100% Biker 194

100% Biker 194
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“Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you”

Joseph Heller’s words in ‘Catch-22’ became one of the most famous phrases of the 20th century and still rings sadly true today. With regard to motorcycling, the worst case scenarios of paranoia – bikes driven off the roads – have always perhaps seemed just that. But three things in the last few weeks have made me extremely worried.

First is the announcement by Business Minster Matthew Hancock that up to £7.5 million will be set aside to entice people into buying electric motorcycles. I think electric bikes are an exciting and interesting addition to two-wheeled transportation but they are certainly not the ultimate solution to pollution, environmental concerns or travelling needs. Now the government is to offer bikers up to £1500 to ‘bridge the cost gap between a zero emission electric motorcycle and [a] conventional petrol version.’ I don’t like this sort of government ‘help’, as anyone who’s heard me on the subject of the scrappage scheme and built-in obsolescence will know.

Secondly is the Ultra Low Emission Zone, the first such zone in the world (aren’t we proud?), as mentioned by Mitch on page 80. In 2020, any motorcycle over 13 years old at that point (ie, registered after 1st July 2007) will be charged £12.50 per day to enter London. That’s twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year. Yes, we’re talking about London where you can be gassed standing behind a bus and which has one of the world’s busiest airports within the current LEZ. The ULEZ will also apply to 5-year-old diesel cars and pre-2006 petrol-engined cars and vans, as well as, well, virtually every vehicle that isn’t more or less brand new. The rationale behind including motorcycles is that bikes are ‘heavy polluters’. Do you know for what percentage of nitrous oxide emissions motorcycles account?

Less than 1%.

Yes, we are all 1-percenters. Despite this and the fact that bikes help to ease traffic and parking congestion, if you can’t afford a new(ish) bike, you will be penalised. But what really depressed me was visiting a well-known online motorcycle site which is noted for its news coverage and reading the comments made by people in response to its reporting of the introduction of the ULEZ. While some people condemned the ULEZ, that was a far from universal opinion. The following comments were made by people who, to judge by their user names and avatars, ride bikes: “Not an unreasonable law to pass. Should get some of those old shonkers relegated back to the country lanes where they belong.” “Bikes are pretty bad polluters, everyone knows that.” And the saddest of all? “It doesn’t come into effect until 2020 so who gives a shit?” Hopefully some of you do. Join the MAG demo on 30th May.