100% Biker 206

100% Biker 206
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According to a recent report by the London Assembly Transport Committee, motorcycle casualties are once again on the rise in London, increasing by 21% between 2010 and 2014.

Motorcyclists account for around 24% of serious casualties, despite constituting less than 2% of vehicles.

The problems, says the report, include the inconsistency across London with regard to bus lanes. While Transport for London allows bikers to use bus lanes, many boroughs operate their own restrictions. Valerie Shawcross CBE, the chair of the London Assembly Transport Committee, commented; “There are three types of vulnerable road user in the Capital—cyclists, pedestrians and motorcyclists. The Transport Committee [has] spent a great deal of time and effort ensuring TfL considers the needs of cyclists and pedestrians—now it is time for them to pay more attention to the safety of motorcyclists.”

The day before the London Assembly’s report, TFL coincidentally sent out a press release regarding its Urban Motorcycle Design Handbook. Surely a Handbook is a good thing? This document is designed as a guide on how to make roads safer for bikers: it’s not actually a bad document, but it’s basic common sense. Do civil engineers really need to be told that, for example, narrowing of lanes and divider kerbs can be perilous for filtering motorcyclists, or the danger of limited visibility junctions?

The problem is, however, that many junctions and roads have already been redesigned and it’s unlikely that TfL will start digging up the highways just to help bikers. The Urban Motorcycle Design handbook may already be too little, too late.

What is particularly interesting is the TfL press release regarding the handbook. Bear in mind the document is specifically about dangers on and of the road itself to motorcycles and the need to design roads to reduce accidents. So what does the press release concentrate on? ‘Operation Winchester’, a TfL and Metropolitan Police campaign in which, over four months, ‘enforcement activity’ was stepped up at ‘hotspot locations … to help motorcyclists and scooter riders safe. Officers stopped 5389 riders, issued 742 Traffic Offence Reports, 1,335 verbal warnings, seized 96 motorcycles and made 10 arrests.’ What exactly has this got to do with road surfaces, bus lanes and such like? This release was issued in March 2016, at the same time as TfL continues to run its motorcycle safety campaign to tackle fatal collisions, the message being that bikers travel too fast. So, what do you know? It was all our own fault, after all.

Incidentally, did you know that TfL has allocated a budget of £913 million over the next years towards its cycling programmes? Do you know how much it’s put aside for its own Motorcycle Safety Action Plan. Exactly nothing. Zero. Zilch. Not a penny. Stay safe out there, because you can’t rely on TfL to do a damn thing to help you.