GCP Sustainable Travel Zone consultation: ‘Making Connections’ with prejudice.

The Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) claims that the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) proposals to charge motorcycles to enter a Sustainable Travel Zone are based on misinformation and prejudice.  GCP launched its Making Connections consultation on 17th October.  Included in the consultations are plans to charge all motorised vehicles, including motorcycles, a flat rate of £5 per day to enter what is being billed as a Sustainable Travel Zone.

GCP Sustainable Travel Zone

MAG activists in Cambridge caught wind of the plans to consult on a sustainable travel zone weeks before the consultation launch.  They quickly found that the proposal was to charge motorcycles the same £5 charge as cars.  Approaches were made to open dialogue with GCP, which they ignored.

A Freedom of Information (FOI) request showed that a formal presentation delivered to Cambridgeshire County Council listed reasons to charge motorcycles, including that the charge would be a “strong deterrent to proliferation”.  Arguments against a full exemption for motorcycles are listed as “Lack of £ disincentive may encourage uptake as people switch from car” and “Inherently less safe mode; incompatible with pedal cycles”.   Arguments against a reduced charge for motorcycles included the statement that “rear-plate images are harder to accurately capture”.

A technical note discussing exemptions assesses motorcycles as having “no significant impact on congestion reduction, sustainable travel or air quality and safety benefits”.

Commenting on the findings, MAG’s Director of Campaigns & Political Engagement, Colin Brown, said:

“Once again, we are dealing with what can only be described as anti-motorcycling prejudice.  Claims that motorcycles are inherently less safe and incompatible with pedal cycles are unfounded.  I have checked the figures for Cambridgeshire: in 2021 there were 58 motorcycle casualties on urban roads in the county compared with 172 cycle casualties.  Claiming that motorcycles are incompatible with pedal cycles naturally implies that pedal cycles are incompatible with motorcycles, yet that argument is not made.   I would like to see any evidence base for these incompatibility claims.  And saying that you cannot apply a lower charge due to difficulties with ANPR cameras reading rear plates is sheer stupidity: how do they intend capturing rear plates for the full charge?!  Had the council been willing to engage with us we could have provided plenty of evidence for motorcycles reducing congestion and improving air quality.  It seems that Cambridgeshire would rather engage with bias and misinformation than take the time to speak to those who actually ride motorcycles.”

MAG is calling for all riders in the region to make their views known by responding to the consultation and writing to councillors.  MAG will continue to press for dialogue with the council in an attempt to bring a balanced view of motorcycling to the decision-making process.