In­ner-city bike bans are hard to swal­low

Motorcycle News (UK) - - Comment - Gareth Ash­man, 01733-468118

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.

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