'Hackney Council forcing me to choose - my bike or my home'

A change to motorcycle parking rules in Hackney is being branded as unfair, with one motorcycle-riding resident now left with an unthinkable choice

A motorcycle parked on the roadside in London
A motorcycle parked on the roadside in London

MOTORCYCLE parking rules in the London borough of Hackney look set to change this year, and it’s a move that could put many residents who use a motorcycle in a perilous housing situation.

The move will see pavement parking of motorcycles banned, and for many in what are called car-free neighbourhoods (of which there are around ten postcodes in this borough alone), that could mean they will be forced to leave their homes. And this is on top of the pressure already being piled on Londoners, and those in other parts of the UK, with the rollout of ULEZ schemes.

The problem is twofold, first up, without pavement parking available to them, bikers will have no other option other than to park on the road. ‘Okay’, you may be thinking ‘problem solved’, but it’s not that simple. Not only does on-road parking bring its own challenges,  vehicle safety and security are just two, but Hackney has parking charges for on-street parking in the borough. Adding to the problem is the fact that those living in these car-free areas are bound by the deeds of the property in which they live, which prevents them from applying for parking permits to gain discounted on-road parking.

Save London Motorcycling protest against Hackney Council parking charges on 8 October.
Save London Motorcycling protest against Hackney Council parking charges on 8 October.

For somebody riding a 50cc step-through scooter, that means the change could cost as much as £2,600 per year. That’s a move that the protest group Save London Motorcycling says will hit the lowest-paid workers the hardest.

The upshot of all of this is that, at a time when people are already financially stretched, some people are seriously having to consider whether they keep the bike, or the house as if this goes ahead, they won’t be able to do both.

One such resident is Roxane, who rides a bike and has and can’t reach her work via public transport. Speaking about the changes she said:

“My flat is in a car-free development so I don’t own a car - instead I’ve chosen to use a motorbike to get around, mostly because my workplace was difficult to reach by public transport. Now with the new rules for motorbike parking, Hackney Council will be banning people like me from getting a permit.

“It seems Hackney Council has unfairly decided to make the life of 2-wheel users really difficult. They had already massively reduced the amount of motorcycle parking bays in my area. It just doesn’t seem fair that the conditions applied when I moved into my flat are now being changed for the worst - Hackney Council are forcing me to choose between my bike and my home which just seems completely unfair and disproportionate.”

One unlikely advocate of residents in these areas taking to two wheels is Green Party Councillor Alastair Binnie-Lubbock, who thinks the change wasn’t thought through before being implemented.

“When the Green Group raised the issue of residents living in car free developments who will suddenly be unable to park their motorbikes, even if they're fully electric, it appeared that the decision-makers hadn't given this consequence of the plans much thought. It really is false advertising to call these car-free developments and then retrospectively also make them inhospitable to motorbikes. We should be trying to encourage people to move along a hierarchy of transport modes and motorbikes are generally more environmentally--friendly as well as contributing less to traffic and they clearly take up significantly less public space on our streets than private cars.”

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