Move on Motorcycling

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Over a million motorcyclists will vote in the forthcoming general election.  Bikers are voters, yet their interests have endured years of neglect by policymakers. The motorcycling community asks little but contributes a great deal to society, the economy, and the environment. Motorcycling is a way of life that brings people together, encourages self-reliance, and generates real community spirit. Motorcyclists perform a vital role in society, delivering a wide range of products from food to urgent medical supplies, working within the blue light services, and charitable work by rider clubs and organisations helps to keep the third sector functioning.  By embracing motorcycling and the vibrant constituency we represent, Government can achieve better outcomes for the whole nation through reduced congestion, improved labour mobility, cleaner air, a better environment, crime reduction and social cohesion.

Now is the time for policymakers to Move on Motorcycling.

We seek a Government that will facilitate and encourage new riders into the motorcycling community, recognise and exploit the benefits motorcycling offers as an integral part of sustainable transport in the UK, and retreat from the blinkered forced-electrification mandate that can only stifle innovation and destroy our way of life. We seek a Government that will move the national attitude toward motorcycling, embracing its sustainability benefits and positively encouraging its adoption. In short, we seek a Government that will firmly break with the past, scrap the proposed ban on internal combustion engine-powered vehicles (ICEVs) along with the staged EV sales targets for manufacturers, and let motorcycling flourish.

As we head into the General Election, riders will be asking: ‘will any political party show the leadership, vision, and ability to deliver a better future for motorcycling?’

MAG remains willing to help policy makers formulate good policy.  But politicians that are prepared to Move on Motorcycling are the first step.  We are asking all parliamentary candidates:  ‘why should bikers vote for you?’

1. Let motorcycling flourish

Since the pandemic, evidence shows that there is potential for an increased uptake of motorcycling in the UK. The small recovery post-pandemic has brought motorcycle use back to the levels of the mid-1990s. Significant growth is a realistic expectation provided Government policy encourages and supports it, rather than discouraging and suppressing it.

Removing the existential threat to motorcycling posed by blinkered absolutism in pursuit of Net Zero is our top priority. Motorcycles contribute just 0.4% of all UK transport CO2 emissions.  

Focus on emissions merely from the tailpipe is illogical.  Beyond tailpipe emissions, ‘embedded carbon’ from the manufacture and decommissioning of motorcycles is far smaller than for cars.  A petrol-powered motorcycle creates lower full-lifecycle CO2 emissions than an electric car.

Studies also show that modal shift from cars to motorcycles can reduce overall emissions from the entire transport system by significantly reducing congestion, but any potential for a renaissance in motorcycling looks doomed by proposals to end sales of new internal combustion engine motorcycles, reflected in a tiny, and diminishing, electric motorcycle market share.

Sales of electric motorcycles are declining, not increasing.  The technology is demonstrably not ready for widescale adoption today and is unlikely to be the best answer for all use cases. 

Electric motorcycles may have a role to play but are not the whole future for motorised two-wheeled transport.

  • MAG asks the next Government to reverse all current proposals to phase out or mandate an end to the sales of new internal combustion engine-powered vehicles (ICEVs). See MAG’s Don’t Kill Motorcycling

2. Support and grow the riding community

Once Government removes the existential threat of forced electrification, it must next address the wider question of barriers to entry. 

Excessive regulation has made obtaining a motorcycle licence ever more complex and costly.  In comparison with the simple three step process to achieving a car driving licence, would-be motorcyclists face a confusing and expensive maze that the DfT can only fully describe with a five-page flowchart. Whilst some claim there is a declining desire amongst younger people to enter motorcycling, the reality is that over-stringent and complex licensing requirements have made motorcycling an unaffordable choice for most. This is having severely negative social and road safety consequences. Instead of integrating into a society of older, experienced motorcyclists providing positive role models and life guidance, as was once the norm, younger adults now often fall into circles involved in anti-social activities and crime.

Police disinterest in tackling motorcycle theft is also a major problem. Motorcycles account for approximately 25% of all recorded vehicle theft, despite constituting only 3% of registered vehicles. This alone deters potential riders and is even forcing out existing riders through spiralling insurance costs and the personal risk from violent criminals prepared to steal motorcycles at knifepoint. 

When it comes to the safety of motorcyclists there is an insidious double standard increasingly manifest in the Vision Zero approach to road safety.  Whilst claiming to have the best interests of all road users at heart, Vision Zero continually states a preference for changing modal choice rather than improving the safety of all modes.  Policymakers have subordinated the safety of motorcyclists to their desire for social engineering.  Hierarchies of “consideration” consistently write motorcyclists out of the equation entirely or, at best, throw their interests into a blanket silo of choices they wish to actively discourage.

  • MAG asks the next Government to reform the motorcycle licence regime. Riders seek simplification and cost savings whilst maintaining safety standards.  Government should accept that as the end goal and then actively discuss with stakeholders – including MAG and the industry – how to achieve it. See MAG’s Licence to Ride
  • MAG asks the next Government to review vehicle theft sentencing guidelines, and police motorcycle theft effectively. Solutions include better opportunities to secure motorcycles, a more robust police response leading to increased disruption of offending and conviction of offenders, allied to a thorough review of the social response to motorcycling and the structure and strength of sentencing. See MAG’s Fight Motorcycle Theft
  • MAG asks the next Government to adopt a Welcoming Roads approach to road safety. Riders want their safety to have equal priority in a way that reduces division, judgement, and entitlement.  Government can achieve this by avoiding Vision Zero branding for road safety. See MAG’s Welcoming Roads

3. Make policies that promote motorcycling

A healthy and growing community of riders will be one benefit of pro-motorcycling policies, certainly, but wider society will also benefit.  The lack of coherent policies supporting and promoting motorcycling over the last two decades has led us to a position where a quarter of local transport plans fail to acknowledge even the existence of motorcycles, with many more only viewing them as a road safety problem.

This lack of understanding and interest results in the benefits of motorcycling being, at best, under-exploited but in most policy areas, wilfully destroyed.

Emissions-based parking charges, restriction of road space access and unfair taxation of motorcycling is most often the result of policymakers’ failure to recognise that motorcycles are not cars. This lazy approach of assuming the impact of motorcycles replicates that of cars is a malaise that successive Governments have perpetuated through lack of leadership and vision.

  • MAG asks the next Government to mandate discrete motorcycle policies in all local transport plans. Government must mandate clear guidance on pro-motorcycling policies within the sustainable transport vision for inclusion in Local Transport Plans. See MAG’s Pathways for Progress
  • MAG asks the next Government to maximise road access for motorcycling. Bus lanes, traffic filters, low traffic neighbourhoods, advanced stop lines and other measures have all reduced access for motorcycles. Ironically, the authorities responsible for increasing mobility and relieving congestion are the instigators of such exclusionary measures. Government must recognise that policies developed for cars are not necessarily suitable for application to motorcycles.  See MAG’s Let Us In
  • MAG asks the next Government to issue clear guidance for a proportionate approach to motorcycle parking charges. Authorities are increasingly using parking charges as a lever to deter use of cars, as opposed to funding the provision of facilities.  They must not apply such an approach to motorcycles.  See MAG’s Park It
  • MAG asks the next Government to remove motorcycles from the scope of all local charging regimes for congestion and air quality management and introduce proportionality to national taxation for motorcycles. Motorcycles demonstrably reduce congestion and improve air quality. The ‘one size fits all’ approach of seeking to manage motorcycles the same way as cars is illogical. Vehicle Excise Duty or any proposed alternative national Road Pricing must be fair and proportionate. See MAG’s Bikers Not Cash Cows
  • MAG asks the next Government to provide a road network fit for motorcyclists. The responsible authorities have underfunded and mismanaged road maintenance for too long. The next Government must demonstrate leadership and sufficient financial input to repairing the crumbling UK road network.  See MAG’s Resurface Our Roads

If you have never been a MAG member, have let your membership lapse, or are thinking you need to save some money by not renewing this year, we would love you to join, re-join or stay with us. If, like us, you are passionate about motorcycling, want to see motorcycling continue in the future, and want to preserve all that you love about it, we hope it will be an easy choice to make. MAG’s strength is in numbers. The riding community can demonstrate strength when it unites. If you want to say you played your part to defend motorcycling, please… join MAG today