Discuss: There IS a conspiracy to end motorcycling

The conspiracy to end motorcycling is not a conscious plan. It’s far worse, argues MAG President Ian Mutch.

INFAMY! infamy! They’ve got it in for me! So cried Frankie Howard in the TV comedy Up Pompeii and so think many bikers who see themselves as victims of government plots.

Most advanced societies have progressively adopted regulations aimed at protecting people from their own indulgences. Road transport has attracted more than its fair share due to the highly public nature of road accidents. Motorcycle accidents are particularly attractive targets for the nannies. But the uncomfortable reality about bike crash fatalities is that they occur about twenty times as often as car ones per mile travelled. Safety campaigners don’t pick on bikers because they don’t like us. They pick on us because we have a bad casualty rate.

So are they really trying to take us off the roads altogether, as a crude but effective means of cutting those casualties? Look at the increasingly tortuous path to a motorcycle license and you could be forgiven for thinking so. It’s a suspicion fueled by comments like: ‘We may have to consider withdrawing the option of riding motorcycles on the public road’, a blasphemous sentiment attributed to Swedish Professor Claes Tingvall, architect of the ominous Vision Zero safety policy, which seeks to eliminate road casualties entirely.

There are doubtless some people who consciously want to see the back of us but they are in a very small minority. The real nub of this issue is organic. The bubonic plague was not the consequence of a dastardly plot. It spread via a potent combination of acute malignancy with vulnerability, in the absence of protocols that might have curbed the devastating effect. The microbes that generated the plague were as blind to its consequence as they were indifferent to the fate of their victims. That death was the result is no evidence of a plot but merely of a grim inevitability. And it should be of little consolation to us that those who concoct elaborate test requirements, or insist on ridiculous clothing protocols, have no conscious agenda to see us evaporate. Like blind jigsaw pieces, they play out their roles, and a picture that is not of their planning emerges by degree.

What matters is that the organic process by which we can be removed from the road is in progress, fueled by a benign desire to protect us all from harm at any cost to liberty. Ironically, that process is supported by the majority of riders who think that, because certain precautions are sensible, they must not be challenged even when mandated. Many riders are so intellectually lazy they recognise no distinction between taking safety precautions and supporting the prosecution of those who do not.

The phrase ‘If it saves one life it’s worth it,’ may sound like a compassionate maxim that deserves universal applause, but nothing is more pernicious. There may be no single puzzle-maker or plan but the pictures on the lids are clear to see. We need to open our eyes to those images.

IAN Mutch is President of the Motorcycle Action Group and author of five books on motorcycle travel and culture. A former ship's navigating officer, he describes himself as "jolly clever".

That's Mutch's view. What’s yours?