Motorcycle Monday: Safety Improvements Make Road Unsafe For Motorcycles
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Welcome to the clown world….
As the UK government's tough coronavirus restrictions are relaxed, many people are understandably eager to attend the many famous annual events there. One of them is the Brighton Speed Trials, which have been taking place on Madeira Drive in Brighton since 1905. There's a really great story about how Sir Harry Preston persuaded the city council to pave the street to attract automotive events, a strategy that worked brilliantly. It's a shame Preston isn't around because he may have foreseen that the latest "safety" improvements on the road have made them unsafe for motorcycles.
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File this under "ironic" or "unintended consequences" - I don't care which, as they so often seem to go together these days when it comes to the never-ending pursuit of impeccable safety. Just as road deaths have actually increased in the United States and elsewhere as governments incorporate more "driver assistance" technology into cars, improvements to Madeira Drive have made the road less safe for those who ride two wheels .
The Vintage Motor Cycle Club helped spread the bad news in a Facebook post on August 20th announcing that motorcycles would not be participating in the annual event, which did not happen last year. After an inspection of the route by the Auto-Cycle Union, it was found that a route certificate and permit could not be issued. On the reasons why the cycle lanes have been painted green and pedestrian crossings have been painted red, and "projections that have been postponed during the recent work ... (which) are cause for concern".
The painting of cycle lanes (for cyclists, not motorcyclists) and pedestrian crossings is not unique in the UK. I've seen this in US cities too, ostensibly as a way to make the streets safer. And I've also heard about the paint getting slippery in the rain, making these zones less safe for everyone. While this was not disclosed to be an issue, I wouldn't be surprised if the smoothness of the painted surfaces was an issue.
If the paint is too slick to allow motorbikes to run on the track, assuming that is the reason since no one is going to elaborate on it, how could that be considered safe for motorbikes in everyday driving situations? Would it be safe for cyclists and pedestrians? There are many questions and few answers here. Part of me is wondering if the failure to provide the details of why the track has been classified as unsafe for motorcycle racing is not the intent. After all, citizens might have questions and demand changes to the road.
On the other hand, it is possible that the drivers of the event drive their machines so hard that these "safety improvements" become dangerous. Without further information it is impossible to know.
As for the "projections" that sound like hanging objects that motorcyclists might hit while navigating the route. Hopefully these aren't an issue on normal days as people obey traffic rules, but it is thought-provoking. With no details published, there is no way to know one thing or the other.
At an event that has been dedicated to motorcycle racing for over a century, there will unfortunately be no motorcycles thanks to "safety innovations". Is this a sign of the future, both in the UK and elsewhere? I hope not.
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