Some 1500 Camden key workers have signed an open letter to Camden Councillors urging them to rethink plans which will see nurses, police officers, teachers, delivery workers and others charged up to £6.00 per hour to park the motorcycles they rely on to travel to work.
In the letter, nurses, doctors, maintenance workers, teachers, actors, hairdressers, academics, students, handymen, police, construction workers, motorcycle couriers, Blood Bikers, and local businesses and residents say that they are very concerned about the effects that these changes will have on motorcyclists who live and work in Camden and the devastating effect on Camden’s life and economy.
One signatory, Roseanne Luther, Senior Staff Nurse at University College Hospital, said:
“Not being able to use my motorbike will affect my shift work, especially at weekends due to reduced services. Motorcycling halves my journey time to work. It supports my mental health as I find trains and buses claustrophobic. During the pandemic, using a motorcycle has allowed me to avoid unnecessary contact with the public as I am at high risk of being a carrier and spreading the virus unknowingly. My motorcycle is very efficient, and I do not sit in traffic adding to pollution or to congestion on the roads.”
Many others expressed shock at Camden Council’s extreme proposals, which look set to eliminate motorcycling from the borough. An ambulance technician at Great Ormond Street Hospital, who relies on his motorcycle to travel to work, said:
“I work long, unpredictable shifts, which often begin and end at unsociable times and include Bank Holidays. Public transport is not an option. I would have to relocate and stop working at GOSH.”
A local Blood Biker volunteer expressed fears that, thanks to Camden’s proposals, he and his fellow volunteers will be unable to deliver lifesaving blood to hospitals in Camden. Unable to donate blood due to his LGBT status, he instead volunteers, delivering urgent medical supplies on his motorcycle. The NHS relies on these Blood Bikers who save it millions of pounds every year. They do not have “blue light” status and Camden Council’s proposals to prevent them volunteering in the borough will leave hundreds of local patients at risk of death due to not being able to receive blood transfusions or organ transplants.
Other voices included a Camden Council employee, who commutes into Camden every day by motorcycle and works across the borough, who said that he will not be able to afford to pay for motorcycle parking every day on the wage he earns. Businesses are resigned to closing their doors permanently when the charge is imposed. Gig economy food delivery workers, who often earn less than the minimum wage, will no longer be able to afford to work in Camden, leading to a devastating effect on the takeaway sector.
Spencer McEvoy, Motorcycle Action Group’s Greater London Rep, said:
“Thousands of key workers rely on their motorbikes to be able to get to work. Camden Council’s proposals will be devastating, not only to those key workers but to all Camden residents who rely on these workers’ selfless public service. The very short consultation Camden ran was during a Tier 4 lockdown, when travel patterns did not reflect reality. We have repeatedly asked to meet with Camden Council to explain this to them, but they have refused to engage”.
Camden Council cabinet plans to rubber stamp the charge of up to £6.00 per hour for frontline workers and others who rely on their motorcycles to be able to travel to work in Camden. Concerned Camden residents and workers should write to the Leader of Camden Council and other councillors to let them know that these plans are unacceptable.