A very encouraging initiative came from the Motorcycle Industry Association and the Association of Chief Police Officers today.
Realising the Motorcycling Opportunity; A motorcycle safety and transport policy framework was devised in response to the slow-down in crash statistics for motorcycles and scooters in the UK.
The document, which can be read in its entirety here, acknowledges the benefits of two-wheeled transportation in convenience, economy and ecological friendliness.
This initiative takes the stance that an effective way to enhance scooter and motorcycle safety is to encourage the use of these vehicles. During the 2008 Lillehammer safety conference, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) stated: “The first and most important step is to recognise motorcycling’s place within society and the overall transport system.” (Let’s hear a round of applause).
Two-wheeled transport and road congestion
A study in Belgium examined the effects of drivers shifting to scooters and motorcycles on one of Europe’s busiest roads. If found that if just 10% of drivers opted for two-wheeled transport, congestion was reduced for everybody by 40%. If 25% of drivers were to move to two-wheeled transport, congestion would be eliminated altogether!
Other benefits of scooters and motorcycles
Data from European studies backs up that which we, as scooter riders, implicitly know:
- When a greater percentage of road users are on motorcycle and scooters, riders are less likely to be involved in crashes.
- If more people started their road careers on scooter and motorcycles, attitudes and behaviour towards the more vulnerable road users would improve.
- People who ride scooters and motorcycles make better car drivers.
- Relatives and friends of scooter and motorcycle riders are more aware of them on the road.
Steve Kenward, CEO of the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) said:
“For too long, the Government, local authorities and transport planners seem to have deliberately avoided talking about motorcycle use, a practice which will increasingly fail as a method of reducing rider accidents. Motorcycles need to be treated as a legitimate form of transport, which can save time, space and money for commuters, whilst having the added benefit of reducing congestion for all road users.”
Steve Baker MP, Chairman of the All Party Parliamentary Motorcycle Group, which is hosting the Parliamentary Reception, gave this view:
“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.”
This is a very encouraging initiative which I applaud. A similar initiative here in the US, where motorcycling and scootering is still viewed very much as a bohemian practice, would help immensely.