes to enhance their own safety. This includes exceeding the speed limit for quick overtaking, being allowed to overtake where there are unbroken white lines, and doing U-turns in places where it currently is not permitted. I also believe that we should learn to cope with real-world road conditions and not expect special treatment, which is a sign of weakness. In other words, I want more freedom, but I don’t need to be treated like a special needs child. You are saying that you, as a motorcyclist, can’t cope with the same conditions that cars do because you are inferior.

        1. Moto Rain’s sentiments Trump Black Prince in my book. If I may use that Trump word. It’s about realism and accepting the rough with the smooth. I rode a hard tail Triumph Bonneville chop across the Negev desert in Israel once, before they built the road. Not much point complaining though; I just took it easy. I wrote a book about the trip – ‘Low Rider’ it’s up there on Kindle
          Ian Mutch Glastonbury England

  4. Armco & the wire rope and posts (as seen in article photo) are lethal for motorcyclists, sportscar drivers & cyclists.
    If you fall off, the posts chop your arms & legs off.

  5. Well! I finally got some comments.
    But sorry you all missed the point.
    So I cannot help you.

    Well, for you info, I am 68 years young, started ridding at 18, when helmets were an option and also motorcycles had front number plates, dirt roads the norm in my area.
    Had my share of English Bikes, 500cc singles, 650 cc Twins, Jap’s ,900 Kwaka’s etc, wrote a few off. But if you see a red 996 Ducati with the rider wearing a AC/DC helmet going around you waving it’s me.
    Happy trails

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