Roads need to be better designed, funded and maintained to reduce the risk of motorcycle crashes, a 244-page Austroads report has found.
The report, titled “Infrastructure Improvements to Reduce Motorcycle Casualties”, is the result of a two-year study to identify infrastructure improvements to reduce motorcycle crash risk and crash severity.
It says motorcycles should be identified as a separate road user group and considered as a “design vehicle” when planning and maintaining roads.
The report recommends that engineering decisions on roadworks and planning should consider motorcycles, “even if outside of existing design warrants”.
That’s great news for riders as the current trend seems to be to ignore riders when situating and selecting roadside furniture and barriers; using slippery road paint; building roads with odd cambers; and allowing shoddy, patch-up roadworks.
While the report says the road environment accounted for only 2% of motorcycle road deaths in single-vehicle crashes between 1999 and 2003, “certain road elements have the potential to contribute to the actual outcome and severity of the crash”.
It says the first step is to identify roads that pose the highest crash risk to motorcyclists, then perform safety audits.
The report recommends a raft of motorcycle-specific road modifications including:
- install flexible but durable materials or shields underneath barriers;
- install attenuators or energy dissipaters on posts and poles;
- relocate trees, poles, signs and other roadside objects;
- recommended maximums for potholes, ruts and cracks before repair is vital;
- rapid road repair including quick removal of oil, diesel and other spills;
- fluoro warning signage at known crash zones;
- better-designed crash barriers (read the latest Austroads view);
- improve road surfaces for skid resistance, road camber, badly located drains, rough edges, etc; and
- add advance stop lines at intersections with filtering lanes for motorcycles to reach the front of traffic.
The Austroads report is important because all state and federal road/transport departments in Australian and New Zealand are members. Their reports are used as the basis for government policy and practice on all things related to roads and transport.
Let’s hope the bureaucrats and politicians pay attention to this important report.
However, not all is good.
Riders probably won’t like the fact that Austroads advocates lower speed zones and ABS on motorcycles, the latte possibly leading to mandatory ABS on future bikes as has happened in Europe.