Roads set to become safer for motorcyclists as government agency commits to rider safety

Paul Taylor
By Paul Taylor
platinum_paul ex-BikeSocial Production Editor turned freelancer. Worked in bike industry for 15 years, gets fatter and slower every year. Unhealthy obsession with Honda C90s, top boxes and small bikes.

Highways England, the government owned company that is responsible for running over 4000 miles of English motorways and major trunk roads, has joined forces with the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) to make roads safer for riders of powered two-wheelers.

The NPCC and MCIA had previously prepared a white paper called ‘Realising the Motorcycling Opportunity: A Motorcycle Safety and Transport Policy Framework’ which called for motorcycles and scooters to be considered when designing roads, as this has not usually been the case in the past. Highways England will join as an equal partner in facilitating changes outlined in the paper, which should result in safer roads for riders. 

Seven key areas have been identified, which would make roads safer for riders, along with actions as to how this can be achieved practically. These include safer infrastructure, expanding road user education, increasing awareness and training and working in partnership with cycle groups.

For too long, motorcyclists have been at the bottom of the pecking order in terms of priority for traffic management and road planners

Karen Cole, Motorcycle Industry Association

Highways England has a goal of bringing the number of people killed or injured on the strategic road network as close as possible to zero by 2040. It will work with police and MCIA across all seven areas identified in the Framework and will lead on ‘safer infrastructure’. This promises to include the adoption of ‘rider friendly’ barriers and road surfaces, as well as the repositioning of roadside furniture and better management of diesel spills and the use of non-slip manhole covers.

Karen Cole

Karen Cole (pictured), Director of Safety and Training at the MCIA 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.”

Mike Wilson, Highways England’s Chief Highways Engineer, added: “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 both 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.”  

Highways England will also work to promote safety messages and create awareness about motorcycles and scooters, since education of all road users is an important element of the programme. 

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