Inner-city bike bans are hard to swallow
Motorcycles are being banned from many city centres around the world and that’s a worrying trend. But whether it’s time to wheel out the soap box (it’s a big soap box which is why it’s got wheels), remains to be seen.
Over 30 large conurbations in China have either banned motorcycles or issued restrictions. These measures are largely aimed at curbing the use of huge numbers of illegal machines. Fatal accidents involving bikes have also been a factor in forcing the hand of central and local law-makers.
There have also been car and bike bans in Mexico City and New Delhi as pollution levels soar. More recently, and much closer to home, Paris has banned cars made before 1997 and pre-1999 bikes.
Despite protests, the laws kicked in over six weeks ago and fines for flouting the law will be ramped up between now and the end of the year. Germany is also looking at banning older diesel vehicles in its biggest cities. London won’t escape either. After a consultation period, a move to charge highpolluting vehicles from 2020 has been approved. It will see motorcycles made before 2007 (when Euro3 emissions laws came into force) charged £12.50 a day – the same as cars.
There is a sound argument for us all doing a lot more to battle rising pollution levels – it’s estimated that air pollution costs France 100 billion Euros a year and annually causes 42,000 premature deaths (according to the World Health Organisation). But we must be on high alert that this does not become an excuse to victimise motorcycling. Or simply that two-wheelers are lumped into car legislation without due consideration. Why, for example, are motorcycles to be charged the same as cars when the new laws come into force in London in 2020?
Bikes are currently exempt from the Congestion Charge (which is where the Ultra Low Emission Zone will operate), because presumably we don’t cause congestion, we ease it.
We need to use our voice and our vote to ensure ignorant politicians don’t brush biking under the same carpet as cars.