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August 2nd 2021

Motorcycle Accident

National Road Victim Month – Our motorcycle accident awareness campaign highlights group that puts the action into riders’ rights

National Road Victim Month – Our motorcycle accident awareness campaign highlights group that puts the action into riders’ rights

Hudgell Solicitors has teamed up with the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) as part of our motorcycle accident awareness campaign this summer to help highlight the dangers faced by riders. As well as highlighting the work done by a Trust to install defibrillators at motorbike crash blackspots across the UK in a recent article, MAG has marked the start of National Road Victim Month by writing this blog to showcase the work the group does to champion motorcycle riders’ rights.

Hudgell Solicitors has teamed up with the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) as part of our motorcycle accident awareness campaign this summer to help highlight the dangers faced by riders. As well as highlighting the work done by a Trust to install defibrillators at motorbike crash blackspots across the UK in a recent article, MAG has marked the start of National Road Victim Month by writing this blog to showcase the work the group does to champion motorcycle riders’ rights.

Motorcycle accident campaign – MAG blog

The Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) was formed in 1973 with a mission to uphold the rights of riders and promote the benefits of motorcycles. As it heads towards its 50th anniversary, MAG remains true to its ideals of protecting personal choice and freedoms with its motto ‘let the rider decide’.

Motorcycles are a minority transport mode, making up approximately one per cent of road traffic.  That one per cent is however significant, equating to approximately 1.4 million bikes covering a total of three billion miles in Great Britain during 2019.

Motorcycles produce less emissions, take up less space on the road than cars, weigh less, and are affordable mobility for many who cannot afford a car or public transport. They are not classed as active travel, but as Colin Brown, MAG’s Director of Campaigns and Political Engagement, quips: “Try sitting on a bar stool in a wind tunnel blowing 60 or 70mph winds for an hour, then tell me motorcycling is not active travel.”

It is fair to say that motorcyclists are over-represented in casualty statistics on the road. Motorcyclists, just as cyclists, pedestrians and horse riders, are classed as vulnerable road users.  They do not have the protection of seat belts, roll cages, air bags, and crumple zones that greatly protect drivers from the consequences of collisions. Safety features built into cars are designed to make the occupants safer, but this can inadvertently make those outside the vehicle less safe.

The standard response for vulnerable road user safety is to apply the logic of separation by educating drivers about safe passing distances, creating segregated cycle lanes, and of course separate pavements for pedestrians. This is why MAG campaigns for motorcycle access to bus lanes.  The exact same principle of separation applies.

Motorcyclists have say on top five priorities in survey

In a recent survey conducted by MAG, motorcyclists were asked for the top five priorities that they wanted MAG to give to the Roads Minister, Baroness Vere of Norbiton. Bus lane access came out as the top priority. There remains an inconsistent approach nationally to motorcycle access in bus lanes. The decision is one for local transport authorities, but whilst many do follow this sensible policy, some still do not.

The second priority relating again to safety raised in MAG’s survey was the quality of road surfaces.  For this we can read potholes as the biggest issue. Most road users get hot under the collar on the question of potholes. As MAG points out, for motorcyclists a pothole is not just an inconvenience, but can be a question of life and death. MAG’s research in this area revealed that on average, four motorcyclists die every year as a result of poor road maintenance and a further 70 per year suffer life-changing injuries.

MAG’s survey also revealed that riders were seriously concerned about the design of crash barriers and location of street furniture. This is basically all the solid objects that you are likely to hit if you come off your motorcycle. It is a shocking fact that existing regulations require crash barriers to be tested for performance when cars, vans and lorries collide with them, yet there is no similar requirement for impacts with motorcycles, or more importantly their riders.

Many motorcyclists feel that their concerns are overlooked when it comes to road safety simply because they are a minority group. MAG works hard lobbying government for improved road safety plans for motorcyclists and last year was invited to join the Department of Tranport’s Road Safety Delivery Group.

MAG runs a road safety campaign called Filter Friendly which aims to educate drivers to watch out for motorcycles filtering through congested lanes of traffic. The campaign is closely tied to the international Ride To Work Day. This is an international campaign to promote motorcycling for the daily commute, and is promoted in the UK by MAG.

As an overall strategy to improve the lot of riders when it comes to road safety investment and attitudes, MAG has launched a vision document called Welcoming Roads.

MAG - motorbike accident awareness

This is described as an evolution of Vision Zero, the current, and widely adopted road safety approach. MAG hopes that the Welcoming Roads vision will restore the focus and investment imbalances and get all groups aligned to a common goal of creating a safe and welcoming environment for all, regardless of their choice of transport mode or purpose for using the road network.

Motorcycle accident safety a small part of MAG’s work to make riders’ views heard

The work that MAG carries out goes far beyond road safety. Indeed, MAG members are keen to point out that MAG is not a road safety organisation. The heart of what MAG does is ensuring that the views of riders are heard and taken into account by policy makers. This work happens at national, regional and local level.

Transport policy is a major area of interest. It is policy in this area that impacts on how the activity of riding a motorcycle is regulated, restricted or encouraged.

Colin Brown, MAG’s Director of Campaigns and Political Engagement explained: “Motorcycling is greatly misunderstood by many policy makers. The reality is that many policy makers have no experience of riding a motorcycle. Statistically it is easy to see that most policy makers will have walked, cycled, driven a car and used public transport. By contrast, familiarity with motorcycling is less prevalent.

“It is, therefore, unsurprising that policy often overlooks or misunderstands the role that the mode plays in the transport mix. This is a detriment for everyone as the benefits are far higher than many think, and with a little encouragement from good policy those benefits could be expanded and enhanced.

“MAG’s purpose is thus to educate and promote practical ways that motorcycling can help achieve society’s collective goals for sustainable, inclusive, affordable and flexible mobility.”

Proof of extra recognition for motorcycling as a form of transport

Colin added: “A common statistic that we quote comes from a Dutch transport study that showed that a 10 per cent modal shift from single occupancy cars to motorcycles would show a 40 per cent reduction in congestion. That reduced congestion applies to all road users, so we are not just talking about motorcyclists benefitting; we all do. The reduction in congestion naturally improves air quality and reduces CO2 emissions.

An MAG demonstration against charges for pre Euro 3 motorcycles in the London Ultra Low Emission Zone
An MAG demonstration (also main image above) against charges for pre Euro 3 motorcycles in the London Ultra Low Emission Zone

“After many years promoting this basic concept of modal shift from car to motorcycle, I am glad to say that we are beginning to see that we are achieving more recognition of the benefits motorcycling provides.”

The Government recently launched its Transport Decarbonisation Plan. Transport Secretary Grant Shapps wrote in his introduction: “Transport decarbonisation is a dull way of describing something much more exciting and far-reaching.” The document clearly states: “Zero emission motorcycles and other powered two wheelers are an efficient and clean form of mobility that can reduce congestion, improve urban air quality and reduce noise” so it does seem, as Colin says, that motorcycling is becoming more recognised.

These signals are certainly backed by sales figures for motorcycles. In a recent press release from the Motorcycle Industry Association, the trade body for the motorcycle industry in the UK, Chief Executive Tony Campbell said: “Growth in the market was expected but not at this incredible rate, with more and more commuters looking to travel with ease and versatility, PTW’s (powered two-wheelers) have all too often been overlooked, our sector has a key role to play in the future of mobility and transport and we believe this growth is just the beginning.”

What else the MAG is doing to help bikers

MAG is also very active in helping the authorities tackle motorcycle theft and related crime.  Members of the Motorcycle Crime Reduction Group, MAG also lobby Police and Crime Commissioners, campaign for more secure parking facilities, and promote ‘lock it or lose it’ messaging to riders.

MAG leaflets

In recent years, MAG has collated the National Police Force Bike Theft Ranking data. Using Freedom of Information requests, MAG collates data to determine the rate of theft of motorcycles by police force area. MAG is currently lobbying the Policing Minister for a meeting to discuss ways that the reporting and recording of motorcycle theft be more effective.

The Motorcycle Action Group places great value on the views of its members and ensuring that those opinions are properly communicated to government.

The work is often carried out by ordinary members on a voluntary basis, but the organisation employs two paid lobbyists, one of whom, Lembit Öpik, is a former MP. The organisation is democratic in nature with local and regional representatives being elected by members. All full members get a single vote, while all regional reps sit on a national committee which acts as the policy-making body.

To find out more about the Motorcycle Action Group and the broad range of issues on which it campaigns, visit its website at www.mag-uk.org.  If you ride yourself, you can take out a membership or make a donation to support the tireless work that the organisation does on your behalf.

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