Staff Reporter

PALMA
AFTER years of campaigning, motorcyclists on Majorca are claiming they can at last begin to feel safer on the island's roads.
Enemy number one for two-wheel motorised transport has been the sharp metal roadside barriers which, say motorcyclist associations, have caused unnecessary fatalities when riders are unseated in a collision and become trapped or impaled against the metal sheeting. Regional authorities have finally announced that these structures are to be withdrawn and placed with a softer alternative as part of a campaign to reduce accident rates amongst cyclists and motorcyclists . The move is a great victory for the two-wheeler fraternity, as it is a measure it has been demanding this for some time. To date 16 kilometres of the safer barriers have been put in place under agreement between the Council of Majorca and the Committee for the Defence of Motorcyclists. The drivers' association took advantage of a meeting on Wednesday with the Council of Majorca to inform them of the points on the island's road network where they should replace the barriers in the future.

The withdrawal and substitution of the single barriers for double ones is one of the most important initiatives, and for the motorcyclists - it is key to safer use of Majorcan roads. The Committee had long asserted that there is less damage to vehicles and drivers if they can slide off a road surface onto a grass verge - or similar - rather than slam into unyielding barriers which only worsen the crash impact.

During the present regional government's term of office, plans are also in place to eliminate roadside obstacles, or at least to make them safe. One such project involves covering metallic posts (at traffic lights, for example) with tyres. Balearic roads claimed the lives of 36 motorcyclists last year. A sad record, as figures for the previous year put the number of two-wheeled accidents at 29. On Majorca alone, 15 motorcycles and seven mopeds were involved in fatal accidents in 2007. It is calculated that 44 percent of the motorcyclists who died were killed when they hit the “safety” barrier.