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MRF February 2020 Update

By Andy Kelly
December 10, 2019 was the last face to face meeting for the Motorcycle Advisory Council at the National Highway Institute in Arlington VA. The Motorcycle Advisory Council (MAC) was part of the Fixing Americaís Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act). The MACís purpose is to identify engineering-related infrastructure solutions that can reduce fatalities involving motorcyclists.

The original Motorcycle Advisory Council was established in a 2005 Highway bill. The 2005 law called for the Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration to have a dialogue with the motorcycle community about infra-structure issues of concern to motorcyclists. The council has 10 members consisting of representatives from the motorcycle community as well as individuals with professional expertise in national motorcycle safety. According to the 2005 law, four of the ten council members were to include members of the motorcycle community from various state and federal motorcycle associations the other six members serve to provide the necessary time to give expertise related to roadway design safety and other issues.

When the 2005 highway bill expired the MAC expired with it. The MAC was the only official forum that we as motorcyclists could express our issues that we faced on the road to the Department of Transportation. This is why the Motorcycle Riders Foundation lobbied to have the MAC in the 2016 highway bill.

The MAC is responsible for providing advice and recommendations to the Federal Highway Administration concerning infrastructure issues relating to motorcycle safety. The first area of discussion was barrier design. I was surprised how changes to barrier design such as more forgiving rail placed between the ground and the steel rail on the guardrails you find on roadways could help stop serious injury. Another design was a system that looks like a net to stop riders from being thrown over the guardrail down a steep embankment or roadway below.

The second area of discussion was road design, construction and maintenance. Items like pavement drop-offs caused by road grinding or paving, metal/steel plates in roadways, manhole covers and storm drains, tar snakes, fresh seal coat (chip seal) and also low friction pavement markings.

The last area discussed was about Intelligent Transportation Systems (ITS) and Autonomous vehicles. At this point any intelligent transportation technology must be required to be developed with motorcycles as a specific vehicle class,a nd a set motorcycle specific written policies, guidelines, and procedures to address the unique requirement of how a motorcycle operates.

All of these are just recommendations to be sent to the Secretary of Transportation and if the recommendations are accepted they should be put into the Strategic Highway Safety Plans for States to follow in highway construction and maintenance practices.

Remember, 14% of traffic fatalities are motorcyclists in the United States but motorcycles represent less than 1% of vehicle miles driven. Hopefully with motorcycle training, motorcycle friendly roadways and technology we can make huge changes in these numbers.

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