Improving infrastructure for PTWs: Key Challenges

PTW riders are more sensitive to road design and maintenance than car drivers. The design of roadway elements influences how a road user interacts with the roadway. These elements include bends, junctions, the road surface and the roadside. The general influence of road environment factors on the driving speed, level of vigilance, attention paid, accident severity is a well-known fact. Where an environmental perturbation can be managed by a car driver, it can be a real challenge for a PTW rider.

Since the first pan-European in-depth study on PTW accidents (MAIDS, 2004), several important milestones have been reached as regards PTWs and infrastructure needs:

  • A number of guidelines on how to design and maintain roads with PTWs in mind have been published.

However, most of them remain just good intentions and are hardly used by local authorities and road engineers:

  • The “Infrastructure Directive” (European Directive 2008/96/EC) has been adopted by Europe.

However, the Directive has hardly been used by road authorities to improve PTW safety and does not apply to the road network responsible for the largest number of PTW accidents, namely secondary roads.

  • EuroRAP has included some PTW features in its star-rating system.

But not all EU countries use either the EURORAP star-rating system or other road assessment programmes

  • The CEN/TC226 has adopted a technical specification for Motorcycle Protective Systems

However, the CEN/TS1317-8 is still only a non-binding technical specification, despite years of campaigning. TS1317-8 should fully integrate EN1317, the European standard applied by all Member States in their national standards, and be included in their national road design guidelines.

The need for political commitment

Today, one can say that with regard to infrastructure and PTW safety, all necessary preliminary steps have been taken, and all relevant experts agree on the need to better integrate PTW needs into road design, maintenance, and auditing/inspection. The necessary information and expertise is available in Europe. It is now a question of putting it all together, starting with the information collected within the project.

Without a clear political commitment to tackle infrastructure issues, market competition will play a delaying role deterring improvements. The example of EN1317 on roadside barriers (guardrails) and protection for PTWs is illustrative of the necessary time it takes for a standard to evolve without the involvement of public authorities.

 Disseminating the information

Disseminating correct information, making road authorities, planners and engineers aware of the problems on the one hand and existing solutions on the other hand, is another challenge that Europe should consider tackling.

In an attempt to contribute to a solution, the RIDERSCAN project has delivered the following outcomes:

Directly available from this website are:

A Motorcyclist Protection System Database provides an overview of available motorcycle protection systems (MPS). The database targets road authorities, explaining to them the status of existing motorcyclist protection systems. Manufacturers are called upon to enter their MPS, while road authorities can compare existing products available on the market and use sophisticated search functions

Guidelines for road restraint systems – A handbook for road authorities and infrastructure operators to upgrade existing road restraint systems. The Guidelines present solutions available to road authorities and infrastructure operators wishing to upgrade road restraint systems, presenting the current technical standards available, statistical data and in-depth research, accident profile configurations, as well as best practices and success stories. In addition, it features a comprehensive list of road restraint products available on the market today, their characteristics, their use, the standards against which they have been tested, and guidelines on where and how they should be used to gain the best benefit.

Using riders’ community to identify road hazards (black spots) (Annex 16)

Several initiatives, including the actual writing of PTW/Infrastructure guidelines in some cases, have directly leveraged rider community expertise. These initiatives have been praised on several occasions by road authorities as they enable them to increase the efficiency of their actions.

Examples of such initiatives can be found here:

New technologies and smart applications are providing new opportunities to involve the rider community in identifying black spots in support of local road authorities’ efforts to improve the road network.

To this end, the project worked at designing a pan-European road hazard report form, which could support local initiatives while at the same time contributing to a common understanding of road hazard problems. The questionnaire targets everyday riders.

Research needs (Annex 6, Annex 14)

PTWs have certain special characteristics which, according to the research community, directly or indirectly impact road transport research outcomes, whether for the safety of PTW users or road safety in general.

Dedicated consideration is required to gain a better understanding of PTW dynamics and interaction with traffic, and of specific accident causation factors, enabling us to identify risk domains and risk-contributing factors.

With specific regard to the infrastructure, the fact that PTWs are single-track vehicles, without an encapsulating protective shell, means that a rider may have difficulty handling tasks while controlling the vehicle, in particular when cornering or braking and even more so in emergency situations to mitigate or avoid an accident. Even with excellent brakes and tyres, vehicle control in all kinds of situations requires special training and experience or specific riding assistance systems on board the PTW. The single-track character also implies that riders have more difficulty coping with imperfect road surfaces and obstacles on the road.

Among the identified research needs in the field of infrastructure, the research community lists the following:

Better understanding of PTW – infrastructure interactions

  • Improved data collection
  • In-depth understanding of the vehicle-road interaction and its dynamics, including detailed analysis with simulation tools (vehicle-infrastructure interaction simulation)
  • Research on accident scenarios and biomechanics
  • Incorporation of data gathered in naturalistic riding studies
  • Interaction between motorcycle tyres and road surface conditions

Safer road design

  • Understand the effects of the road environment on road users
  • A more forgiving road environment
  • Making roads self-explaining for PTWs
  • Improve the environment to enhance reciprocal perception of riders and drivers
  • “Friction measuring” research
  • Infrastructural measures to reduce speeds (such as humps or lane narrowing) have to be re-evaluated from the point of view of PTW rider safety
  • Roadside obstacles need to be designed to provide better protection for PTW riders who may collide with them

Road maintenance

  • Development of more durable roads that are easier to maintain in a good state
  • Development of “holistic asset management solutions”; how to make work zones safe?

Black spot management

  • Research on local accidents and on suitable countermeasures.

For detailed research topics and recommendations, please refer to the report on Needs for Policy Actions



The work presented in this document is supported by the European Union’s Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport – Directorate C: Innovative & sustainable mobility (C.4 Road Safety) (Grant agreement MOVE/C4/SUB/2010-125/SI2.603201/RIDERSCAN). The content of this document is the sole responsibility of the Federation of European Motorcyclists’ Associations (FEMA) and it does not represent the opinion of the European Union and the European Union is not responsible or liable for any use that might be made of information contained herein.