Campaigners for motorcyclists’ rights – including TV star Charley Boorman – have met with MPs in an effort to make London’s roads safer for riders.
Members of the WeRideLondon campaign group, including the TV personality who rode around the world with best friend Ewan McGregor, visited Parliament on Wednesday to discuss their cause with a number of motorcycle-riding MPs and Lords.
The initiative was launched in December of last year in an attempt to improve safety for bikers and scooter riders in the capital and to oppose the introduction of new emissions charges.
WeRideLondon co-founder Mike Butler said: “The meeting went extremely well. We met with a selection of MPs and Lords all whom are riders and passionate about the cause. It is likely that this will be raised more formally at a national level following our meeting and we have also been asked back.”
— We Ride London (@weridelondon) March 15, 2017
The campaign has five main targets: The protection of lane widths to allow safe filtering for all bikes, universal motorcycle use of bus lanes across London Boroughs, exclusion from all charges related to congestion of pollution (ULEZ), more free, safe and secure parking for motorcycles and more action taken against bike theft and bike-jacking.
Mr Butler added: “At the moment powered two-wheelers aren’t considered in the transport policy. We want equality with cyclists on London’s roads. And we’re just trying to open the eyes of the public and say ‘we’re just normal people going from A to B’.”
Boorman, who himself commutes in London on a motorcycle, added: “These are normal people who aren’t necessarily bikers, but who just use a motorbike to get to work. People who buy a moped or motorbike to use as a cheap or efficient way of getting to work.
“We pay our road tax, we have a number plate, we have training and insurance and we’re accountable. We have all these different things that make us as road safe as possible and I think the government has forgotten that we’re part of the solution and not part of the problem.”
— We Ride London (@weridelondon) March 12, 2017
As it stands, when the Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) charges come into play in 2019, any motorcycle used in Central London that does not meet Euro 3 emissions regulations – i.e. was manufactured before July 1, 2007 – will be subject to a £12.50 daily charge. Petrol cars that are Euro 4 compliant or older and Euro 6 compliant diesel cars will be charged at the same rate.
WeRideLondon is arguing that motorcyclists should not have to pay the ULEZ charge because, according to TFL’s own figures, the 55,000 motorcycles and scooters that are used in central London every day contribute less than one per cent of pollution levels. Not only that, but two-wheeled commuting is a congestion buster, similarly to cycling.
While previous attempts to improve motorcycle safety in London before have proved unsuccessful, the riders behind WeRideLondon are attempting a different tactic and asking riders of all professions across the city to share photographs of themselves in their work uniform.
“We’re humanising bikers,” commented Butler. “When we’re in our leathers and full face helmets, a lot of drivers think we’re some robotic two-wheeled vehicle, and don’t connect the fact that we’re on that bike and we’re someone’s daughter, someone’s brother or someone’s work colleague.”