Saturday, 23 May 2015

Why do public authorities have such a problem with motorcycles?


I've noted before that West Yorkshire police's press office dedicates a huge proportion of its press office resource to sending out press releases attacking motorcyclists. It's not just that the popular portrayal of motorcycling and motor cyclists is almost entirely negative but that this form of transport is almost entirely ignored - except as a line in the accident statistics - by transport planners.

The Leeds branch of the Motorcycle Action Group (I so want to call it the Leeds Chapter) staged a protest that called for a greater recognition of motorcycling and, specifically, for bikes to be allow to use bus lanes.

Scores of bikers have taken part in a "demo ride" calling for rights to ride in Leeds's bus lanes.

Organised by Leeds Motorcycle Action Group (MAG), the ride started from Squires Cafe, near Sherburn in Elmet, and finished at a pub outside Leeds.

The group is campaigning for all motorcycles, scooters and mopeds to be allowed to use the city's bus lanes.
The response from Leeds City Council (interestingly this isn't the body responsible for transport planning but we can't expect the BBC to actually know this - it's one of the reasons we need a metro mayor) is typical council-speak about 'harnessing' the views of motorcyclists. Probably because the planners have absolutely no intention of doing what Leeds MAG suggest - recognising that motorcycling has a real role to play in urban transport and especially the relief of congestion. These planners are wedded to trains and buses (including in Leeds having a bus on a string), plus pedal cycles their new favourite means of transport, and see motorised private transport as a bad thing, the main problem from which we all must be modally shifted.

The consultation - being conducted as we speak (I bet you didn't know, did you) by the Combined Authority - completely fails to mention motor cycles and only mentions cars as a problem. I attended a meeting of the Authority's Scrutiny Committee where a presentation about the new strategic transport plan - a good 40 minute long presentation - didn't mention the word 'car' once, let alone refer to motorcycles. Why is it these planners have such tunnel vision? And why do they hate motorcycles so much?



Manx Gent said...

Manx resident so an obvious bias here, but when I studied in Leeds in early 1990's I paid my way through uni with work as a carer, and my old Z650 was an absolute godsend.
Fair enough, being able to go anywhere in West Yorks by bus for around 50p was great, but not if you were on a tight schedule.
I could dash about to early morning and overnight jobs, nip through congestion lines and park in spots cars couldn't go.
Any sane transport policy would consider this, and any sane local authority would see the advantages of key public sector staff being able to fly round the city on moped, scooters or motorcycles. The police would be the obvious model to follow.

Jackart said...

The authorities hate motorcycles because they are just an order of magnitude more dangerous than any other form of transport, making about 2% of journeys but comprising 13% of KSIs. They're incredibly noisy, especially little scooters with those ghastly hair-dryer sounding engines,which add little to the enjoyment of people who aren't in cars. The fewer private motor vehicles in a city of any sort, the better. The more cyclists, the better. This isn't true outside cities, but squeezing petrol engines out of city centres in favour of public transport and cycling is the way forward.