NMC holds positive meeting on a range of motorcycling matters with Transport Minister Richard Holden.
During a wide-ranging meeting on motorcycling policy issues between the National Motorcyclists Council and Transport Minister, Richard Holden MP, Mr Holden revealed that he is open to developing better policies for motorcycling as part of the Department for Transport’s approach to overall transport matters and the future of transport.
Acknowledging that there was much he needed to learn about motorcycling, Mr Holden agreed that further work on rider licensing, safety and various areas of regulation is needed and accepted that the practice overlooking or ignoring motorcycling in various policy initiatives deserves reconsideration. The contribution of motorcycling to transport and society was discussed, and the NMC outlined how motorcycling represents an important area of transport, mainly focussed around commuting and practical purposes, but with a strong leisure and organised sports contribution. The £7billion contribution of overall motorcycling activity to the UK economy was outlined, plus the near £1billion motorcycle sports sector. The benefits of motorcycles as a key step towards decarbonisation was highlighted and the need to not apply a 'one size fits all' approach to different road users for phasing out fossil fuelled vehicles, but instead to adopt a multi-technological approach.
The NMC delegation included senior executives from the British Motorcyclists Federation (BMF), IAM RoadSmart and the Trail Riders Fellowship (TRF). All organisations presented key messages and issues that affect their members.
The BMF focussed on the lack of motorcycling in wider transport policies, the need for emerging ‘smart’ roads and vehicle technologies, plus automated systems, to take motorcycles into account in both R&D and in practice. The BMF also raised the issue of motorcycle taxation.
IAM RoadSmart raised research and advancements in PPE, making safer equipment more accessible though removing VAT, plus offering grants for certain items. The need for improved riding skills, particularly in the gig economy was discussed, plus support for post-test training. The issue of potholes was also raised by IAM Roadsmart and the need for a long-term funding strategy to eliminate the backlog of roads repairs. The need to allow motorcycles into bus lanes in all locations was also raised – something that Mr Holden strongly agreed with. How that can be achieved, particularly by local authorities will be explored further.
The IAM also outlined its forthcoming initiatives and Mr Holden agreed to support these.
The TRF focused on green roads matters, illustrating how riding unsealed highways is not just a leisure pursuit, but also a key part of what can be described as ‘more active travel’ due to the health and mental wellbeing benefits that comes from riding green roads and green lanes. The TRF raised the issue of the confusing patchwork of regulation and how a more common-sense approach to Traffic Regulation Orders (TRO) needs to be established, so avoiding the need for legal cases to resolve problems. Noting that last year’s DFT consultation on Traffic Regulation Orders has yet to result in announcements, the TRF requested that further dialogue takes place with the DfT on TROs before further decisions are made.
The NMC raised the issue of licensing reform, the need for positive changes to Compulsory Basic Training – announced by the Government in 2018, but never implemented. Plus the need to consider wider rider licensing policy. This was taken on board and there was consensus in the meeting about the need to take positive steps on CBT regulation.
Finally, Mr Holden was asked to provide DfT officials with the tools and the mandate needed to develop the work of the recently formed government Motorcycle Strategy Group, so that it can move towards creating strategic policies for motorcycling in transport policy overall.
NMC Executive Director Craig Carey-Clinch said: “This was a very positive ministerial meeting and Mr Holden was clear about what he does and doesn’t know about motorcycling and was keen to know more. His strong support for motorcycles in bus lanes was very welcome, as was his open mind about many of the issues that the NMC raised. NMC members were able to raise individual issues and received a positive reception to these.
But although Mr Holden seems open to developing motorcycling as a transport option, it was very clear that the long-standing view that motorcycling is a safety problem to be solved and not a transport opportunity to be supported, is still firmly embedded in some parts of the DfT. NMC members contend that this viewpoint continues to act against motorcycle safety and made that point firmly. Though more positively, the Council is now engaged in a series of policy processes with the DfT additional to safety and the Council is gradually working towards creating a much better government policy environment. Key to this, will be the development of a new motorcycling strategy and we welcome the Minister’s support for the work of the Motorcycle Strategy Group and we look forward to working with officials on a range of matters relating to this.