Safety Improvements Make Road Unsafe For Motorcycles

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Welcome to clown world….

With the strict government coronavirus restrictions easing in the United Kingdom, many people are understandably eager to start attending the many storied annual events there. One of those is the Brighton Speed Trials which have been held on Madeira Drive in Brighton since 1905. There’s a really great story about how Sir Harry Preston was able to persuade the town council into tarmacking the road as a way to attract automotive events, a strategy which worked brilliantly. Too bad Preston isn’t still around, because he might have foreseen the latest “safety” improvements applied to the road have made it unsafe for motorcycles.

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File this under “ironic” or “unintended consequences” – I don’t really care which since they seem to go together so often these days when it comes to the never-ending quest for impeccable safety. Just like how road fatalities in the United States and other countries have actually increased as government mandates shove more “driver assistance” technologies into cars, improvements made to Madeira Drive have made the road less safe for those who travel on two wheels.

Vintage Motor Cycle Club helped break the bad news in a Facebook post on August 20, announcing motorcycles won’t be taking part in the annual event, which wasn’t held last year. After an Auto-Cycle Union inspection of the track, it was determined a track certificate and permit couldn’t be issued. Among the reasons why were the cycling lanes painted green and pedestrian crossings painted red, plus “projections which have been moved during recent works… (which) are a cause for concern.”

Painting bike lanes (for cyclists, not those riding motorcycles) and pedestrian crossings isn’t unique to the UK. I’ve seen this in US cities as well, supposedly as a way to make streets safer. And I’ve also heard of the paint becoming slick in the rain, making these zones less safe for everyone. While it wasn’t disclosed that was a concern, I wouldn’t be surprised if the slickness of the painted surfaces is an issue.

If the paint is too slick to allow for motorcycles to race on the track, assuming that’s the reason since nobody will elaborate, how could that be considered safe for motorcycles in daily riding situations? Would it be safe for cyclists and pedestrians? There are many questions here and few answers. Part of me wonders if the lack of exposition on the details of why the track was deemed unsafe for motorcycle racing isn’t intentional. After all, citizens might have questions and demand changes be made to the road.

Then again, it might just be that riders in the event push their machines so hard these “safety improvements” become dangerous. Without further information it’s impossible to know.

As for the “projections” which sound like objects hanging out which motorcyclists might hit while navigating the track. Hopefully these aren’t an issue on normal day as people are obeying the traffic laws, but it does make one think. Since details haven’t been released there’s no way of knowing one way or the other.

Sadly, an event which has catered to motorcycle racing for over a century won’t have any motorcycles in it, all thanks to “safety innovations.” Is this a sign of things to come, both in the UK and elsewhere? I hope not.

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