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Written Statement on Motorcyclist Safety on the Welsh Road Network

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Carl Sargeant, Minister for Local Government and Communities

This statement provides Assembly Members with an update on motorcyclist road safety.

I believe that every fatality on our roads is one too many.  Road traffic collisions, particularly those leading to serious injuries and deaths, are entirely avoidable and can have tragic consequences for those involved and their families.  I am aware of the recent serious collisions involving motorcyclists in South East Wales, but it is not appropriate that I comment on any individual cases.

Motorcyclists are a particularly vulnerable road user group; reflected in the disproportionate numbers who are involved in serious road traffic collisions.  Whilst there is a minority of motorcyclists who do not ride appropriately, the majority are law abiding but physically exposed to any mistakes made by themselves or other road users.

Over the last decade we have seen significant reductions in the number of people being killed and seriously injured on our roads.  This is very welcome, but I am well aware that there is much more to do.  The Welsh Government is committed to further reducing incidents in which people are killed and seriously injured.  The majority of road user groups have seen significant improvements, but we have not seen comparable reductions in casualties amongst motorcyclists.  This is something that we and our partners are committed to addressing.

Welsh police authorities work very hard to tackle motorcycle safety. They lead the Welsh Government funded ‘Bikesafe’ scheme, delivered collaboratively with the Fire and Rescue Service and local authorities.  This UK-wide scheme is a training programme teaching riders advanced skills and educating them about the dangers of inappropriate riding.  Our four police authorities also work together (and other agencies, including Go Safe and local authorities) to target routes popular with motorcyclists, particularly on fine and dry days in the summer months when numbers are at their greatest.  The focus is primarily on education – talking to riders and advising them on how to stay safe. They also use targeted enforcement on certain routes to discourage unsafe riding.

The Welsh Government is providing £6.5m of road safety funding to local authorities this financial year, a proportion of which will be used to target reductions in motorcyclist casualties through publicity and training.  For example, a new advanced rider scheme is currently being piloted in South West Wales, introduced to complement Bikesafe and subject to evaluation to assess its suitability for a rollout across Wales.  I believe that this work is valuable and has contributed to a fall in the total number of casualties amongst motorcyclists for the fifth consecutive year.

However, I believe there is far more that can be done to reduce these numbers.  This is why as part of the Road Safety Delivery Plan, which I will be consulting on in the coming months, we will set a specific national target for motorcyclist casualty reduction.  I believe that this will contribute to ensuring that all organisations involved in road safety focus resources on this group, and we can make the improvements that are clearly needed.