Invisible Motorbikes?

AA president addresses major conference on whether more motorcycles could reduce casualties

AA president addresses major conference on whether more motorcycles could reduce casualties

AA president addresses major conference on whether more motorcycles could reduce casualties

More than half of all drivers (57%) are often surprised when a motorcycle appears from nowhere, according to the AA President addressing a major motorcycle conference* in London on 11 November.

These revelations come at a time when provisional government figures show an 8% increase in motorcyclists killed or seriously injured in the spring this year compared to the spring last year.**

The AA president addressed the issue of “Sharing the roads: Changing attitudes” by highlighting a recent AA-Populus poll of 21,165 conducted between 11-17 October 2013.

The main findings were:

  • 57% of car drivers are often surprised when a motorcycle appears from nowhere. This increases to 63% amongst females and drivers over 65 years of age. London is the region with the greatest percentage of drivers surprised by motorbikes appearing from nowhere (60%).
  • 92% recognise that motorcyclists are vulnerable and always give them more space.
  • 40% believe that motorcyclists are inconsiderate. The number increases in London (46%) and SE (44%) and amongst females (43%) and those aged 25-34 (49%).
  • 88% of drivers say they always look out for motorcyclists. This increases to 90% of 45-54 year olds who are perhaps the born again bikers.
  • 85% admit that motorcyclists are sometimes hard to see. 88% of females and those aged 24-34 believe this. The SE is the region with the highest percentage admitting this (87%).

18% of AA members hold a motorcycle licence

King pointed out that there was a considerable cross-over between drivers and those on two wheels. Some 18% of AA members hold a motorcycle licence, 8% ride a motorcycle but 28% used to ride a motorbike but don’t now – this increases to 40% of the over 65s. Fifty per cent of drivers also have at least one bicycle in their household.

We need to ensure that drivers are much more aware of the presence and possible presence of motorbikes and indeed cycles on our roads

Edmund King, AA president

More awareness

Edmund King, AA president, said: “We need to ensure that drivers are much more aware of the presence and possible presence of motorbikes and indeed cycles on our roads. It is worrying that half of all drivers are often caught out by ‘invisible’ motorcycles seemingly coming out of nowhere. Motorcyclists also need to always be aware that they might not be seen.

“We have heard much lately about improving the safety of cyclists from the Prime Minister downwards yet motorcyclists appear to be the forgotten cousins. Yet motorbikes and scooters can play a vital role in helping to reduce congestion and enhance mobility in our towns and cities.

“We need a step change in attitudes to provide a positive role for powered two-wheelers in our transport strategy. Safer, more fuel-efficient bikes coupled with serious inclusion of motorcycling within transport policy could bring benefits for all road users. All too often motorcycling is written off as deemed to be unsafe.”

What if there were lots more motorcycles?

If there were a lot more motorcycles on the roads:

  • 54% say they would be more aware of motorcycles
  • 25% would be more likely to consider motorcyclists as legitimate road users
  • 13% would personally consider using a motorcycle for their daily commute
  • 35% would make more concessions in their driving for motorcyclists
  • 24% would hope that more drivers took to motorcycles so they could benefit from reduced congestion.

King concluded: “We need to work in collaboration with others when looking at transport policy to always think once, think twice, think bikes.”

The AA and Motorbikes

  • AA has 50 motorbike patrols (on Honda Pan Europeans) in six major cities – London, Glasgow, Sheffield, Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham.
  • AA patrols on motorbikes can cut through the traffic to reach breakdowns more quickly
  • By getting to and fixing the breakdown more quickly we can improve service to our members as well as helping to reduce congestion and emissions
  • In urban areas, a broken down car often causes disproportionate congestion and between 11 and 15% of drivers are routinely stuck in morning rush hour queues on key city routes so we want to get to those cars and get them moving as quickly as possible
  • Motorbike patrols can get to most breakdowns at least a third quicker than vans
  • AA Honda Pan Europeans carry an impressive payload of tools and equipment and can tackle most ‘quick fix’ breakdowns at roadside and can even jump start a vehicle
  • AA patrols have been issued with new puncture plugs for tubeless tyres
  • AA attends around 3.5 million breakdowns a year of which around 60,000 are to motorcycles and scooters
  • Average response time: around 40 minutes
  • Fix rate: on average, we fix around 80% of vehicles at the roadside. We don’t have motorcycle-specific figures for repair rate or number recovered.
  • AA offers motorcycle breakdown cover (covered under standard AA membership) and motorcycle insurance
  • Bikers get the same level of cover as any other AA member
  • AA has around 3,000 patrols in total across the UK in urban and rural areas. All patrols can and do attend bike breakdowns and, within the M25, we have a dedicated motorcycle repair and recovery team with bespoke vans – all manned by bikers – as London has a higher density of bikers.
  • AA has used motorbikes ever since the days of early Chater-Leas and BSA sidecar-combinations.
  • Some of the old bikes are in our 40-strong historical patrol vehicle fleet that displays around the country

(11 November 2013)

* Motor Cycle Industry Association conference in association with ACPO, DFT  at the Department for Transport, London.

 

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