26th June 2014 - For immediate use
The Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) has expressed amazement at the British Motorcyclists Federation (BMF) 'inexplicable' decision to cave in to the Council's proposals to build a dangerous roundabout in the town. MAG Chairman, John Mitchell, has said 'if this insane Bedford scheme goes ahead it strikes a killer blow against motorcyclists' rights to have their safety considered in line with other vulnerable road user groups such as cyclists. I can't understand how a riders' group like the BMF can possibly be supporting it, unless they really have failed to grasp what this scheme is all about – and that it's a potential killer.'
The latest plan to introduce what are known as 'turbo roundabout' principles in central Bedford were hastily drawn up by pro-cycling group Sustrans last month, after MAG caused Bedford to abandon two earlier proposals on grounds of safety. The proposal includes two 'pinch points' to 'squeeze' traffic into a narrowed channel on a roundabout used by 25,000 vehicles per day. Unglamorously known as 'Plan 2B,' it also uses raised 'spurs' of kerbing to funnel all vehicles into two channels on opposite sides of the roundabout. These channels are less than half the width of the current lane. MAG's Policy Adviser, former BMF Chairman Dr Leon Mannings first challenged Bedford's proposals in April 2013. Dr Mannings says, 'the Council is doing this in the hope it would make cyclists 'feel safer'. MAG has no issue with schemes to help cyclists feel safer - unless the measures have significant adverse impacts on safety for those on scooters, mopeds and motorbikes – and indeed bicycles. Sadly, ALL the proposals have included new obstructions which many experts in the motorcycling AND cycling fraternities regard as new hazards that could seriously injure or even kill bikers on machines with motors or pedals.' Dr Mannings and his colleague Lembit Öpik, MAG's Director of Comms & Public Affairs have had a series of talks with the DfT to discuss MAG's objections: the DfT is allocating £420k of taxpayers' money to the scheme via their Cycle Safety Programme. MAG described the sessions as 'seemingly productive.' Thus it came as a total surprise when they learned that Graeme Hay, the BMF's newly Government Relations Executive, had submitted a report in support of Plan 2B. Leon adds 'up till that point, the BMF had expressed no interest in Bedford's proposals, nor had they had any involvement at all with discussions during the preceding 18 months. Indeed, Mr Hay had only taken office the week in which he wrote and submitted his report.' The DfT has now given Bedford the go-ahead to implement the scheme and the council has told MAG that they will start work in the next two weeks. In response, MAG has insisted that Bedford conduct a public consultation about the new proposal as it is so significantly different to the original proposals. Leon adds 'this scheme is crazy. If the BMF continues to support it, I have to assume they simply haven't understood the basic dangers of it. MAG will campaign for Plan 2B NOT to be built, despite the BMF's apparent last minute support for a scheme that can kill riders.'
Contact either Lembit Öpik or Leon Mannings via MAG Central Office.
Tel. 01926 844064
* The planned scheme is being considered at the Union Street junction with Clapham road. The most recent design is a new proposal, and has been created by pro-cycling group Sustrans.
* The new proposal was a response to MAG's successful bid to request Bedford to abandon two other proposals.
* A key concern for MAG is that the latest proposal involves the creation of two new pinch points on a roundabout which handles a high volume of traffic - approximately 25,000 vehicles per day. Plan 2B includes raised spurs of kerbing to funnel all vehicles into channels on opposite sides of the roundabout. These massively reduce the room for manoeuvre for vehicles under threat of collision from other vehicles.
* Plan 2A also contained two raised kerb lane dividers - Plan 2B has two new pinch points with raised kerb spurs built out from traffic islands to encourage an early choice of lane before exit points.
* MAG was not informed prior to Graeme Hay of the BMF submitting a report, even though MAG had clearly led on the issue with no request for involvement nor apparent interest in the BMF until the last minute. The BMF has attended none of the discussions about the issue during the preceding 18 months. Mr Hay had only taken office at the beginning of the week in which he submitted his report.
* As Bedford's application for the DfT's Cycle Safety Programme grant shows here ( http://is.gd/b59oNf ) – they had to go back ten years to find eight serious casualties on a junction that accommodates 25,000 vehicles per day, of which only 2 were cyclists, 3 were pedestrians alongside 1 motorcyclist and 2 in cars.