Motorcycle ban no longer a threat in the UK
In the leaked letter, sent in January to all Chief Police Officers with responsibilities for rural areas, Mr Meacher said he had looked at banning bikes from the roads in National Parks and Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, but had been advised by Local Authorities that it would be difficult to do so. In view of this, he has urged the police to enforce the law on speeding and dangerous driving instead.
The BMF has no problem with the law being fairly applied, but objected to all motorcyclists being targeted in this way. Mr Meacher had fallen into the trap of tarring all motorcyclists with the same brush said the BMF – but it now appears Mr Meacher’s intentions have been misunderstood.
Mr Meacher had talked of ‘the growing problem of motorcycling’ and its ‘impact on visitors’ and of ‘interfering with people’s enjoyment’. He had failed to realise that motorcyclists are people too and visiting a National Park by bike is not only far more enjoyable than in a car, it has less environmental impact too!
As a lobby group the BMF has been heavily involved with the police and local authorities over numerous reports of irresponsible behaviour by bikers, so we don’t deny that there are some bikers who have caused problems in rural areas, but it’s those riders who should be concentrated on, not those who simply prefer to travel by bike. Talk of bans on bikers just because of the irresponsible few is like banning all football matches just because of a few hooligans!
The BMF is pleased that Mr Meacher has clarified the position and that he is not anti-bike, but we are still concerned that such things as bans were considered in the first place. The BMF will be asking Mr Meacher for a meeting to discuss a more rational approach to the problem.
This is the letter that Michael Meacher reportedly sent to the police in January:
“I am writing to you and to other Chief Police Officers with responsibility for all or parts of a National Park or Area of Outstanding Beauty (AONB), to seek your help in dealing with the growing problem of motorcycling on roads in these areas.
The number of motorcyclists appears to be increasing and they are using ever more powerful machines at greater speeds. Road safety is the responsibility of the Department for Transport, Local Government and the Regions, but this Department is concerned about rural issues generally, and, in this case, about the impact not only on people living along the routes but also on visitors. National Parks and AONB’s have been designated because of their importance for the nation as a whole and the activities of irresponsible motorcyclists can interfere with people’s enjoyment of their beauty and other special qualities.
While I recognise that motorcyclists cause problems elsewhere too, I am especially concerned about the designated areas because of their national importance and because their special qualities can make them particularly attractive to motorcyclists. I have looked at whether any action specific to National Parks and AONB’s might be taken. Under s.22 of the 1984 Road Traffic Regulation Act (as amended by s.66 of the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000), local authorities can regulate traffic by means of traffic regulation orders in special areas of the countryside. Such an order could be used to prevent the use of roads by certain types of vehicle where they cause damage or danger. However, I am advised that local authorities would need to justify their proposals and it is highly improbable that they could defend a ban on all motorcycles on a particular road.
It therefore falls to you to continue to deal with the problems through enforcement of the legislation on speeding and dangerous driving, and I am writing to urge you to do so. I know that effective action has already been taken by some police forces and hope that the national roll-out of the new scheme for funding speed cameras in high-risk areas will help. National Park Authorities are those local authorities with responsibility for Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty may be able to advise on the worst trouble-spots.
I am copying this letter to David Jamieson, Parliamentary Under Secretary for Transport, and to Sue Essex, Environment Minister at the National Assembly for Wales, who has responsibility for National Parks and AONB’s in Wales. Copies also go to Martin Fitton, Chief Executive of the Association of National Park Authorities and Mike Taylor, Secretary of the Association of Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
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