Bad air…

There have been motorcycling positives and negatives over the past month or so – and bad air in more ways than one, writes Selina Lavender, MAG National Chair. I like to think there are far more positives, but that doesn’t obscure the fact that some people seem determined to enforce their view of the world and that’s beginning to affect the rest of us. Some are common criminals. Others mean well for the environment, but it’s getting to the stage where perhaps we need a more objective assessment of things before anything which depends on pistons and a crankshaft is banned from Britain’s roads.

Let’s start with the criminals. News of motorcycle crime in London has hit the national headlines as youths use acid in bike-jackings. It’s shameful that things have gone this far and, for me, shows how CCTV is no substitute for police on the streets. Now that attacks have reached this level it is a serious issue for those who use motorised two-wheelers in our cities.

MAG will continue to work with other agencies for potential solutions to this issue and are pushing the police for more robust action. It’s not easy for them either. The utter tossers committing the crimes are too dumb to understand how the basic rules of society work. It’s hard to reason with pondlife like that. Unfortunately, there’s now talk of vigilantism, with various rumours going round that the yobs will get a dose of what they themselves are doing.  MAG does not condone vigilantism and we’re working with the police for structured solutions. But it’s an indication of the strength of feeling about this issue that such talk is rattling about on the social networks – and it is to be hoped that we can work with the authorities before others mete out summary justice against the perpetrators.

On a much happier note, up in Cumbria things are going from strength to strength. Michael Armstrong is our man on the ground in this bike-friendly north-western corner of England. He’s been engaging with his local politicians for a long time now and the result is that three of the six local MPs have signed up to MAG, the latest being Trudy Harrison MP. Well played, Michael. Why not take his lead and ask your local MP to sign up too? It helps us a lot to have many voices in Parliament.

Also in Cumbria there has been a significant result with the council. This is all about fitting anti-slip inspection (man-hole) covers. The council has committed to replacing worn and damaged metal inspection covers with those having a high grip coating, which provides a more consistent grip for a longer period than a traditional cover. It’s a big breakthrough and follows campaigning work by MAG across many years. Step forward Coun Paul Turner, a former MAG chairman, who has been instrumental in this development.

Still in Cumbria, MAG has been working with Sellafield management on adequate parking for all workers and visitors on motorcycles. Motorcycle-specific, secure parking is a campaign that has been around for a long period. We regularly revisit it and have documentation we can send out to you so you can make a case for it in your area.

You’d have to be living under a rock not to have heard the latest from the Government on tackling air quality: the plan to ban the sale of new diesel and petrol cars and vans. It’s already received a great deal of criticism on many different fronts. What effect will this have on motorcycles, both existing and new, remains to be seen; however you can rest assured that we will be looking closely at this over the coming months. By the time this edition hits your doormats (are you still allowed those under health and safety?!) the National Committee will have finalised a MAG statement to be freely shared.

We’ll work with the Motor Cycle Industry Association on this, and we won’t be sugar-coating anything. In the usual MAG manner we will be honest and open, sharing our members’ views as riders. Sure, petrol-heads need to embrace modern technology, so we appreciate that there is balance and middle ground to be found. The reduction in the use of petrol vehicles will be ongoing as the technology advances anyway. Whether the Government needs to wade in with heady statements about banning petrol-powered vehicles is a big question. It’s going to be a balancing act as we look to keep pace with the developments and consultations that will no doubt increase as the years go on. I invite you to get in touch with your views and any consultations you spot. We’re looking at the politics, the principles and the physics. Whether bad air even does the damage it’s accused of is an issue we’re exploring. There’s a lot of fashion in political statements, and that’s okay when it doesn’t take people’s rights away. This time the stakes are very high – so we’ve got to get the facts right first.

I’m going to take the opportunity to recognise Thames Valley MAG in this article, and this year I attended Chinnor Bike Dayz for the first time. As you would expect from a MAG group they were warm and welcoming. The event runs not just with the support of MAG members, their spouses and families, but a wider group of individuals who enjoy being part of creating a profoundly rewarding weekend. I felt very honoured to receive, on behalf of MAG, a cheque for £21,500 which has been raised across the region. I know how much effort goes into raising a pound for riders’ rights – in other words YOUR rights – in the current economic climate and can imagine with some humility how much effort has gone into raising this magnificent sum. Every penny raised for MAG is much appreciated and wisely spent, and I’m sure a great deal of fun was had in the process of the fundraising efforts which led to this tremendous amount.

All around the country, MAG folk have been putting on and supporting events in order to spread the MAG message. Enjoy your riding and remember to support the organisation that supports the rider by attending one or more of our fabulous events across the country – or visiting a MAG stand at an event near you. We’re here for you – I hope you’ll join up and help us protect your freedom as a citizen who chooses two wheels.

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