The Guidelines

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Road Safety Audit

8.6 Urban Schemes

Motorcycle collisions in urban areas typically involve another vehicle and often occur in situations where the rider has priority.  It is therefore essential to check that:

  • side-road sight lines for emerging drivers at junctions do not ‘hide’ motorcycle riders, especially those on lower powered machines, who tend to ride nearer to the kerb 
  • skid resistance at junctions is appropriate, especially where a change in junction control is being made (eg from a priority junction to a signalised junction).
  • lane widths are appropriate, particularly nearside lanes on multilane single and dual carriageways.  This is important in areas subject to a 40mph speed limit, where mopeds (limited to 30mph) can be ‘swamped’ by passing traffic and where there are high numbers of HGVs.
  • traffic calming schemes take account of the needs and vulnerabilities of motorcyclists (Chapter 3).

8.6.1 Rural Schemes

Rural motorcycle collisions often involve no other vehicles, and frequently occur on bends. Check for:

  • Location of service covers and their skid resistance (see 8.5.1.1).
  • Road markings (see 8.5.1.2 and 8.5.4.3).  Reduced effectiveness of motorcycle headlights makes night-time retroreflectivity performance of road markings in rural areas especially important.
  • Cross-sectional profile.  This issue can be particularly unforgiving for motorcyclists. Cornering on a motorcycle, especially at rural road speeds, involves a degree of planning, skill and technique.  If the cross-sectional profile of the road does not conform to expectations, the rider may not have time to make the necessary fadjustments and crash.
  • The ‘clear zone’ on the outside of bends is especially pertinent in the rural environment (see 8.5.2).
  • Excessive visibility to the right on high-speed approaches to rural roundabouts. This is a safety issue for all road users and is not catered for in the current design standard.  It also has two implications for motorcyclists:
    1. When the motorcycle is the approaching vehicle, it can encourage excessive entry speed and lead to ‘loss of control collisions’; and
    2. When the motorcycle is the circulating vehicle, it can encourage other drivers to use excessive approach speeds, increasing the chance of drivers ‘looking but not seeing’ and an entering circulating collision.
  • The extent of ‘offside deflection’ on rural high speed roundabout approaches, especially on dual carriageways.  The current design standard provides mandatory values for deflection based on entry path curvature – a line intended to emulate the easiest route through a junction, ignoring lane markings.  This works well when vehicles can choose such a path.  However, under modern traffic conditions riders (and drivers) often use the offside lane when the nearside lane is occupied by slower vehicles.  This can lead some drivers and riders to collide with the central island. Implementing the advice in section 7.17 of the standard should reduce this problem (DTp 1993).
  • A sealed surface at an appropriate distance back from the highway in order to prevent loose material collecting on the road.
  • In recent years, a number of local authorities in England have implemented area-wide 20mph limits in an effort to reduce vehicle speeds in predominantly residential areas.   This mechanism also seeks to change driver/rider attitudes to speed in urban areas.  The DfT has issued a special direction that allows the use of repeater signs in 20mph zones (instead of physical measures) provided that at least one physical measure exists in the zone.  These area-wide schemes aim to create conditions in which drivers and riders naturally drive at around 20 mph. Lowering the speed limit improves road safety by reducing the severity and frequency of all collisions, including those involving motorcyclists.