Carriageway manhole covers, especially on bends, can present a potentially lethal danger to motorcyclists but this could all change if revisions to the European Standard for them, proposed by the UK, is agreed.
It is well known that over time some manhole cover surfaces become smooth and polished and if wet, very slippery, but thanks to the work undertaken by the National Motorcycle Council i.e. The British Motorcyclists Federation (BMF), Institute of Highway Incorporated Engineers (IHIE), Motor Cycle Industry Association MCIA, Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) RAC Foundation and Devon County Council, the UK committee working on the revision of European Standard EN124 have agreed unanimously to recommend a minimum ?polished skid resistance value for manhole covers’.
This will give manhole covers the equivalent grip of good quality road surfacing but in addition, the suggested revised standard also allows for the use of an even higher grip cover in areas of greater concern, such as bends.
The work was brought about due to a lack of effective skid resistance requirements for manhole covers in the present standard, BS EN 124. This is of particular concern as manholes to allow access to underground services are often found on bends, a location where motorcyclists can be particularly vulnerable due to a sudden change in grip when cornering.
The next stage will be to address this matter at a European level to gain support and agreement from the other countries. Achieving this should lead to a change in the EN124 standard and a safer European-wide road network for bikers.
David Short, MAG Campaigns Manager said, “The Government is always talking about joined up thinking in support of road safety and the work undertaken by these different organisations just show what can be achieved when everyone works together. It is the simple measures that can make so much difference and save lives. The European and UK Government now need to show some leadership, effect a change in the skid resistance standard and make our roads safer for vulnerable road users.
Welcoming the agreement, Chris Hodder, the BMF’s Government Relations Executive said: “I would like to thank Devon County Council’s Material’s Laboratory and the IHIE for their work on this. As motorcyclists we know we need a level of skid resistance equal to that of the main carriageway, but what we needed was a technical specification and that’s what we have now been able to agree on.”
Sheila Rainger, Head of Campaigns for the RAC Foundation added “No-one needs to be put at risk by a slippery manhole cover in the road surface. Safer covers are available but they are rarely used because the current European Standard does not require covers to be skid-resistant in real-world conditions. If the UK is successful in amending the standard, the roads will be safer for motorcyclists and for other vulnerable road users.”
Download FEMA’s Response to the Consultation on pr CEN124 2007 as PDF
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