06-05-2020 MAG urges Government not to overlook motorcycles in plans to ease lockdown

New NormalMAG has criticised the omission of motorcycles in indications of Government thinking around transport in the transition from lockdown back to normality.  Claiming that the “New Normal” may not be anything like that proposed by many lobby groups, MAG calls for clearer thinking

Transport Secretary, Grant Shapps, has suggested that encouraging people to commute by bicycle will be a key part of proposals for transport as travel restrictions for the pandemic lockdown are eased; however, motorcycles are not mentioned.  Zealous cycle lobbyists are naturally excited by this statement and seem to be suggesting that vast numbers will turn to cycling as their only mode of transport. London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, has already announced his Streetspace Plan, which is intended to fast-track the transformation of London’s streets to enable millions more people to safely walk and cycle as part of their daily journeys.

Commenting on the media rush to suggest that cycling will be a substantial solution, MAG’s Director of Campaigns & Political Engagement, Colin Brown, said: “The idea that cycling alone can replace all the transport needs of those who will be unable to commute by public transport is for the birds.  The average cycle trip in 2018 was a mere 3.3 miles.  Potentially, cycling could replace bus travel in London as the average trip was 3.7 miles but nationally, average local bus trips are 5.3 miles.  The average trip on the London underground was 8.9 miles and on average surface rail trips are 30.9 miles.  During lockdown, we have not all moved closer to our places of work.  At an average trip distance of 13.4 miles, motorcycles can clearly replace far more public transport trips than cycling, whilst also offering congestion reduction benefits over cars.“

Colin went on to say: “Any action that improves the safety of cycling and walking is to be commended. However, the plight of motorcyclists must not be forgotten in this dash for cycling infrastructure.  We have serious concerns that road space segregation and cycle safety measures often increase risks for motorcyclists: something we highlighted at the last City of London meeting prior to lockdown.  We are vulnerable road users too.  It is vital that MAG and motorcyclists are consulted on the many plans to accommodate cycling that are being rushed through without opportunity for comment and scrutiny from other road users.”

MAG Chair, Selina Lavender, said “Motorcyclists already wear a form of PPE as standard.  Motorcycles provide social distancing, flexibility and range that cycles don’t.  There is no need to fast-track major changes to the roads infrastructure, though a few more authorities opening their bus lanes to motorcycles would be sensible.  Leaving motorcycles out of plans to help the transport system to get going and the economy back on the road to recovery is an oversight of massive proportion.”

MAG Director of Communications & Public Affairs, Lembit Opik, said: “Motorbikes and scooters are self-evidently safer than bus and train travel when it comes to virus transmission. Motorcycling guarantees social distancing, with most being ‘PPE-ready’ the moment they get on their machine, in a way that those using trains and buses are not. It’s a ready-made solution, and the Government should rapidly highlight this to the millions of commuters looking for virus-resistant ways to travel.”

Tim Fawthrop, MAG London Regional Rep, said:  ‘I nearly lost my life to Covid, and consider myself fortunate to now be on the long road to recovery. Like many others, I am avoiding public transport, which is potentially where I picked up the virus initially.  I plan to avoid all public transport for the foreseeable future. As soon as I have the strength, I will return to riding my motorcycle in accordance with whatever guidelines are in place at that time. Getting back on the bike and on the open road will lift my spirits and aid my recovery.  I am saddened that the Government and London’s Mayor have not yet included motorcycles in their plans.  As motorcyclists, we are aware of the benefits of our favourite form of transport and how they can support society in the fight against the effects of this horrendous virus. It is time for policy-makers to listen to us.’

MAG has approached the Secretary of State for Transport and the London Mayor, and will continue to assertively lobby for a long overdue review by the Department for Transport of the missed opportunities and ignored benefits of motorcycles.  MAG has long promoted motorcycles as the most sustainable form of private motorised transport and is now calling on all riders to contact their MPs and councillors, asking them to promote motorcycles as a vital part of any “new normal” transport system that emerges.


Contact MAG at 01926 844 064 or central-office@mag-uk.org