Comment: Motorcyclists are not another species
It's often astonishing how little we seem to feature in the minds of people who plan our roads and the past week has been a case in point.
On Thursday a group of MPs called for broad changes to the law for new drivers, including raising the minimum age and lowering the drink drive limit. They've thought about this for months and handed they're ideas to Government in a 65 page report. But apparently motorcyclists haven't occurred to them in the whole process. They still haven't been able to say whether they want the same things for new riders. MCN asked days ago and frankly they don't seem to know. This isn't a detail, or at least it shouldn't have been. This is a whole set of road users which the Transport Committee appears to have blithely overlooked. And despite the failure, you can bet motorcyclists would be swept along with at least some of the changes they propose. Can you imagine it being tolerated, for example, that new riders can drink more than new drivers?
A second, far worse example of same blind spot came on Friday. Asked whether a new type of roadside crash barrier had been tested for safety for motorcyclists, a Highways Agency spokesman said he didn't know (The correct answer would have been "No"). Pushed on the matter, he said they had been tested for safety for the public. Which can only mean that the Highways Agency does not regard us as members of the public.
With regard to crash barriers, it’s not news that we are ignored as road users. But not members of the public? This is something new. Worst of all, the spokesman seemed to think the line of questioning vaguely stupid. Should roads be made with regard for the safety of motorcyclists? Of course not. Our priority is the public.
The good news is more motorcycle friendly barriers, without exposed upright posts, are slowly appearing at high risk sites. But sadly there appears to be still a way to go before non-motorcycling policy makers can get the simplest of ideas into their heads: that we are the same species as other road users and entitled to the same consideration in every respect.