More motorcycles means lower casualty rates

Motorcycling gets much safer when over 10% of vehicles are bikes, transport minister told

MOTORCYCLING gets safer as the number of riders on the road increases, a safety conference at the Department for Transport was told yesterday.

Transport Minister Robert Goodwill was presented data showing that countries with a higher proportion of motorcycles and scooters to cars have a lower rate of bike accidents.

Japan has 98 bikes per 1000 vehicles. For every 1000 bikes on the road, the country has 0.8 motorcyclist fatalities per year. In Europe the ratio of bikes to cars is lower, at 73 per 1000, and the rate of motorcyclist fatalities is higher, at 1.52 per 1000 bikes.

In the USA, the rate of bikes to cars is just 27 per thousand and the motorcyclist fatality rate is much higher, at 5.32 per thousand bikes.

The data was presented by Jacques Compagne, Secretary General of ACEM, which represents motorcycle manufacturers in Europe.

Compagne argued that when at least 10% of road traffic is made up of motorcycles and scooters, safety of riders improves considerably. 

He told the conference: “Restrictive policy or ignoring motorcyclists leads to reducing awareness from other road users, putting riders at higher risk.”

The Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) said in a statement: ‘The UK has the lowest ownership of powered-two-wheelers in Europe but proportionately has one of the highest rates of fatal accidents...  In sharp contrast, the Netherlands has three times the number of PTWs per head of the population and yet riders are five times less likely to be killed than riders in the UK.

‘The highest rate of PTW ownership in Europe is in Greece at 33%, and yet the fatality rate is still proportionately nearly a third of the UK rate.

‘Ten per cent seems to be a critical tipping point.’

The conference, organised by the MCIA and Association of Chief Police Officers, examined evidence that increasing the number of motorcyclists on the road could actually improve safety. It was held in Department for Transport offices in London and entitled ‘More motorcycles could reduce casualties!’

The MCI said: ‘Unlike previous attempts to tackle motorcycle safety, this calls for a fundamental change in how motorcycling is regarded by those responsible for transport planning.’

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