Transport bosses have been accused of ‘rushing out’ details of a campaign to improve motorcycle and scooter riders’ safety in order to overshadow a London Assembly report due to be published later this week.
Official statistics show there were 514 serious injuries to motorcyclists and scooter riders in the twelve months ending September 2015, up from 507 the previous year. In the same period the number fatalities in London rose from 27 to 36.
An Assembly report, which was to be published on Thursday, highlights how Transport for London has yet to commission research planned for 2014 “into younger riders and drivers to better understand their attitudes and behaviour to safety”.
TfL has also failed to update its research “to identify any emerging safety issues that lead to fatal collisions,” work which was originally scheduled to start in 2015.
Assembly Members say motorised two-wheelers can play a big part in tackling London’s congestion but add that TfL’s efforts to make riders safer have lacked “the same level of media or political attention as schemes to promote the safety of cycling in London.”
They say the agency needs to update its Motorcycle Safety Action Plan and create a dedicated budget for delivering schemes which improve motorcyclists’ safety.
TfL, which knew the report was being published on Thursday, has announced plans for increased police patrols at accident hotspots. As well as dealing with dangerous driving by all road users, officers will offer road safety advice and provide leaflets on BikeSafe-London rider skills days.
The agency has also published guidance to road designers “to provide a better insight of how road and traffic conditions affect this vulnerable road user group”.
Leon Daniels, Managing Director of Surface Transport, said: “We are fully committed to making London’s roads safer for all, and with this focus on motorcycle and scooter safety, bringing down the number of collisions involving this vulnerable road user group.
“On-street education and enforcement, substantial investment in improving rider skills and guidance to help engineers design roads so that they are safer for riders, all form part of a concerted effort to improve road safety in the Capital.”
However AMs say TfL timed its announcement to divert media attention from their report in order to minimise bad publicity.
Val Shawcross, chair of the Assembly’s transport committee, said: “It’s no coincidence that TfL rushed out a PR release the day before our report was published – they know they’ve not done enough to protect motorcyclists in London.”
She added: “Powered two-wheelers can be the congestion-buster of the future. More and more deliveries could be made by motorbike and electrified motorcycles will have a big impact on pollution levels.
“We have to ensure there is space for all modes of transport on London’s roads and we have to ensure that every road user can get from A to B as safely as possible.”