Campaigners say there needs to be improvement in safety for motorcyclists after four bikers died on roads in Greater Manchester in the space of just five days
Four men, aged from 19 to 46, perished after fatal crashes in Salford, Wigan and Trafford last week. Police and road safety charities have now urged road users to be more aware of motorcyclists due to their ‘vulnerability’ whilst also urging other bikers to ‘take care.’
The first tragedy happened just before 6am on the A57 Liverpool Road, near Barton Airport, on Wednesday, March 16, when a motorbike collided with a car. Its rider, a 46 year-old man, sadly died at the scene. The driver of the car – a Ford Fiesta – remained to speak to officers, police said.
READ MORE: Tributes to boy, 16, killed in police chase as inquest opens
Two days later, at around 7.10pm on the evening of Friday March, 18, a bike was involved in a smash with a car on Leigh Road in the Boothstown area of Salford. The rider, a man in his 30s – suffered fatal injuries and was sadly pronounced dead at the scene.
His family have been informed and are being supported by specially trained officers, GMP said. The car driver remained at the scene and is helping police with their inquiries.
Just hours later, a 19 year-old man lost his life after his bike ploughed into a wall outside a pub in Wigan. It happened outside Monty’s pub on Chapel Street in Leigh at around 1:50 am in the early hours of Saturday March 19.
Despite the best efforts of paramedics, he was pronounced dead at the scene. He has since been named as trainee chef Kyle Jowett-described as ‘one of a kind’ by his devastated family.
And just a day later, Sunday March 20, a biker fell from his Yahama MT-07 ABS motorcycle whilst riding in tandem with two others down Church Road in Urmston shortly before 10am. The 33 year-old was rushed to hospital but later died from his injuries. His next of kin of him have been informed. Officers believe he may have crashed with one of the other riders.
Ronnie Neilson, from Greater Manchester Police’s Roads Policing Unit, said: “It is always a tragedy when someone is seriously injured or killed on our roads. Our officers are committed to ensuring that everyone can get home to their loved ones safe and sound, and we will continue to target those who use our roads in a manner that puts them or others at risk.
“I would also ask that all road users are being safe and responsible. Motorcyclists do not have the same protection as someone in a car, so it’s important that drivers take extra care when over taking and leave plenty of space, as well as ensuring that they look properly when at a junction.
“Motorcyclists too can take action to help keep themselves and others safe on the roads, by riding responsibly, taking extra care at junctions as well as wearing high-visibility clothing.”
Road safety campaigners have also spoken out on the issue. Claire Roantree, is a lawyer whose firm is part of the Major Trauma Team, who works with the British Biker Relief Foundation, a charity that supports motorcyclists and their families across the UK after serious and life-changing injuries.
She said on behalf of the charity: “It’s just absolutely shocking. It’s such a high amount of fatalities in such a short period of time in one part of the country.
“Obviously not many details about the individual circumstances of these cases have yet been disclosed. But they have happened in different areas, on different roads and on different types of roads. This proves the point that wherever motorcyclists are they are at risk and are more vulnerable than other road users.”
The Highway Code was recently updated with a ‘hierarchy of road users’. It gives those who have the potential to cause greater harm – such as drivers of passenger vehicles and cars – more responsibility to protect those around them.
Claire said that as motorbikes are ‘mechanically propelled vehicles’, they were ranked alongside drives of other vehicles. But she said she believes more needs to be done to acknowledge their particular vulnerabilities on the road.
“We do expect to sadly sometimes see motorcyclists suffering serious and life-changing injuries. But the fact that all these people have tragically died shows just how vulnerable they are.
“We think there should be more education done around motorcycle safety and awareness of motorcyclists more generally. Many motorists just don’t know the rules around motorcycle safety, such as that it is legal to filter so long as it is done safely.
“Not everyone checks their blind spots, especially at junctions and when turning left and right. And we have an awful lot of people involved in near misses.
“It’s particularly important as in the future modes of transport are going to be much more diverse and sustainable and there needs to be more awareness of more vulnerable road users. We think there is much more that needs to be done and this proves that point. “
Transport for Greater Manchester said the cluster of fatalities was ‘devastating’. They said work on a ‘road danger reduction plan’ that they hope will reduce the number of serious collisions and will better protect vulnerable road users such as motorcyclists.
Head of Highways, Peter Boulton, said: “It’s devastating that four people have lost their lives in road collisions over the course of just a few days, and my thoughts are with the family and friends of those who have tragically died. One fatal road accident is one too many. Through the Safer Roads Partnership we are developing a road danger reduction action plan that will reduce the number of collisions that result in death or serious injury, and help to keep our most vulnerable road users, such as motorcyclists, safe.
“My message is a simple one: please take care. Whether driving, walking, or traveling by bike, we all have a responsibility to use our roads safely and by doing so can prevent other families from experiencing the pain and loss these four families are now having to endure.”
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.