By Selina Lavender
You know that feeling when you’re messing about with a cylinder head or gearbox, and you look at your watch and hours have passed without you even noticing? That’s what 2017 feels like to me. Where did the time go?
It’s clear that MAG has had great success working on the mechanics of Government, opening doors and getting motorcycling on the agenda at Ministerial level.
While meetings aren’t the reason we passed our bike tests, they’re the reason our bikes might still be usable in a world which prefers to ban rather than allow citizens to do things like biking.
There’s been a very dark side to 2017 too, though. Motorcycle crime continues to dominate the concerns of many riders, and it’s a hot topic inside and outside biking circles. You may have seen a suggestion to combat motorcycle crime by banning pillion riders on bikes in problem areas of London? MAG was quickly on the case thanks to our magnificent Greater London regional rep, Tim Fawthrop. The positive outcome of this negative news story is that we now have several planned interactions with members of the Greater London Assembly (GLA), to specifically address motorcycle crime in London boroughs. The best advice remains to lock your bike and make it undesirable, or at least not an easy target, for the scrotes plaguing our streets with their sub-human criminality.
Also relating to motorcycle crime, we have put in ‘freedom of information’ requests to every police force in the UK, asking for their figures on motorcycle theft, their initiatives to tackle it, and whether they have an officer assigned specifically for it. It was a big task, but we got it done and it’s going to be important in terms of getting to grips with the problem. As the responses come in, these will be collated so that we can form a picture of the situation across the UK and engage with the police.
Transport plans of the UK’s towns and cities are also high on the political agenda. They’re turning into a threat not just for riders, but also for the prosperity of the places they’ll affect. MAG senses an environmental agenda based on dodgy assumptions, plus the attraction of making money out of emissions. If the policies were logical, they’d exempt motorbikes, and scooters, because we reduce pollution and congestion. We make this point repeatedly, and it’s a worry that we have to continue to do so. Anyone truly committed to reducing emissions wouldn’t punish a mode of transport which helps to do just that. I’ll return to it in a future edition of BSH.
Effective activists make for an effective organisation, good outcomes and communication of a compelling message. With this in mind MAG held its first national training weekend in quite some time. The event was well attended, with activists from all corners of the country making the trip to York. The weekend’s sessions were delivered by activists with on-the-ground experience of what works and some of the pitfalls to avoid. It was a great opportunity to find out more about MAG and to share and learn from each other’s experiences. Everyone felt that the weekend was of great benefit to them, and we’re looking to hold at least one similar event next year. Each attendee left with the resources to deliver similar training in their area, so we further spread good practice and lessons learned.
Thanks to all our supporters we were able to attend Motorcycle Live at Birmingham’s NEC again this year. We received lots of positive feedback from members and, importantly, engaged with riders who hadn’t previously heard that much about MAG. You never know how far-reaching these types of shows are. It gives us a platform to talk to riders who might not otherwise come into contact with a riders’ rights group like us.
Our stand was staffed by different volunteers throughout the whole nine days: if you visited us, you were guaranteed to speak with one of our loyal members. I must thank Bill Green for stepping up as our stand manager for the whole of the event.
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Selina, MAG National Chair
Join MAG by calling the office on 01926 844 064, visiting their website at www.mag-uk.org (click ‘Join MAG’), or signing up at a local meeting or MAG stand. To find MAG meetings close to you or MAG events in your area check out the website and Facebook pages.