A Motorcycle Safety and Transport Policy Framework
It is essential for safety that motorcycling is added to the ‘walking, cycling and public transport’ paradigm of alternative transport.
There should be no misinterpretation of the aims behind this action. The realisation of this action will offer significant opportunities to reduce rider vulnerability and improve safety. But at the same time, a long standing inequality will be addressed and opportunities for achieving wider government policy aims will be realised.
A full reconsideration of the role of motorcycles in overall transport policy and the contribution of motorcycle use to wider society is urgently needed. Motorcycles should join walking, cycling and public transport as fully supported transport modes. Benefits for both safety and mobility will be achieved.
Why bother? What do motorcycles offer to society and the transport network?
Integrated and sustainable transport is as much about introducing choice as it is about creating a better and safer environment. There has been an overall emphasis on reducing the amount of journeys that are made by private car, but only limited successes have been achieved against a backdrop of the ever increasing need for individual transport flexibility and choice.
Motorcycles of all kinds are seen as the ‘SMART’ choice by a large number of road users. They offer:
- SUSTAINABLITY – in comparison to the private car, with much lower average CO2 outputs.
- MOBILITY – far more efficient for the individual road user than almost any other mode.
- ACCESSIBILITY – better than most other modes.
- REALISTIC – for users in terms of offering transportation freedom and flexibility.
- TRANSPORT – real convenience for road users.
Motorcycles also offer:
- Low Carbon Footprint
- Average CO2 outputs of the current new motorcycle fleet in 2010 were around 110g/km – 30% lower than the car average. Smaller motorcycles and scooters often produce less than 75g/km (ACEM – European motorcycle industry).
- Motorcycles require far fewer resources during manufacture. Once a motorcycle has reached the end of its useful life over 75% of components can be reused on other machines, the remaining 25% can be recycled. (ACEM).
- Less Infrastructure Damage
- Motorcycles impose no measurable wear on the countries roads and are responsible for almost none of road maintenance costs.
- Motorcycles take up a fraction of the space that a car needs, so increased motorcycle use would have little impact on the current roads infrastructure.
- Tackling Congestion
- Motorcycles occupy far less space on the road and do not contribute to traffic congestion.
- Five motorcycles can be parked in a single car parking space, allowing for more efficient land use at destinations.
- Motorcycles are not forced to remain stationary in traffic with an idling engine. A gridlocked car – even when carrying four passengers – returns zero miles to the gallon.
- Motorcycles play a role as practical and flexible personal transportation for those who cannot afford a car, allowing motorcycles a role in reducing social exclusion.
- Motorcycles are also used as low cost transport by those furthering their opportunities in education & employment such as young job seekers in remote areas which are not well served by public transport.
- Time Saving
- A motorcycle can take approximately 16-46% less time to cover the same trip through congested traffic as a car. A motorcycle can also offer significant time savings for commuters on medium to long distance trips.
- Key parts of many urban motorway networks and main routes are fast approaching (or have reached) gridlock during peak periods. Increased motorcycle use can help to slow traffic growth. A mid-range motorcycle is capable of maintaining normal traffic speeds on ‘A’ roads and motorways and is less affected by traffic congestion at peak times.
- Motorcycles can, in most cases, avoid or extricate themselves from congestion. Malfunctioning motorcycles do not normally cause additional congestion as they can easily be removed from flows of traffic.
- Competitiveness and Productivity
- Recognition of the contribution that economic activity which relates to motorcycles makes to ‘UK PLC’ (Net worth of around £7.5Billion, over 58,000 employed )
- Safety Security and Health.
- Taking a positive approach to the benefits that motorcycling can bring can also offer a ‘vehicle’ for tackling road safety. Transport policies that maximise the motorcycle opportunity, offer a framework for developing sustainable safety and training initiatives
- Reducing motorcycle vulnerability through investment in the safe use of the mode alongside work done for cycling.
- Equality of opportunity
- Equality of opportunity should not be based around a narrow set of ideologically constrained transport policy criteria. Discriminating against certain transport modes can cause social inequality, particularly for those who can benefit from the low cost mobility opportunity that many motorcycles offer
All transport modes, including motorcycles and scooters, should be regarded as tools within the transport policy toolbox. All modes offer key components to the structure of a properly managed and integrated transport policy, but if some are left out of the toolbox, key aims cannot be successfully realised.
The Government’s Motorcycle Strategy of 2005 was widely welcomed by the motorcycle community and road safety experts. The Government announced that motorcycles would be ‘mainstreamed’ in transport policy. Unfortunately, progress on the implementation of this key principle was slow, however in 2015 the government renewed its commitment in the British Road Safety Statement: “Protecting vulnerable road users, including pedestrians, cyclists, motor cyclists, and horse riders, through infrastructure and vehicle improvements, promotion of safer behaviour and equipment and ensuring other road users are aware of the risks posed to these groups and adapt accordingly.”
MCIA/NPCC/Highways England believes that there is an opportunity to bring some forwardthinking views to transport policy discussion. A sensible, sober and ideology-free approach offers the chance for a new and more rational consideration of overall policy development.
So far, all attempts to resolve car road traffic congestion have struggled to match increasing demand for road space. As evidenced by the statistical data available, forcing narrow concepts such as ‘demand restraint’ upon citizens should now be considered as policy choices that, in the narrow fashion that have so far been applied, have been proven inadequate and only applicable in certain circumstances.
As discussed in the introduction to this theme, future focus should be on policy measures fully compatible with the real demand-orientated needs of UK citizens and businesses. Action is needed to re-orient transport policy within the framework of a more systematic approach, without favouring arbitrarily one or the other transport mode.
Inclusion of motorcycles in ‘command’ transport policy offers a significant opportunity for a new and more impactful approach to the nation’s transport and road safety problems.
- Continue to lobby the DfT for the inclusion of motorcycles in ‘command’ transport policy
- Continue to liaise with DfT on motorcycle specific resourcing at the department.
UPDATE – Action 21 – To Seek a ‘Level Playing Field’ Approach to Ensure Proportionate Support for Motorcycling Within Both Safety and Transport Policy
A range of presentations have been made to both public and private sector stakeholders
The concepts within this action have been discussed at length with Ministers, senior officials and with local authorities
Although general agreement with the principle has been verbally offered in meetings, national and regional government has yet to officially accept the key point and motorcycles remain largely absent from command policies in the transport area. The welcome addition of Highways England to this partnership is a significant step forward, but the wider situation still needs addressing.
Positively, Northamptonshire County Council has embraced motorcycling within policy and planning and are currently rolling out actions to realise the ‘level playing field’. See Appendix A for more details.
We will continue to liaise with Government at all levels on this action, as the level playing field approach is vital to underpin safety investment and general policy support for motorcycling as a legitimate transport mode which plays a key part in the UK transport system.
7 Working Together to Build a Safer Road System, British Road Safety Statement, Moving Britain Ahead, page 6, Dec 2015.