'EASY RIDER SAFETY CONCERNS'
In July, while traversing London, I fell victim to the common SMIDSY. Except this time, the driver of the top model Range Rover that hit me didn't even have the common decency or humanity to apologise or check that I and my pillion, spreadeagled across the Tarmac, were okay. Fortunately, others came to our assistance - but this is another story.
Just another collision involving a motorcycle in the surging morass that is London traffic. Except that the rate of motorcycle crashes and collisions has been on the rise over the past couple of years, against the national trend.
Given this, the London Assembly Transport Committee convened a meeting last month under the rather strange title of Easy Rider Safety Concerns. Nothing 'easy rider' at all about two wheel journeys in London; concentration levels need to be honed to the max.
Motorcycle interests at this forum were represented by the three main national bodies: Motorcycle Action Group (MAG), British Motorcyclists Federation (BMF), and Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA). The Chair's introduction stated that the reason for convening this meeting was to review and discuss the Transport for London (TfL) report, Motorcycle Safety Action Plan: working together, towards roads free from death and serious injury.
The national motorcycle representatives and a small team from TfLwere asked to make opening contributions, putting forward their thoughts and ideas as to why London was experiencing a spike in collisions and crashes and consequently what are called KSIs: Killed and Seriously Injured.
The growth of the London economy, the return of consumer confidence and the availability of 'cheap money' has meant that bike sales have increased over the past couple of years, leading to increased mileage, journey times, and, therefore, exposure to risk.
The motorcycle representatives put forward potential reasons for the increase in bike crashes. Among them were:
- the fact that the CBT test is twenty-five years old and is being revised to take consideration of up-to-date traffic conditions;
- that road space in London is under pressure and TfL has a policy of reducing space on some roads, with the idea of making it safer for cyclists and pedestrians - this was said to encourage more risk taking by riders;
- that all two wheel users are vulnerable (the KSI statistics for cyclists and motorcyclists are almost identical).
Also acknowledged, was the fact that during 2014, as well as this year, the number of riders killed has risen. 48% of these tragedies were linked to speeding, 30 % were tragedies with no other vehicle involved. Bikes over 500cc were the most represented in terms of fatalities, even though scooters and small cc bikes are more numerous.
So what is to be done?The Plan lists five of what they call 'conflict types,' which have resulted in KSI collisions, and none of which will come as a surprise to us riders - other vehicles turning right across the path of a motorcyclist, for example, or disobeying junction control and turning into the path of a motorcyclist, etc, etc.
At the end of the document they list 29 'Actions' to improve safety and enhance awareness of risks and dangers; many of which will be familiar and welcome campaigns, such as raising the awareness of other road users as to the vulnerability of riders, or encouraging the use of what they call PPE (Personal Protection Equipment). TfL agreed to provide a 40% uplift in the Met Police Motorcycle Tasking Team, to discourage speeding and careless riding and traffic violations (by car drivers too). You can view the whole document at content.tfl.gov.uk/motorcycle-safety-action.
While it's encouraging to see time and attention being put into improving safety and conditions for motorcycling, in this period of government-imposed austerity when the local authority, ministerial and police budgets have all been, and will continue to be, severely cut, it remains to be seen how much of a plan will be implemented. Also, given the frenetic and 'must get there' aggression that driving in London provokes, it would take an optimist of Panglossian proportions to believe change is going to come.
I think we'll need to take care of ourselves and each other on this one. If you're a commuter or regular rider in and around London, 'be careful out there'.
19/11/15 As an ex despatch rider of over 10 years experience I have to say this doesn't suprise me. I used to see some bikers do crazy things....totally disengaging their brains. Keep the speed sensible....keep your eyes everywhere. ...filter sensibly....and keep your cool. Yes there are a huge number of twatish drivers in London. ...just don't be one of them !!!! It is possible to stay safe in London BTW !!!
19/11/15 Dangerous?!? It's because you never rode in India!
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