New paper shows the Carbon cost of anti-motorcycle transport policy.

The Motorcycle Action Group has published a new paper examining the Carbon cost of poor motorcycle transport policy.  As pressure increases on the Government to properly address the role of motorcycles in the future of transport, MAG demonstrates the huge own-goal scored by transport policy makers over recent years.

anti-motorcycle policy carbon cost

The paper “Motorcycle Carbon Emissions” examines the tailpipe emissions from motorcycle commuter trips.  Noting that embedded emissions savings from manufacture of vehicles will be highly relevant, and again favour motorcycles over cars, the paper covers direct tailpipe emissions.  The paper analyses statistics from the National Atmospheric Emissions Inventory and The Department for Transport. 

The conclusion of the analysis is that had policies been put in place to halt the decline of motorcycle commuters, and to mildly promote the mode as an effective commuter choice, the nation could have reduced its Carbon emissions by a staggering 294.3 Kilotonnes over the 15-year period from 2002 to 2017.

Based on a modest 1% modal shift of commuters from cars to motorcycles over 15 years, the estimate is far from exaggerated.

MAG often quotes the findings of the TM Leuven study of 2011, which showed that a 10% modal shift from cars to motorcycles would reduce congestion by 40% and reduce transport Carbon emissions by 7.5%.  A modal shift of this magnitude would have equated to a saving of 8.85 million tonnes of Carbon in 2017 alone.

Author of the report, MAG’s Director of Campaigns & Political Engagement, Colin Brown, said:

“The numbers shocked even me.  Bear in mind that my analysis only covers the emissions savings from commuter trips.  The savings if the same analysis is applied across the whole range of trip purposes, would be colossal.  MAG has long promoted motorcycling as an environmentally friendly transport mode.  This analysis shows that our claims are not fantasy.  We urge Government and local transport authorities to wake up to the idea that motorcycles are a valid part of future transport solutions.  This answer has been under their noses for long enough: now is the time to act.”

The Motorcycle Action Group is working with other motorcycling organisations on the “Ride COVID Safe” initiative and is promoting International Ride To Work Day, which falls on 15th June this year.

MAG Chair, Selina Lavender, said: 

“Government may not yet actively promote motorcycles, but MAG will continue to rigorously and enthusiastically do so.  We can only do what we do with the support of the riding public.  There are over one and a quarter million regular riders in the UK, so it would really help for all those riders to join MAG and help us to help them.  Together we can protect our passion and save the planet too.”

Key findings of the analysis are:

  • The average motorcycle on the road emits around 30% less CO2 than the average car on the road. 
  • Emissions from both cars and motorcycles have reduced at a broadly comparable rate over the last 20 years.
  • Numbers of motorcycle commuters have reduced by around 35% in the 15-year period   2002 – 2017, whilst car commuters increased by over 11%.
  • The emissions cost of motorcycle commuters taking up the car as an alternative mode resulted in an excess of 130.2 Kilotonnes of Carbon emitted to the atmosphere purely as a result of commuter trips made by car that would have otherwise been completed by motorcycle.
  • A 1% total modal shift from cars to motorcycles over a period of 15 years would have resulted in a cumulative saving of 294.3 Kilotonnes of Carbon emissions over the period.
  • Potential for Carbon emission savings from even modest levels of modal shift to motorcycles is indisputable.