8 Ball In The Wind

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

British Government Promotes Highway Planning Involving Motorcycles

There is a British website called the "Motorcycle Framework" that I think everyone involved in the Washington State Transportation and Licensing Departments should examine closely.  It speaks so eloquently of how safety and transportation planning can be blended so that motorcycles and "other vulnerable road users" are considered equally with other road users.  So much of what this website speaks to sounds as if it were coming from a motorcycle rights activist.  Instead it is on a page sponsored by the National Police Chiefs Council, the Motorcycle Industry Council, and Highways England.  Law enforcement, motorcyclists, and transportation blended together.  I find it amazing, and what is on it speaks even more to the heart of motorcyclists issues in transportation.  Both regarding safety and being ignored in basic transportation planning.

"Failure to consider all modes of transport, including motorcycling, denies the opportunity to create fully rounds transport policies, which are relevant to all who need to use transport for differing purposes and in widely varying circumstances.  This narrow approach to transport policy also fails to maximise the opportunities that exist to reduce urban traffic congestion and pollution - an area where motorcycle can play a significant role."  This coming from a government website?  Wow!

It does demonstrate that in order to be serious about lowering fatality rates among motorcyclists is not a single aspect "education/safety" issue.  But a multi-fold integrated comprehensive approach containing mainstream transportation policy inclusion, infrastructure improvements, advances in vehicle technology, as well as the human factor with training and education.  By combining all these aspects, and recognizing the manifold benefits of motorcycles, a truly fair and balanced transportation plan can be achieved.  Unlike what appears to be the current plan here in Washington State which prioritizes; ferries, and the Sound Transit’s light rail system, and other forms of ‘public transportation’ over privately owned vehicles and highway maintenance. 

Another quote from the Motorcycle Framework website speaks directly to the current heavily burdened 'public transportation' in the metro areas of Washington state; "It has been contended that it would be a bad thing if people chose motorcycles over the bus or train.  Industry contends the contrary.  In many urban areas, buses and trains are already beyond sensible or comfortable passenger carrying capacity, which reduces their attractiveness to both existing and potential new users.  If a proportion of bus and train users were to switch to motorcycles, valuable capacity would be opened which would then be more attractive to those current car users who would never consider riding a motorcycle or bicycle.  Transport usage and choices start to balance better than at present."  
In this example, a portion of the passengers from the overcrowded public transportation could choose to ride motorcycles, freeing up seats for current single occupant automobile drivers.  This would open up more highway room for motorcycles as the number of single occupant automobiles began to lower.  The overall effect, while possibly small, would still be reducing congestion overall, and possibly by a significant margin.

In late 2014, English Trade Unions Congress data showed that average commute times had risen over the previous five years for all modes of commuting transport.  That is, except for motorcycles.  They actually had experienced a decrease in overall average commute time.  In 2011 a Belgian study by Transport and Mobility Leuven showed that a modal shift of 10% from private cars to motorcycle reduces lost vehicle hours in congestion on a main train roadway by 63% for everybody using the route (not just the motorcyclists).  Another 2011 study published by Pierre Kopp showed that the 36% increase in motorcycle traffic in Paris between 2000 and 2007 accounted for a net benefit of 168 million Euros ($182 million).

I cannot think of a more appropriate, or more fitting way to conclude this blog post than with another excerpt from Motorcycle Framework; "So, not only are there significant benefits to the individual of changing to motorcycles in terms of reduced journey times, but the reduced congestion is beneficial to both society, business, and the public purse.

Whichever way one considers the issue, if motorcycles are considered in a properly integrated approach to policy, greater opportunities to reduce casualties and to solve our overall transport problems are opened up."

Catch you on the road sometime...

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