The case for specific motorcycle safety strategies
European Union rules on type-approval of L-category vehicles are directly enforced by national administrations and strictly followed by the European motorcycle industry. This results in very high safety standards of all vehicles circulating in the EU.
In spite of this, considerable disparities in terms of road safety remain between EU Member States, as the ETSC (European Transport Safety Council) and the European Commission have pointed out on several occasions¹. The difference in safety levels for motorcyclists across the EU requires tailored and efficient motorcycle safety national strategies and specific interventions at national, regional and local levels.
¹See for example: European Commission. Road safety in the European Union. Trends, statistics and main challenges. Brussels, 2018.
The importance of motorcycle friendly infrastructure
The quality of infrastructure is a vital element of road safety. Carelessly designed- or poorquality vehicle infrastructure can not only damage vehicles but also put road users at risk. In order to make transport infrastructure friendlier to powered two-wheelers, ACEM members have developed, in collaboration with other stakeholders, specific infrastructure guidelines².
Further examples of best practices in infrastructure management can be found in the FEMAERF paper “Improving infrastructure safety for motorcycles”, which highlights the benefits of implementing cost-effective solutions for motorcyclists (e.g. adapted guardrails, use of skid resistance pavement, ensuring adequate maintenance of roads surfaces, etc.).
In order to increase riders´ safety in urban areas, the motorcycle industry has advocated for adapting infrastructure (e.g. pedestrian crossings with less paint to prevent skidding, to convert the first car parking space before a pedestrian crossing into motorcycle parking spaces to increase the visibility, advanced stop lines, etc.) as well as allowing the use of bus and taxi lanes.
Currently, motorcycle access to taxi or bus lanes is allowed in several European cities including: London, Birmingham, Madrid, Malaga, Cordoba, Seville, Athens, Thessaloniki, Genoa, Bologna, Venice, Stockholm, among other European cities.
²The ACEM “Infrastructure Guidelines Handbook” was prepared by industry experts, road and traffic engineers, and urban planners.
Adapting protective equipment to different needs
Personal protective equipment (PPE) varies depending on the type and use of a vehicle. Riders who use their vehicle in a urban environment require different protective gear to those who drive more powerful motorcycles in rural environments, at higher speeds or in off-road activities. As of 2016, the new EU Personal protective equipment regulation introduces a modular approach towards PPE, allowing riders to select garments according to their size, comfort and level of activity.
The motorcycle industry actively encourages riders to wear appropriate safety gear by promoting initiatives such as campaigns offering back protectors with new motorcycle purchases or distributing tens of thousands of back protectors all over Europe. These efforts are also supported by national industry associations, which work closely with clothing manufacturers, insurance companies and national administrations. As an example, in 2019 the French association CSIAM together with the French Ministry of Interior and other stakeholders signed the “Airbag Charter”, with the aim to promote the use of airbag vests.
Further to this, the motorcycle industry has continued to carry out research with equipment manufacturers that has led to the development of new protective equipment products, including special clothing designed for hot climates and airbag jackets. Some motorcycle manufacturers have even designed and developed their own protective equipment, addressing riders’ specific needs.
Moreover, the industry has been one of the main contributors to the technical work in PPE done at the European Committee for Standardization (CEN). Industry efforts were instrumental in developing the EN 17092 standard for motorcycle rider protective clothing. This represents a major step in the development of high quality modular personal protective equipment for riders.
Also, the industry has contributed to the development of a new and better helmet standard. The Regulation ECE R22.06 will result in more resistant and safer helmets.
Working together with national authorities to achieve better road safety results
Countries such as Sweden, Spain, Norway and the Netherlands have set up national motorcycle safety strategies that have helped them to achieve high motorcycle safety levels. Conversely, countries that adopt restrictive policies or simply ignoring motorcycling reduce awareness from other road users and put riders at higher risk.
In 2017 and 2018 ACEM organized a round of motorcycle safety events in Barcelona, Madrid, Warsaw, Milan and Paris to raise awareness about the importance of safety policies targeting motorcyclists. These meetings brought together experts from different organisations including public authorities from the ministries of transport and infrastructure, law enforcement authorities, representatives from different user organisations, road safety non-governmental organisations, transport research institutes and insurance companies.
“Several initiatives to improve motorcycle safety have been adopted as a result of dialogue between key stakeholders”
The main objective of these events, which built on the work done in 2015³, was to exchange experiences and good practices, and to identify opportunities for safety improvement, rather than prescribing off-the-shelf actions. Some of the key topics covered during the meetings included: motorcycle training, national regional and local motorcycling safety plans, infrastructure design and maintenance and enforcement of traffic regulations.
Several initiatives to improve motorcycle safety have been adopted as a result of this dialogue between key stakeholders. Other actions, although not directly a consequence of this country-specific approach, are fully supported by the sector.
³In 2015 ACEM organised motorcycle safety workshops in five large European cities: Athens, Madrid, Milan, Paris and Warsaw.
Examples of initiatives to improve road safety across the European Union
Germany. In 2015, with the support of the German Ministry of Transport, the Industry association IVM has started the “Motorcycling but safe” project on the Facebook community platform named “VivaLaMopped”, which developed into an online encyclopedia on motorcycle safety for riders and professionals.
France. The Directorate for Road Safety and Traffic launched a pilot programme that will run until 2020 and that allows motorcyclists to split lanes under certain conditions. The goal is to assess whether this practice can enhance traffic fluidity whilst improving motorcycle safety.
Greece. AMVIR, the Greek motorcycle industry association, supported the Ministry of Infrastructure, Transport and Networks who developed an online platform that disseminates road safety education materials (e.g. books, courses, videogames), with the objective to promote safety awareness among high-school students, parents and teachers.
Italy. ANCMA-Confindustria, the motorcycle industry association, together with the Italian Motorcycle Federation and the Italian Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport launched the “Refresh” project that ran between 2015 and 2016. The project, organised across the country, included voluntary motorcycle training sessions specifically designed for riders who were returning to motorcycling after an extended period of time and for people who ride motorcycles of up to 125cc using their B license.
Netherlands. Relevant stakeholders (the Ministry of Transport, Police, the SWOV research institute, users’ organisations, RAI - the industry’s national association, the dealer organisation BOVAG, the Dutch Vehicle Authority RDW and road authorities) joined forces in “Motorplatform”. In 2018, they published the Dutch Motorcycle Safety Action Plan that includes recommendations on safety campaigns, training, infrastructure and ITS.
Poland. PZPM, the motorcycle industry association in Poland, worked together with public authorities and other stakeholders to develop an online road safety platform, which collects data and best practices on motorcycle safety.
Spain. ANESDOR, the Spanish motorcycle industry association, and the Catalan Traffic Service launched ‘Training 3.0.’ in 2015. This project, implemented in different parts of Catalonia and aimed at improving motorcyclists’ riding skills, has trained more than 2,200 motorcyclists who were evaluated by specialised motorcycle trainers and members of Mossos d’Esquadra, the Catalonian police. The project was so successful that it was replicated by national traffic authorities.
A continuous commitment to improving road safety across Europe
The industry will continue working with stakeholders at national level to improve motorcyclists’ safety across Europe. Moreover, the sector will continue to support all the initiatives that promote riders’ safety in the different European countries.
Exchanges between policymakers and industry representatives, such as the joint conference on motorcycle safety organised by ACEM and ANESDOR in Barcelona in 2017, are instrumental in improving motorcycle safety across Europe.