Road Safety Consultation – What’s In It For Motorcycling

The Department of the Environment’s (DOE) Minister, Edwin Poots has launched the DOE’s consultation paper to prepare a new road safety strategy for Northern Ireland which will cover the years 2010 to 2020.

The Minister said: “Improvement is also necessary to reduce injuries to older pedestrians and motorcyclists and to deal with the increased risks faced by children in areas of deprivation. To be effective a new strategy must tackle these issues.

So what’s in it for motorcycling?

Generally the consultation proposals are very positive for motorcycling and a good starting point for better motorcycling (with important exceptions):

  • The establishment a Motorcycling Forum, which will consider an inclusive and strategic approach to motorcycling.
  • Consider the development of a motorcycling safety strategy for Northern.
  • Consider the needs and vulnerability of motorcyclists when designing new roads and implementing safety measures on existing roads.
  • Consider provision of specific route treatments for popular motorcycle ‘runs’ such as motorcycle ‘friendly’ barriers and additional signing.
  • Investigate development of additional signing systems to warn road users of the possible presence of motorcyclists ahead.
  • Undertake studies to measure the road safety improvements resulting from resurfacing, surface dressing and other maintenance operations.
  • Seek to work with partners in promoting work on technologies to improve motorcyclists’ safety.
  • Supporting GB in working towards appropriate EU vehicles regulations.
  • Consider measures to increase the visibility of motorcyclists e.g. through the use of fluorescent strips on jackets, helmets etc.
  • Assess the potential for introducing different speed limits for motorcycles.

Right To Ride’s Trevor Baird says, “While agreeing with the positive spirit of the consultation paper, we have concerns on the delivery of some of the options such as Hi Viz jackets and reflective strips, and vehemently oppose any introduction or even assessment of the potential for introducing different speed limits for motorcycles which we assume aims to be lower than other vehicles.

Motorcyclists in Turkey have suffered from different speed limits compared to other vehicles for example on motorways the speed limit for a motorcycle is 50mph while for a car 75mph – bus 62mph – Trucks, Mini-buses, Pick-ups 56mph.

In Switzerland the government proposed plans to technically limit bike speeds to 80kph (50mph) on motorways.

Restricting one form of transport over others is inherently dangerous and totally uncalled for, because it would inhibit the free flow of traffic and in the case of overtaking, it could actually create the potential for collisions, not to mention frustration for other drivers.

Right To Ride has had constant dialogue with Northern Ireland officials and introduced our published “Motorcycling in Northern Ireland – the Rider’s Perspective”, a document which goes beyond the proposals put forward in the consultation and offers the views of motorcyclists as a point of reference for a Motorcycling Strategy in Northern Ireland.

We can only hope that a motorcycle forum will guide any development of a motorcycle strategy with sensible, constructive input from riders, offering sound and proven expertise to guarantee the future of motorcycling in Northern Ireland.

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