Highways England (HE), the company responsible for running over 4,000 miles (6,437km) of England’s motorways and major trunk roads, is to become the third partner in a landmark collaboration to improve motorcycle rider safety in the UK.
The government-owned company will join the National Police Chiefs’ Council (NPCC) and the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) as an equal partner in facilitating practical changes to roads, set out in a jointly written whitepaper: Realizing the Motorcycling Opportunity A Motorcycle Safety and Transport Policy Framework.
The Framework calls for motorcycles and scooters to be included in mainstream transport policy and for rider safety to be consistently factored into national road design, which has not been the case in the past. HE has a goal of bringing the number of people killed or injured on the strategic road network (SRN) as close as possible to zero by 2040. It will work with police and MCIA across seven areas identified in the Framework, and will lead on ‘safer infrastructure’.
The Framework advocates using guidelines produced by the Institute of Highway Engineers (IHE) that identify simple practical steps to reduce risks for riders, including:
Using rider friendly barriers and road surfaces;
Removing unnecessary signage;
Using non-slip manhole covers;
Prompt clear up of diesel spillages.
HE will also work to promote safety messages and create awareness about motorcycles and scooters. The agency has already set up a working party to encourage learner riders to take further training for a license, and to encourage motorcyclists to wear personal protective clothing. The number of motorcycles and scooters licensed for the roads has nearly doubled in the past 20 years, and government statistics show that there was a further 1.2% increase for the fourth quarter of 2015 (October to December).
With congestion set to rise, it is likely many more people will opt for two-wheel transport and HE, the NPCC, and the MCIA believe this choice needs to be properly supported.
“Safety is our top priority, and we believe no one should be harmed when travelling or working on our road network,” said Mike Wilson, HE’s chief highways engineer.
“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.”
Deputy Chief Constable for North Yorkshire Police Tim Madgwick, who is the national motorcycle lead for the NPCC, commented, “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 both Highways England and the Motorcycle Industry Association, 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. In addition to the safety aspect, encouraging greater use of motorcycles will also contribute greatly to reducing congestion and therefore journey times across the country.”