Ahead of the potential Northern Ireland Assembly election in December 2022, MAG is asking all candidates if their party will take motorcyclists’ safety seriously. MAG NI Rep, Martyn Boyd, is angry that the draft NI Road Safety Strategy contains proposals to improve safety for virtually every road user group except motorcyclists.
The Motorcycle Action Group, the largest riders’ representative body in the UK, was the key consulting stakeholder for motorcyclists during the consultation process.
Martyn Boyd said:
“Our perspective is very often ignored, despite us being one of the most vulnerable road user groups. We comprise 2.5% of vehicles on NI roads: virtually the same number as HGVs, who don’t get ignored. But we have been almost completely disregarded.”
The draft NI Road Safety Strategy was published on 24th October. It admits that one of the challenges is to tackle “Concerns surrounding the risk to vulnerable road users (identified as pedestrians, cyclists, motorcyclists and horse riders) and the need to enhance the safety of these road users”. Part of its mission is “to enhance the safety of the road system for all road users and reduce the likelihood and/or severity of a collision”.
The new strategy is built upon the five pillars of the Safe System Approach and says “The Safe System encourages safer road use in various ways, including through road safety education, training and awareness “.
There are specific proposals for improving cycling, equestrian and tractor-driving safety. The DfI has announced grant funding for a New Driver NI initiative to help young drivers be safe. But nothing for motorcyclists. For example, MAG’s proposal for wider use of Motorcycle Protection System installations at key points on roads is absent.
MAG submitted detailed proposals from the motorcyclist’s perspective, and all were ignored.
“It’s like we don’t exist and don’t matter. In our headline proposal, aimed at proactively improving rider safety, we urged that the Enhanced Rider Scheme (ERS) that exists in the rest of the UK be introduced to Northern Ireland. This scheme, which provides low-cost post-test training for motorcyclists, has proven effective in enhancing rider skills and safety and has contributed to significant reductions in collisions involving motorcyclists. But, in a letter to MAG, Minister O’Dowd refused to fund or even consider it.
All he offers are passive awareness campaigns. These have limited effectiveness. Decades after the Think Bike! campaign began, half of all collisions involving motorcyclists are still caused principally by car drivers. Minister O’Dowd claims motorcyclists in NI suffer a rate of serious and fatal collisions that is over twice that of Great Britain but, in self-evident contradiction, he refuses to do anything substantive about it.”
MAG believes this is an astonishing dereliction of responsibility and amounts to discrimination against motorcyclists and a devaluation of riders’ lives. MAG demands parity of respect for motorcyclists.
“Our lives are important, and we will not be disregarded. There are over 83,000 licensed motorcyclists in Northern Ireland and they are all voters.”
In advance of any forthcoming Assembly election, MAG wants to know all party’s positions on this issue. How important are riders’ lives and safety to the candidates? MAG members will be asking all candidates the following two questions:
- Will your party proactively engage with rider safety?
- Will your party meet with MAG to discuss the issues?
MAG will be sharing the answers given with the many thousands of regular riders in advance of the election. The answers could be a factor in determining how they vote. Given the nature of this large community of road users, it could make a difference in the outcome.