During a meeting with MAG Northern Ireland on 2nd July 2020, the Northern Ireland Department for Infrastructure accepted that wire rope crash barriers, whilst effective for larger vehicles, pose a hazard to motorcyclists’ safety. This is welcomed by the Motorcycle Action Group.
Motorcycle Action Group UK’s Northern Ireland Representative, Martyn Boyd, and MAG UK Director, Ian Churchlow, recently had a positive meeting with NI’s Dept. for Infrastructure (DfI) officials. The meeting was held specifically to discuss MAG’s concerns about the continued use of wire rope style crash barriers on the trunk road network across the province.
The meeting with infrastructure procurement and roads engineering officials Stephen Bradshaw and Stephen Hughes was positive, enlightening for both sides and very helpfully facilitated by Kellie Armstrong, Chief Whip of the Alliance Party, and Rachael Woods of the Green Party of Northern Ireland and Chair of the All Party Group on Climate Change at the Northern Ireland parliament at Stormont, through her representative Ricky Bamford.
Martyn Boyd and Ian Churchlow gave an informed presentation explaining the reasons for motorcyclists’ concerns about wire rope crash barriers. In turn, the DfI officials explained the regulatory issues and the difficulties associated with alternative rigid systems, that currently make it difficult for an immediate unilateral cessation of their use. Nevertheless, they understood and accepted our perspective. At the end of the meeting, the DfI:
• accepted that wire rope and steel post type crash barriers are hazardous to motorcyclists’ safety in a collision with one;
• agreed to actively promote, through NI road restraint systems standards, the wider use of much safer Motorcycle Protection System barrier installations at high risk locations which are or could be particularly hazardous to motorcyclists; and
• agreed to work with the local universities on any research projects, with the goal of developing a crash barrier system that is much less harmful to motorcyclists but still effective against twin-track vehicles.
MAG’s objective remains a complete end to the use of wire rope crash barriers and so, to that end, we are willing to work constructively with the DfI in Northern Ireland to achieve this goal as soon as practicable.
MAG Northern Ireland Rep, Martyn Boyd, said:
“I am delighted that we had a positive meeting and that our perspective was accepted. Clearly there is much work still to be done, but this is a good step forward. I would particularly like to thank Kellie Armstrong and Rachael Woods – the only MLA’s who showed interest in this road safety issue – for making this meeting possible. We look forward to continuing constructive dialogue with the Department.”