MAG UK claims that poor road design is partly to blame for the recent rise in motorcyclist fatalities in London.
Motorcyclist fatalities in London have risen by more than 40% over the past two years, from 22 in 2018 to 31 in 2019. Provisional figures for 2020 show no decline despite vastly reduced traffic levels during the pandemic.
London transport bosses have agreed to review threats to rider safety. Transport for London (TfL) will carry out a series of site visits at critical points across London that – FEMA member the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) says – are threatening riders’ safety.
Heidi Alexander, Deputy Mayor for Transport, agreed a series of site meetings with MAG. Transport for London will meet riders at locations which, MAG says, are typical of many potential accident blackspots around the capital. Sites include Hyde Park Corner, Farringdon Road, and Old Street. MAG is finalising a schedule and the visits will go ahead as soon as possible.
Lembit Opik, MAG’s Director of Communications, said: “This is a significant step forward. Until now, riders in London have felt disenfranchised. Their views are as valid as any other road user’s. We can discuss statistics whilst sat in meeting rooms for as long as we like, but it’s the lived experience of the user that was being forgotten. We believe riders’ interests have been neglected, and the high number of deaths is the outcome of that neglect; something we can now address. Compared to the millions of pounds poured into cycle safety, it is hard to find any evidence of equivalent investment in the safety of motorcyclists.”
Greater London Authority Assembly Member and Conservative Transport Spokesman, Keith Prince, chaired the meeting. He observed: “This meeting led to actual agreements so that motorcyclists are treated with parity of esteem by the London authorities. I’m pleased we made this concrete agreement for sensible engagement that’s data driven and time efficient. So, at last, riders are included in London transport discussions on an equitable basis.”
‘Success in London will naturally lead to progress for all bikers throughout the country’
Additionally, MAG is urging Transport for London to implement the recommendations in its own Urban Motorcycle Design Handbook, published in 2017. MAG says that TfL’s ‘excellent’ handbook offers potentially life-saving road design changes – but asks where these have been implemented. It is also asking TfL to persuade London’s 33 boroughs to follow the design guide – and to harmonise the ‘confusing’ pattern of bus lane usage by motorcyclists.
Colin Brown, MAG’s Director of Campaigns & Political Engagement, said: “We plan to set a precedent for real progress in London and this will become a template for action across the country. All local authorities can – and should -appoint dedicated motorcycling officers. These officers, just like cycling officers, should be charged with making motorcycling safer and more accessible. They should be accountable to motorcyclists.”
During the meeting, MAG called on Transport for London to carry out detailed assessment of recent road schemes on motorcycle safety, as riders can face higher risks from such schemes as ‘pop-up’ cycle lanes and Low Traffic Neighbourhoods. MAG is also asking TfL to use its influence to improve conditions for gig economy riders.
Colin Brown concluded: “We view this meeting as a further step in an ongoing process of dialogue. It is certainly not the end of our efforts. We hope to make further progress on these other important points we are calling for in the coming months. Success in London will naturally lead to progress for all bikers throughout the country.”
Top photograph courtesy of www.london.gov.uk
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