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Are Britain’s Roads Biker Safe??

June 27, 2009


A Sign of the Times!!

A Sign of the Times!!

Birmingham, England – Ask the average British biker that question and oft times the response is coloured by his, or her, latest experience with an errant car driver. Yet the 2008 accident statistics, released this week by the UK Department of Transport (DfT), appear to show that riding a bike in the UK has never been safer. Fatalities have dropped by 16% over the 2007 figures down from 588 to 493.

I say appear as the overall traffic levels dropped in the same period by just under 1% so the drop in rider fatalities could simple be down to less riders being in harms way i.e. either people are simple not riding or the people who hit the people who are riding are not driving. This fact seems to have been completely ignored by the UK’s road safety ‘pundits’ who continue to grind on about the effectiveness of ‘road safety interventions’ on the motorcycling community. Interventions that are invariable not backed up by statistical evidence of there effectiveness, but are often very effective in producing further ‘contracts’ and ‘notoriety’ for those involved.

Mean time Eurorap – the European Road Assessment Program – in their UK guise – the Road Safety Foundation – have released the results of their annual assessment of which of the UK’s roads are most dangerous. Not for the first time and unsurprisingly the good old A537 Macclesfield to Buxton road better known, in biking circles, as the ‘Cat and Fiddle’ and ‘the best road in England for a good thrash on a bike’ is the most dangerous road in the UK. Well dangerous to bikers that is for removal of the bike crash stats from the ‘Cats’ overall ‘score’ drops it to a much more lowly place in the dangerous road hit parade.

Now the ‘Cats’ been a thorn in the paw of the road safety team of the now Cheshire East Council (CEC) for years. Theres been large amounts of cash spent on them there hills, and bends, huge ‘interventions’ with some success in crash reduction terms. But the fact that the ‘Cat’ keeps topping out in Eurorap really bugs the guys and girls down at CEC HQ in Sandbach, but what to do?

Well it turns out that those nice DfT people in London have given CEC £597,000 to reduce the high numbers of bike crashes on the ‘Cat’ using a ‘new approach’.  Yes a ‘new approach’ which involves a bike detection system, now installed by TDC Systems. OK that means we know how many bikes use the ‘Cat’ and who owns them. Handy in road safety terms? Possibly. Even handier if you planned to prosecute riders for using a road from which they have been banned by use of suitable traffic regulation orders – orders that CEC can easily make. Add in some police support, the UK Association of Chief Police Officers (ACPO) have said: “There is a need for radical thinking in respect of motorcycles, including consideration of the creation of protection zones where all motorcycles other than those specifically permitted, would be prohibited” and you have the first A road in the UK from which motorcycles are specifically banned on road safety grounds. Not going to happen, yep that’s what was said about banning smoking in public places. Risk adverse society, nanny state. Watch this space.

On Michael Jackson. I hope you are like me and wish that MJ be remembered for the fantastic music that he produced and the billions of people he brought happiness too. I for one could do without the constant 24/7 criticism of his personal issues and lifestyle being offered by most of the media.

© Back Roads Rider 2009

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