Fri, Oct 13, 2017 - Page 3 News List

More freeways could be open to motorcyclists

FAIL:By only monitoring the behavior of riders on select roadways the trial is unlikely to garner valid results and could see the issue continue unresolved, a legislator said

By Shelley Shan  /  Staff reporter

Motorcycles are parked on Taipei’s Ketagalan Boulevard on July 1 as part of a demonstration by heavy motorcycle owners calling on the government to allow heavy motorcycles on freeways.

Photo: CNA

The Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC) yesterday said it might allow heavy motorcycle riders to access more freeway sections as part of a one-year trial, adding that it is to analyze the results of the first quarter of the program this month.

The one-year trial, which was launched in August following years of petitions from heavy motorcycle owners, lists specific standards that the riders have to meet before the ministry will consider allowing them access all freeways, which include an analysis of the number of fatal accidents caused by motorcycle riders and the number of traffic law infringements issued to riders by police.

Riders are to be evaluated using surveillance camera footage from Formosa Freeway (Freeway No. 3) and Highway No. 64, the only sections that are open to heavy motorcycles.

However, the trial has been criticized in the legislature’s Transportation Committee, at which Minister of Transportation and Communications Hochen Tan (賀陳旦) gave a briefing on the programs progress.

Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Cheng Pao-ching (鄭寶清) said motorcycle-related accidents account for more than half of recorded traffic accidents nationwide, adding that they also lead other types of vehicles in terms of number of people killed in accidents.

“People are not likely to change their riding habits even after they are allowed to access to freeways,” Cheng said.

The ministry is only monitoring the behavior of the riders on the two roadways and people are not likely to demonstrate poor riding behavior while under surveillance, DPP Legislator Cheng Yun-peng (鄭運鵬) said.

Cheng Yun-peng said that Baguashan Tunnel, which connects Changhua and Nantou counties, as well as sections of the east-west freeways should be open to heavy motorcycles during the trial period.

“It could lead to deaths or injuries, but this is the only way to produce valid results. Otherwise neither the ministry nor heavy motorcycle riders will be satisfied at the end of trial and the issue could be unresolved for another 10 years,” he said.

The ministry should not allow heavy motorcycle riders on Chiang Wei-shui Memorial Freeway (Freeway No. 5), DPP Legislator Chen Ou-po (陳歐珀) said, adding that riders would worsen traffic congestion.

The statistics cited by Chen Pao-ching referred to accidents caused by all motorcycle types, not just heavy motorcycles, Hochen said.

“It is not fair to cast all the blame on heavy motorcycle riders,” Hochen said.

The ministry might consider opening more freeway sections to heavy motorcycle riders after the first and second quarter trail reviews, Hocen said, adding that it would allow an evaluation of rider behaviors in more diverse road conditions.

National Freeway Bureau data shows that 60 percent of local governments are opposed to opening freeways to heavy motorcycle riders.

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