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Victory in Northern Ireland: wire rope barriers will disappear

Picture: Wim Taal

The British Motorcycle Action Group (MAG UK) announces a victory for common sense and for motorcyclists’ road safety in Northern Ireland, with the use of wire rope barriers on roads being terminated.

Nichola Mallon, Northern Ireland’s Minister for Infrastructure (photo: DfI)

A sustained campaign, led by MAG Northern Ireland’s Martyn Boyd, culminating in a strong case being put to the Department of Infrastructure and Minister Nicola Mallon, has now resulted in a positive outcome for road safety and the safety of motorcyclists in particular.

MAG UK’s Northern Ireland Representative, Martyn Boyd, and MAG UK Director, Ian Churchlow met with officials of the Northern Ireland Department for Infrastructure (DfI) in July 2020 to discuss MAG’s concerns about the continued use of wire rope style crash barriers on the trunk road network across the province. At the end of the meeting, the DfI accepted that wire rope and steel post type crash barriers are hazardous to motorcyclists’ safety in a collision with such a barrier. The DfI agreed to actively promote the wider use of much safer Motorcycle Protection System barrier installations at high-risk locations which are or could be particularly hazardous to motorcyclists. The Dfi also agreed to work with the local universities on any research projects, with the goal of developing a crash barrier system that is much less harmful to motorcyclists but still effective against twin-track vehicles.

In January 2021 the regulations governing central reservation crash barrier requirements were changed and going forward any new or upgrading road schemes for or on a road which requires or has a central reservation barrier, will be required to install rigid barriers (for example W beam or concrete ‘cushions’). The barriers will have a design life of 50 years and wire rope style barriers will no longer be used. In addition, any existing wire rope style barriers requiring replacement due to damage or age will be replaced by a rigid barrier.

MAG Northern Ireland’s Martyn Boyd commented: “We know we won’t see wire rope barriers being ripped out wholesale and replaced immediately, but it is still great news for rider safety in the long term and I’m confident that we achieved the best realistic result possible. I’m very pleased to have achieved such a positive outcome for motorcyclists regarding this issue. The regulation changes apply to the whole UK from my reading of the document, because Northern Ireland could not move unilaterally on this so it seems DfI have persuaded the rest of the country to adopt the measures also.”

Source: MAG UK

Top photograph by Wim Taal

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