Today (11th November) could be an important day for the way Powered Two Wheelers (PTW’s) are considered in the UK. The thoughts at a major safety conference are that motorcycling must become part of mainstream transport planning to reduce casualties.
Leading figures from the motorcycle industry and the police will be calling for a radical change in attitudes towards motorcycling in the UK, when they address a safety conference being held today (Monday 11th November) at the Department for Transport offices in London.
The conference is being organised jointly by the Motorcycle Industry Association and the Association of Chief Police Officers, in partnership with the Department for Transport. It will examine perspectives from the motorcycle industry, the police, the insurance industry, other road users groups, road safety policy makers, Transport for London plus the Government’s view, via Robert Goodwill, Under Secretary of State for Transport, who is delivering the keynote speech.
Unlike previous attempts to tackle motorcycle safety, this calls for a fundamental change in how motorcycling is regarded by those responsible for transport planning. It will explore the concept and conference title: ‘More motorcycles could reduce casualties?’ while identifying the limitations of continuing with the current tendency to just tackle safety through sporadic campaigns. Delegates will be presented with data, which shows ‘volume breeds relative safety’.
The UK has the lowest ownership of powered two wheelers (PTWs) in Europe but proportionately has one of the highest rates of fatal accidents measured against the PTW circulating Parc (fatality per 10,000 PTW).
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 (using the same measure).
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.
10% seems to be a critical tipping point, according to Jacques Compagne, the Secretary General of ACEM –Association of European Motorcycle Manufacturers, who will address delegates. Using source data from the International Traffic Safety Data and Analysis Group IRTAD, he will argue that when at least 10% of road traffic is made up of PTWs, safety outcomes for riders improve considerably.
The correlation between high PTW ownership and less serious accidents quantifies the key findings from research by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) which recommended (as far back as 2008) that the way to reduce casualties significantly is to include motorcycles in mainstream transport policy.
10% is also a critical point at which research in Europe has shown that motorcycles can help cities keep moving. Delegates will hear about the study: http://www.tmleuven.be/project/motorcyclesandcommuting/home.htm carried out on a particularly congested route in Belgium, which found that when 10% of car drivers swapped to motorcycles – congestion was reduced for all road users by 40%. When 25% of car drivers swapped – congestion was eliminated altogether.
New models of small motorcycles and scooters can do up to 160mpg and there is a good range of electric motorcycles, which have the added benefit of being able to be charged at a normal plug socket. These are ideal for commuting.
Powered two-wheelers could play a significant role in helping to ease urban congestion, which is predicted to get worse, but they need to be encouraged and included in mainstream transport policy, in the same way that cycling is, to ensure better safety for UK riders.
Steve Kenward, CEO of the Motorcycle Industry Association says this conference should be the beginning of a process of change: “Today will mark the start of a serious dialogue to explore how motorcycling can become part of mainstream transport policy. We are hopeful that the process of integrating and embracing motorcycling into the transport mix – in the way that cycling is – will see an end to policies, which have historically sustained a vulnerable environment for motorcyclists”.