A Motorcycle Safety and Transport Policy Framework
As described in Theme 1 Action 7 – To work with Local Authorities and enhance their role in motorcycling, Local authorities have a clear role to play in increasing road user awareness of motorcycles. This can best be achieved through local safety action plans, incorporating motorcycle use into their strategic plans for transport and ensuring that highways engineering follows the key principles of the Institute of Highways Engineers (IHE) Guidelines.
But key to this taking place will be the full support and promotion of the Guidelines by national, regional and local authorities. Those making and implementing policy on infrastructure will be encouraged to adopt the principles in the IHE Guidelines for Motorcycles as well as government mainstreaming motorcycle friendly infrastructure policy across the board. Highways England, as an active partner in this framework, are now in a position to proactively support the use of IHE Guidelines by endorsing their use on major schemes and recommending them to the wider road safety engineering community.
A recommendation of the 2005 Government’s Motorcycling Strategy was that ‘local authorities give proper consideration to appropriate provision for motorcyclists’.
As part of the local transport plan era, several authorities did create local action plans for motorcycle integration and safety. Several motorcycle forums were established and progress made in the direction of incorporating motorcycles into local plans. Such actions were unfortunately not widespread around the UK, so the road safety effect of these was not easy to measure.
In the 2000s, the then Institute of Highways Incorporated Engineers produced guidelines for local authorities aimed at mainly infrastructure policy, but also covering other areas. These Guidelines were featured in the 2005 Government strategy.
The IHE, with support from the DfT and industry have recently updated the Guidelines and published them online during 2014. This in effect provides the guidance that is needed as part of this framework in some key areas.
To maximise the opportunities that the guidelines offer, the DfT will need to offer much more overt support and overall promotion of the Guidelines. As a partial funder of the Guidelines, it is in the DfT’s interest to do so, in order to maximise the value for money of this public purse expenditure.
Highways England has traditionally been very positive about elements of motorcycle infrastructure policy that apply to the main roads network and played a positive part in the development of the 2005 Government Strategy.
Policy changes and design improvements significantly influence the experience of motorcyclists and impact on their safety. Highways England’s commitment to this framework and actions provide a new opportunity to embed these guidelines across its activity in support of the Government’s Roads Investment Strategy. Highways England’s 5 year Health and Safety Plan includes specific actions on motorcycle safety and ongoing work in delivering these actions, together with the implementation of a safe systems approach, will address many safety issues for motorcyclists.
A revision of the current Highways England route treatment guide is currently being commissioned and this presents a key opportunity to address motorcycle safety issues: The presence, location, size and construction of a wide variety of roadside furniture has long been understood to influence the outcomes for people involved in collisions off the carriageway. Motorcycle riders are relatively unprotected and significantly more susceptible to serious injury in any such collisions. The Highways England Star rated Safety Assessments of the network produces safety star ratings for routes, which offer a great opportunity to understand and influence situations where such collision risks are identified.
An example of this approach is a safety fence product that has been attached to vehicle restraint systems to improve the safety performance of these barriers when impacted by motorcyclists. Similarly, The Prince Michael Award Winning WYLIWYG (Where You Look Is Where You Go) has taken a well-established element of motorcycle training and applied it to physical infrastructure, with marker posts positioned in the verge indicating the full extent of the bend, influencing the rider’s decisions on approach speed, positioning and on what level of acceleration to exit the hazard.
Motorcycles and scooters need an even, consistent road surface to maintain stability and not lose traction. The very small tyre/road surface area of contact area of the two-wheeler makes skid-resistance very important particularly during acceleration, braking and cornering. A good quality and consistent road surface with suitable skid resistance is key. Overbanding materials with low wet skidding resistance and poor reinstatement works are common problems for motorcyclists, especially where a change of speed or direction is required. Pavement assessment methods used across Highways England road network, provide sizeable quantities of data on road surface skid-resistance and surface profile that inform ride quality.
Powered two wheelers are often involved in collisions where another vehicle has crossed the path of the bike. Such events usually result in injury for the rider in built-up areas (40 mph or less) but this very quickly translates to life-changing or fatal injuries on rural roads, where the national speed limits prevails. The layout of junctions, position of roadside furniture as well as carriageway markings all offer the opportunity to alter the information available to drivers and riders and thus alter behaviours at such junctions, significantly reducing the risk of a collision occurring.
There are a number of other factors which can affect safety; Intervisiblity, for example, can be a problem, particularly at junctions. Enhanced maintenance regimes or modifications to planting can reduce the risk of vegetation restricting visibility and restricting visibility splays. Temporary traffic management through road works is another area where policy should pay due consideration to motorcycle specific issues. Motorcycle friendly treatments such as these should be prioritised for popular motorcycle routes.
As connected and autonomous vehicle technology develops it will be important to ensure that the unique characteristics and dynamics of motorcycling are considered and this is explored further in Action 31 (To Encourage the Development of Safer Motorcycles and Equipment). Road studs which are capable of communicating with suitably equipped vehicles in order to warn of potential hazards are currently being trialled and it is essential that motorcyclists benefit from this type of new technology. As we take this Framework forward, we will work to ensure that data already routinely collected by Highways England along with detailed research into collisions becomes aligned with proven interventions of this type. This adoption and application of the Highways England ‘Safe Systems’ approach will be most effective for motorcycle casualty reduction.
- To encourage those making and implementing policy on infrastructure to use the IHE Guidelines for Motorcycles.
UPDATE – Action 24 – To Establish Better Roads Infrastructure Policy to Reduce Rider Vulnerability and Improve Accessibility
Highways England support the aims of this Framework and have become a full MSTP partner, along with the MCIA and the NPCC.
Highways England have made significant contributions to this edition of the MSTP Framework.
The principles of the IHE Guidelines were used to develop new Transport for London guidance on motorcycle friendly infrastructure.