A Motorcycle Safety and Transport Policy Framework
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.
We will seek to encourage the implementation of local authority motorcycling plans, both within safety strategies, but also as part of their plans for transport.
Transport safety remains a key concern at local authority level, with authorities often at the sharp end of motorcycle safety issues.
A recommendation of the 2005 Government’s Motorcycling Strategy was that they should ‘recommend 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 and scooters 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’s Motorcycling Strategy.
The Institute of Highways Engineers, with support from the DfT and industry, have recently updated the guidelines and published them on-line during 2014. This in effect provides the guidance that is needed as part of this Framework in some key areas. The IHE asserts that ‘Motorcycles need to be part of core transport policies’ and that the objective of the guidelines is to improve safety through engineering and integration.
The guidelines cover the following areas (among others):
- Policy: Motorcycles have long provided a legitimate, cost ¬effective and relatively low-polluting form of transport for commuting, work or leisure purposes. However, their riders are susceptible to injury. Policy makers, planners, road designers and maintenance engineers have sometimes overlooked their specific safety needs. Raising awareness of those requirements among these professionals is crucial and these guidelines are a step in that direction.
- Road Design and Traffic Engineering: Road designers and traffic engineers need to understand how some design features, benign to other road users, can present a particular hazard to motorcyclists.
- It is important to keep exploring new ideas and trialling initiatives, despite any perceived controversy. For example, in 2012 Transport for London granted motorcyclists permanent access to bus lanes on the majority of the city’s red routes in what may, at the time, have been perceived as a bold move.
- Traffic calming measures can be very effective in reducing the number of injury collisions, especially in residential areas. Motorcyclists are no more exempt from the intended effects of traffic calming than any other road user and, arguably, suffer disproportionately from the unintended effects. Such unintended effects can seriously compromise safety.
- Road Safety Campaigns: Road safety campaigns are a vital component to improving the safety record of motorcyclists. Attitudes play a major role in determining rider behaviour, irrespective of age or trip purpose. Measures designed to influence behaviour must address these attitudes and take account of the spirit and individuality often expressed in choosing a motorcycle as a mode of travel. Road users respond better to messages that relate to their own perspective and are likely to ignore general ‘must do’ or ‘must not do’ messages.
- Travel Plans: A Travel Plan is an access strategy used to manage multi¬modal access to the workplace. It encourages modal shift from single-occupancy private cars by improving alternative travel options and promoting wider use of sustainable transport. Incentives and disincentives to persuade and support people to use alternative commuter modes can often achieve this.
- Motorcycles are an affordable alternative mode of transport where public transport provision is weak or non-existent and where distances make walking and cycling unrealistic. Consequently, motorcycling should be a common feature of all Travel Plans.
- Road Safety Audits: Statutory obligations aside, good highway and traffic engineering practice separates safety auditing and user auditing. The latter focuses on improving infrastructure provision for sustainable modes in order to encourage modal shift. However, it is good practice for safety auditors to take a multi-modal approach to the process, giving special attention to safety implications for vulnerable road users such as equestrians, cyclists and pedestrians. Motorcyclists sometimes have a lower profile in this ‘vulnerable user’ category because their higher speeds may lead auditors to push them into the same group as twin-track motor vehicles. This is a serious misunderstanding. The dynamics of motorcycles and vulnerability of their riders make motorcycling a unique mode within the traffic mix which requires separate and informed consideration by designers and auditors.
Local Authority Partnerships
The first edition of the Framework attracted the attention of Northamptonshire County Council who wanted to implement the Framework in its entirety with the aim of establishing a modal shift towards motorcycling.
As a result the Motorcycle Northants initiative has been launched (see Appendix A) and continues to work towards gaining a modal shift on the counties roads.
- The IHE Guidelines will become an integral part of this Framework’s resources.
- To determine with DfT how these guidelines can be most effectively disseminated and promoted by both government and others.
- Specific further action with local authorities to be developed.
- To utilise the Highways England Regional Safety Coordinators to undertake motorcycle related initiatives.
UPDATE – Action 7 – To Work With Local Authorities and Enhance Their Role in Motorcycling
Northamptonshire County Council have embraced this framework and are implementing a strategy for motorcycle safety and use. This initiative called ‘Motorcycle Northants’ covers areas of rider training, promotional activity, Wheels to Work and infrastructure design and planning. This partnership has been extremely successful so far and we are delighted that a local authority has expressed the desire to include motorcycles in the travel choices work streams.
MCIA met with the Principal Transport Policy Officer and the Road Safety Officer from East Riding of Yorkshire Council who offered constructive feedback on the Local Authority elements of the strategy. As a result of these discussions, East Riding of Yorkshire Council were able to provide feedback as to their areas of support for the actions within the strategy. This will be helpful when working specifically on the actions as they provided examples of working practices in their area. We will consider contacting other Councils for similar feedback over the coming 12 months
Transport for London have published infrastructure guidance which complements the IHE guidance and sets this into a London context.
We have opened discussions with Transport for Greater Manchester.
Other local authority actions are under consideration.