Make motorcycling safer by encouraging it, police chiefs tell government

Want motorcycling to be safer? Get more people to do it, ACPO and MCIA tell government

THE best way for government to improve motorcycle safety is by encouraging more people to ride, according to new calls from police chiefs and the bike industry.

Motorcyclists make better road users than drivers and encouraging more people to take up biking will improve rider safety, according to the Motorcycle Industry Association and the Association of Chief Police Officers.   

Government and transport planners should listen because research shows getting more people to ride instead of drive can eliminate congestion, the MCIA said.

The MCIA cites a Belgian study which used computer modelling to show congestion could be eliminated on one of Europe’s most congested roads if 25% of drivers switched to motorcycles.

The group says European data also shows that when riders make up a greater percentage of traffic they are less likely to be involved in accidents.

It says around half of motorcycle accidents are the result of another road user and evidence suggests getting more people to start their motoring careers on a motorcycle would improve safety of all vulnerable road users.  

The MCIA and ACPO are calling for a series of changes to encourage motorcycle use and improve safety, including:

  • Making drivers take the same theory test as riders.
  • Compulsory road user awareness lessons in the school curriculum.
  • Inclusion of motorcycles in transport planning, along with walking, cycling and public transport.
  • Grants for electric vehicles to be extended to electric motorcycles.
  • Training upgrade for those who hold a licence for a smaller bike, but want to upgrade to a larger one.
  • New ‘coherent and appropriate clothing and equipment standards’.

  • Police-taught BikeSafe riding courses to be rolled out nationwide.

  • Courses for riders displaying anti-social behaviour.

The calls are made in a new policy document from the MCIA and ACPO, due to be revealed this afternoon at a meeting of the All Party Parliamentary Motorcycle Group in the Houses of Parliament.

A statement from the MCIA said: ‘Both police and industry agree traditional road safety policies directed at motorcycling will only partially deliver more positive outcomes for motorcycle safety beyond those already achieved. However, encouraging rather than discouraging motorcycling, should contribute to better safety outcomes.

‘The document, which will be unveiled at a Parliamentary Reception hosted by the All Party Parliamentary Motorcycle Group on Monday 8th December, calls for motorcycles to be included in mainstream transport policy and sets out a framework of practical recommendations addressing how this might be achieved.

‘The idea that more motorcycles on the road improves rider safety was initially based on European data, which shows that when a greater percentage of traffic is made up of motorcycles, mopeds or scooters, riders are less likely to be involved in an accident.

 ‘With around 50% of motorcycle accidents initiated by other road users, an effective programme to raise awareness of all road users could considerably reduce the number and seriousness of incidents.

‘There is a growing body of evidence which shows that if more people started their road careers on a motorcycle, scooter or moped, this would lead to improvements in driver behaviour towards all vulnerable road users.

‘It is also acknowledged that motorcyclists make better road users when driving cars.'

Deputy Chief Constable Tim Madgwick, ACPO's Motorcycling Lead, said: 'I wanted to ensure that casualty reduction was still a priority and I am pleased that these views were shared by MCIA and that we have been able to work together to build this framework which should see some real advancement in improving road safety, particularly for motorcyclists.'

Steve Baker MP, Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Motorcycle Group, said: ‘It’s time for officialdom to stop seeing motorcycling as a problem. Increased motorcycle use offers affordable access to personal transport and an antidote to congestion.

‘As a lifelong motorcyclist myself, I have first-hand experience of the benefits that commuting by motorcycle can bring. I would be delighted to see the Government adopt a more encouraging approach to motorcycle use.

‘If we want to reduce congestion and improve the quality of people’s lives, we need to embrace all forms of two-wheeled transport. This document gives a clear framework as to how that can be achieved while improving safety for all road users.’

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