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10-01-2019 MAG praises MP’s hard line against dangerous drivers

MAG has welcomed the tough position expressed by Conservative MP Peter Heaton-Jones regarding the sentencing of dangerous drivers.
MAG’s Regional Representative in the South West, Tracy Smith, has received a welcome boost to the campaign for justice against potential killer drivers, whose actions risk the safety of other road users – including motorcyclists.

Mr Peter Heaton-Jones, the Conservative Member of Parliament for North Devon, has confirmed that he backs changes which increase the possible sentences for causing death. Mr Heaton-Jones stated: ‘The maximum penalty for causing death by dangerous driving and causing death by careless driving under the influence of drink or drugs will both be increased from fourteen years to life.’ Mr Heaton-Jones added; ‘these tougher sentences come after an overwhelming response to a consultation, which revealed substantial backing for the plans from a wide range of people including victims, bereaved families and road safety experts.’ He confirmed that that a new offence of causing serious injury by careless driving will also be created.

Tracy is pleased to see this development: ‘having to discuss all this is only necessary because of the actions of a small number of irresponsible killer drivers who aren’t fit to share the road space with anyone. They deserve the prospect of life imprisonment for killing bikers and other road users through their criminal behaviour. MAG welcomes Mr Heaton-Jones’s support for those who face the tragedy of stolen lives, as a result of these dangerous drivers. Nobody wants to suffer this horrible situation, and I hope that these stiffer sentences act as a deterrent to chancing such wilfully irresponsible behaviour in the first place.‘

The response Tracy has received proves the value of contacting your MP for support for bikers who suffer harm from bad driving by others. Public opinion got the law changed in the first place, and will continue to help get justice for the victims of such reckless driving.

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

08-01-2019 How ‘NICE’ is advice on road planning?

MAG questions why a health group is venturing into the complex world of road planning – and perhaps missing the point of our roads.
MAG has expressed surprise that the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has issued guidance on road planning, even though it has no publicly known experience in highways design and operation. This follows advice from NICE that to keep Britain healthy the roads should be reprioritised for fitness activity.

Lembit Öpik, MAG’s Director of Communications & Public Affairs, says: ‘NICE says road planning should explicitly prioritise cycling and walking, in preference to private vehicles with engines. They say this will make us healthier by reducing obesity, diabetes and other conditions. Deprioritising powered vehicles in deference to economically insignificant methods of travel, namely unpowered methods, seems unwise. What proportion of us will walk many miles to work, cycle to hospital appointments or pedal to official engagements? It’s just not realistic to think anything more than a small proportion of journeys will be made on foot or by bicycle. This otherwise respected body seems to be offering policy far outside its area of expertise.’

MAG’s Director of Campaigns & Political Engagement, Colin Brown, highlights a further confusion: ‘my analysis indicates that in London, where the policy they propose has been partly implemented with hundreds of millions of Pounds invested in cycle road space, motorcycle accidents have gone up. We predicted this would happen – a direct result of restricted road space for powered vehicles caused by the prioritisation to protect cyclists, even at the cost of other road users’ welfare. How can NICE defend steps which damage the health of other road users to favour cyclists? Considerably more bikers die in London than cyclists. Why is the possible link between these deaths and infrastructure changes to favour cycling being ignored?

‘There’s a principle too,’ continues Colin. ‘Transport’s key mission is to move people and freight, not to improve public health.  As a secondary benefit, that’s fine, but we can’t let it undermine the primary purpose of the road network. There are many ways to get healthy, but without powered road transport we can’t effectively convey people and goods around the country. Anyone is free to cycle or go jogging in a park. But we utilise motorcycles, cars and HGVs – in other words, we use roads – for a main purpose that’s nothing to do with health. Push bikes as a mode of transport deserve consideration; but as ‘get fit’ devices they deserve no particular priority on the highway because that’s not what we built roads for. It’s not right to redeploy highways for health at the cost of mainstream traffic.’

MAG asks NICE to show why they want to compromise the transport system, with health harms to other road users which the pro-cycling policy causes, or to rethink this policy.

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

04-01-2019 MAG, ULEZ and exemption of older motorcycles

Update on: Honda, BMW, Kawasaki, Suzuki, Yamaha, Harley Davidson, KTM, Lexmoto, Aprilia, Husqvarna, Moto Guzzi, Piaggio, Royal Enfield, Triumph, Norton, Gilera, Vespa.

MAG has been working to exempt as many motorcycles as possible from the high Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) charges being introduced in London in April 2019. In a series of releases, MAG is outlining the progress made with manufacturers in helping you to avoid charges, by proving your motorcycle is compliant with the emissions levels that have been set.
Following a productive meeting with the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, regarding motorcycles in the Capital, MAG is engaged in seeking information from manufacturers which will help you secure an exemption for your motorcycle.  MAG’s Director of Communications & Public Affairs, Lembit Öpik, explains: ‘we have agreed with the Mayor that those motorcycles which achieve the emissions standards set for the ULEZ charge should be exempt. It’s common sense and eminently fair to do this.

‘There are two ways to achieve that exemption: a Certificate of Conformity, showing that your machine produces less NOx than the upper permissible limit; or a specific test of your machine providing evidence that this is the case. We’re working with manufacturers to see what needs to be done to get a Certificate of Conformity (COC) and we’ll share that information as we get it.

MAG is also working to seek a simple, long-term solution that avoids any punitive toxic tax for motorbikes and scooters. The current proposal, which MAG is opposing, would add £12.50 to a daily commute for many, increasing the cost of the journey by over 1,000%.

We’ll keep you posted on manufacturers as we get more information from them.

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

 

How to get Certificate of ULEZ exemption link: https://wiki.mag-uk.org/images/f/fd/How_to_get_Certificate_of_ULEZ_exemption.pdf

02-01-2019 MAG starts the New Year determined to build on successes

MAG is looking forward to continuing to build on the good work achieved during 2018. MAG is ready to continue defending riders’ rights and to contribute to the decision-making processes at national and local government levels.

Selina Lavender, the Chair of MAG, noted that the organisation is ready to build on the achievements of 2018: “Everyone – from our Political Unit to our grassroots members – has played their part during the past year and I am confident that they will continue to do so during the year ahead.

“We will – as always – be meeting with various high-level authorities to push the motorcycling agenda forward and to get the best deals possible for motorcyclists in respect to legislation and best practice.

MAG has achieved some success with issues like CAZs and moped-enabled crime but there is still a great deal of work to do and we will rise to the challenge.”

MAG will continue to engage with Government and Local Authorities wherever a need to protect riders’ rights is identified and will continue to build the relationships already forged as well as generate new ones.

MAG invites riders, dealers, mechanics and manufacturers to join MAG and help create a united voice for the common good of the riding community.

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

30-11-2018 MAG meets Mayor Khan: and it’s good news

MAG has held a long-awaited meeting with Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan. The result of the exchange gives room for optimism amongst the motorcycling community.

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‘It’s been a long time coming, but it was worth the wait,’ said MAG’s London Regional Rep, Tim Fawthrop, following MAG’s visit to Mayor Khan at the Greater London Authority’s headquarters in City Hall, on 27th November 2018.  The meeting was the result of months of lobbying, and the hugely helpful intervention of Greater London Authority Assembly Member Keith Prince AM, who secured and attended the meeting. Lembit Öpik and Colin Brown from MAG’s Political Unit were also present.

‘We covered two items,’ continues Tim. ‘One was bus lanes and the other was the threat to charge bikers in the Ultra-Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ Charge) if their motorbikes are beyond a certain age. MAG argues that this is unfair because bikes reduce congestion and pollution and make no measurable contribution to London’s emissions. I suggested that we should find a way to exempt those bikes that can be shown to have very low emissions, and the Mayor agreed to allow us to explore this further with his staff, which is a good outcome.’

The discussion on bus lanes was even more encouraging.  Mr Prince, who organised the meeting, said: ‘Mr Khan agreed that motorcycles should be allowed into bus lanes.  He assured us that all the so-called Red Routes in London, which are directly under TfL’s control, would remain open to bikes. He also said he’ll work with MAG to encourage the London Boroughs to open their routes up too. I’m glad to see the Mayor honour the promise he made on this matter.’

Next, MAG will meet the relevant officers to explore the best way to progress both matters. Lembit adds ‘It’s a credit to the Mayor that the meeting was not just a box-ticking exercise, but a real chance to talk about our ideas and suggestions. It leaves me optimistic about Mr Khan’s attitude towards biking now, and I’m happy to say so.’

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

28-07-2018 MAG demands action on ‘Pothole Britain’

MAG has added its voice to demands that the appalling state of our roads is addressed. Road faults are damaging motorcycles and causing injury and death

MAG has backed the RAC’s criticisms of the state of the roads in the UK.  The damage to the road surfaces has been caused by limited repair budgets and extreme weather – both hot and cold – which the UK has recently experienced.

David Bizley, RAC Chief Engineer, said: ‘From a driver’s point of view, our roads are still in a poor state of repair after the damage caused by ‘The Beast from the East’ and the generally harsh late winter conditions the country experienced.’ The RAC recorded 4,091 pothole-related breakdowns between April and June – the highest figure for this three-month period since 2015.

The figure includes breakdowns for the category ‘likely to be attributed to damage caused by potholes and poor-quality road surfaces’ – such as damaged shock absorbers, broken suspension springs or distorted wheels.

The RAC also says its Pothole Index – which is based on a quarterly rolling analysis of pothole-related breakdowns – shows a worsening picture in the second quarter of 2018.

The index, which began at a base of 1.00 in 2006 when the RAC started recording data, moved upwards from 2.63 across the three-month measuring period to 2.67, marking five successive quarters of deterioration.

A spokesman for the Motorcycle Action Group, Ian Churchlow, said:
‘potholes are not a theoretical problem for bikers. They cause real accidents and real injuries – and even fatalities. We read and hear endless calls for reduced death and injury on the road from the road safety groups. We would invite them to join us to take a common-sense attitude towards something which would make a far bigger difference than reduced speed limits – better road surfaces. Specifically, that means devoting time and effort to getting local authorities to fix the roads, which may not be glamorous but it’s very important. Our question is:
will the road safety lobby work with us to achieve that? This is the litmus test about whether or not they are serious about road safety.
Pothole Britain is killing riders and this has to end.’

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

21-06-2018 ‘Billboards Outside City Hall’ secure a meeting with the Mayor

The Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) is looking forward to a meeting with the Mayor of London, Sadiq Khan, to discuss questions regarding environmental fairness, crime and road safety regarding motorcyclists in the city.

The Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) has thanked Greater London Authority Assembly Member Keith Prince AM for securing a landmark meeting with London Mayor Sadiq Khan, to discuss motorcycle safety, environmental charging and crime issues. Bikers held up signs outside London’s City Hall on Thursday 21st June with words echoing the film ‘Three Billboards outside Ebbing, Missouri.’ The billboards said:

‘70+ DEAD BIKERS’

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‘AND STILL NO INVESTMENT?’

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‘HOW COME, MAYOR KHAN?’

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Tim Fawthrop, the Motorcycle Action Group’s London Representative, says: ‘compared to cyclists, four times more bikers died on London’s highways in 2016   with 9 cycling fatalities versus 36 fatally injured motorcyclists. But, while the authorities invest £154 million per year on cycling, there’s almost nothing being invested to make roads safer for riders. They’ve even narrowed the lanes to prevent or deter ‘filtering’ between lines of stationary traffic by riders – though this is a perfectly legal riding activity, reducing congestion and pollution for everyone by keeping motorbikes out of queues.

‘On top of this, they threaten us with new charges on older bikes which, by TfL’s own figures, produce almost no pollution at all, and are essential transport for the least wealthy who depend on them to get to low-paid jobs, maybe including at City Hall to clean the Mayor’s bins. So we’re truly grateful to Keith Prince for getting a meeting for the riding community with the Mayor – and we thank Sadiq Khan for agreeing.’

Keith Prince highlighted the issues facing riders in his contributions at Mayor’s Question Time. Afterwards he said, ‘I’ve now spoken with the Mayor and his staff and this meeting will go ahead. We just need to approach it with logic and evidence and seek to ensure the Mayor can see the benefits of a positive approach towards riding. I think he’ll do that if we ourselves show a cooperative attitude.’

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

08-06-2018 Off-road racing and riding could be banned unless YOU act

MAG has backed the Motor Cycle Industry Association’s attack on a European Commission edict that could end motorcycle sport.
MAG is urgently appealing to riders across the UK to contact their Member of Parliament and help prevent the effective banning of competitive, off-road riding of all kinds in the United Kingdom.

‘The threat comes from a European Union Directive’ explains MAG’s Director of Communications & Public Affairs, Lembit Öpik. ‘It would require all mechanically propelled vehicles to get full third-party motor insurance to cover injury, damage and loss, on public and private roads or land. By changing what’s called the ‘Motor Insurance Directive’ (MID), it could end competitive riding in the UK and EU.’

The extreme threat arises from a single legal case regarding liability (known as the ‘Vnuk’ Judgment). Its consequences would be disastrous because insurance firms would find it economically impossible to insure competitive off-road riding activities, given the realities of damage to machines, collisions and all the elements which are the essence of competitive racing. This could more or less wipe out these sorts of events. The MCIA estimates that this could terminate activities involving over 1.7 million spectators and 55,000 riders annually, at over 4000 off-road and track events. This latest move stems from a broken commitment by the EU to resolve this issue. British Government officials have stated they oppose this unjustified measure.

Tony Campbell, CEO of the MCIA said: “In the UK alone, motorcycle sport is estimated to be worth £1 billion, which rises to around £11 billion across all forms of UK motor sports. We strongly support UK Government efforts, but our message is clear – whatever the outcome of these new proposals Government must take action in order to avoid the catastrophic damage that will be inflicted on Motorsport across the board if this ruling turns into law – even if this means defying Brussels.”

Lembit adds: ‘The UK Government has actively supported efforts to remove this threat to off-road riding and racing. Please contact your MP, asking them to write to Chris Grayling, Secretary of State for Transport, to ensure the UK Government will honour its pledge to ignore this draconian and virtually pointless directive from the EU Commission.’

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

28-04-2018 Highways England, MAG and others turn concerns into action

HighwaysEnglandHighways England continues to be a role model for action following its Motorcycle Infrastructure Sub-Working Group meeting on 17th April 2018.
Lembit Öpik, MAG’s Director of Communications & Public Affairs, regards this as ‘amongst the most productive project groups in our Political Unit’s calendar. Rarely have I seen a team which delivers so much and so well – in this case with a task list 28 pages long.’ These include:

•    Recommending a review of roadside advertising, which can easily draw the attention of drivers – after all, that’s the purpose of advertising. Highways England already refuses advertising within their highway boundary.
•    Assessing the danger of signposts and trees present near the roadside – with a request for inclusion of clear standards in safety planning. Data shows 91% of impacts with trees by motorcyclists led to death or serious injury.
•    Highways England is assessing the extent to which ‘armadillos’ and ‘orcas,’ present a danger. They’ve been raised with the Safer Roads Team Specialist.
•    ‘Turbo roundabouts,’ which introduce raised separation of lanes, will not be included in the plans of Highways England.
•    On potholes and manhole covers the committee recommends clear standards of repair and a review of the frictional qualities of manhole covers. Law already exists but possibly isn’t being enforced (Street Works Act, Section 81). Other legislation says ‘Ironwork must (have) similar friction qualities to that of the road surface (TD 54/07 Paragraph 4.9).’ Safety inspection protocols were also covered.
•    They’re issuing advice on differential heights on road surfaces where rutting and raised edges present a danger to riders. Slippery joints between road sections – known as ‘overbanding’ – were also discussed.
•    48% of rider accidents at roundabouts and 47% of rider accidents at T or staggered junctions result in death or serious injury. The group recommends guidance in the ‘Guide to Road Safety Route Treatments.’
•    A notable statistic is that, on the Strategic Road Network, 14% of rider accidents are caused by vehicles pulling out on bikers.

‘We got through a lot,’ adds Jimmy Torrance, Manchester MAG Representative and fellow member of this sub-group. ‘You know, they actually listen to riders. Road surface issues are a direct test – if Highways England does repair more dangerous potholes and resurfaces slippery manhole covers,that would prove the group’s usefulness.’

If you have specific concerns about major roads, please let Lembit or Jimmy know, and they can raise these issues at the sub-working group.

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