A Motorcycle Safety and Transport Policy Framework
Motorcycling is a mode of transport which should now be playing a key part in the Government’s transport strategy but to date has remained undeveloped in policy terms and users have been left vulnerable as a result. Poor public and institutional attitudes towards motorcycling has sustained an image of motorcycling as a dangerous activity.
The thrust of industry and user group activity from the 1990s has been towards developing a policy ‘Framework’ within which other safety and transport policy advances could be made. Core to this was a belief that the clear benefits of motorcycling to transport and society should be recognised, with this providing the basis from which motorcycle safety can be developed in a sustainable and holistic way.
Appropriate action henceforth should take the form of an extensive package of measures which integrate to deliver this motorcycle framework with clear actions for casualty reduction and the implementation of measures which reduce vulnerability and change attitudes.
Some positive actions have been taken at local authority level, but these are often piecemeal and consistency across the UK needs developing. A notable exception and a success of this framework, is that Northamptonshire County Council, has fully embraced motorcycling within transport policy. This positive action needs repeating nationwide.
Transport for London has conducted several major motorcycle initiatives and remains very active on motorcycle safety, and is only now beginning to recognise motorcycles as an important transport mode in London, despite the large number of motorcycle commuters. That said, during 2016 the MCIA have engaged TfL in new high level strategic discussions about motorcycling in London and we anticipate positive outcomes in the medium to long term.
The IHE Guidelines were well received but are not universally adopted by highways engineers, though in 2016 TfL did publish complementary guidelines aimed at London Boroughs.
The development of the police-led BikeSafe assessment scheme has been one area of very positive progress, but it remains largely unsupported. MCIA have assisted BikeSafe for over 10 years and more recently BikeSafe have received very welcome backing from Highways England who have provided 10 motorcycles for military and wider promotional use. In London BikeSafe is flourishing with financial support and backing from Transport for London, who offer BikeSafe in the capital through a partnership with the Metropolitan Police and this is an excellent example of best practice as the officers are used to great effect for both enforcement and education. However, there is still a pressing need for national support, with no central funding for BikeSafe from government and no statutory requirement for police forces to offer BikeSafe courses. Many police force areas currently have little or no BikeSafe capability. Government support and funding would ensure sustainability of the scheme.
However, the original aims of the industry’s safety and transport policy activity remain. This Framework offers an opportunity to set motorcycle safety into a context which will allow both the development of motorcycles as a recognised alternative to the car and unleash the potential offered by the implementation of industry/police/highway authority proposals which in turn will reduce incident numbers and rider vulnerability.
Highways England joining the MSTP partnership also marks a major turning point and an opportunity to embed motorcycle elements in a significant proportion of highways policy and practice.
In summary, progress is being made, but core to any motorcycle safety strategy is the full and proper recognition and support of motorcycles in overall transport policy. This is what will provide the impetus for a positive step change in motorcycle safety.