Barriers to be more dangerous for bikes

A new standard for roadside barriers makes them safer for cars but more dangerous for motorcyclists, according to international road safety watchdogs.  

Every new or replacement crash barrier on every trunk road is now required to feature large steel plates at either end under new Highways Agency guidance. The intention is to prevent cars from being launched into the air or flipped over by sloping barrier-ends which act as a ramp.

The new barrier end, called an ‘end terminal’, crumples to absorb some the impact when struck by a car.

But the European Roads Assessment Programme (Eurorap) has christened them “terminators” and says they are potentially more hazardous to motorcyclists than the style they replace. Dr Joanne Hill, Eurorap’s head of research, said: “If a rider were to launch into the air that’s probably better than being stopped by a terminator block.”

Terminators have already been installed at sites on some trunk roads, including the M2 in Kent, A12 in Essex and A45 in Northamptonshire. A Highways Agency spokesman confirmed that every barrier across the trunk road network would be fitted with them the next time it was due for repair or replacement.

Steve Powell of Highway Care, one manufacturer of the new barrier ends, said they were not tested specifically on motorcycles as this was not part of European standards tests. He said: "Suppliers of barriers and end terminals into the UK market need to comply with European testing as required by the Highways Agency." He pointed out that Highway Care also makes a motorcycle-friendly barrier called BikeGuard, which had been tested for rider safety.

To find out how the Highways Agency could easily make terminators safer for us, get MCN, out July 25.

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Steve Farrell

By Steve Farrell