Was This The Worst Road Safety Idea for Motorcyclists?
Thankfully, the Irish Have Done Something About Itby Harry Fisher, on LISTEN 02:33
For many years, Armco steel barriers have lined not only race tracks but also highways and byways. Then someone had the bright idea to use cables as barriers which might be fine for cars and trucks, but not so great for a sliding motorcyclist.
Steel Cable Barriers Banned In Ireland
Motorcyclists are vulnerable enough without putting extra obstacles in their way. The advent of Armco steel barriers along highways and other major roads stop us from careering into oncoming traffic or solid roadside objects such as trees and telegraph poles and so on, but they are rather unyielding unless you are a ten ton truck.
Then, someone had the bright idea of substituting the steel barriers with steel cables; cheaper and would do the same job. However, it doesn’t take a genius to realise that a steel cable, when impacted at speed by an unprotected human body, is more like a saw blade, with catastrophic results.
The Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) in the UK has long been lobbying to have the cable barriers recognised as a hazard to motorcyclists. In 2020, this recognition was given governmental approval and the Northern Ireland government has decided to act to remove the cable barriers and replace them with sold steel ones.
It won’t happen immediately across the whole of Northern Ireland. Rather than a rip-them-out-and-replace task, it will be implemented slowly as cables are damaged or become due for replacement. They will be replaced with steel barriers that have a life of 50 years or more.
Speaking on the rule change, MAG NI Representative Martyn Boyd has said:
“We know we won’t see wire rope barriers being ripped out wholesale and replaced immediately, but it is still great news for rider safety in the long term and I’m confident that I achieved the best realistic result possible. I’m very pleased to have achieved such a positive outcome for motorcyclists regarding this issue.”
While it might seem like a small victory, it does have huge implications for future motorcyclists. While it is only being implemented in Northern Ireland at the present time, who’s to say that the legislation won’t spread around the world? Motorcycle safety is often largely ignored by governments or, at best, ill-informed. This should be seen as a positive effect of a dedicated group of ordinary people talking to an intelligent government.
Hang on, did I just say ’intelligent government’? Surely there’s no such thing!