National Motorcyclists' Council opposes London council's parking charge proposal

The National Motorcyclists' Council has given its support to the campaign group opposing parking charges proposed by a London council.

Several motorcycles parked int eh same space as one car. - Save London Motorcycling

Campaigners opposing proposed parking charges for motorcycles in a London borough have gained the support of the National Motorcyclists’ Council. 

Save London Motorcycling (SLMC) has been campaigning against parking charges proposed by Hackney Council earlier this year for most of 2022, but despite their protests and attendance of Council meetings, the Council continues to press ahead with its plans. 

SLMC says that the new parking charges could cost motorcycle and other powered two-wheeler (PTW) owners who either live in Hackney or commute to Hackney up to £14,000 per year, which would amount to motorcyclists being priced out of road use in the borough. Parking permits would be available under the plan but even then the cost would be large. For Hackney residents £850 would be required for the permit, while businesses would have to pay £1,800.

The Council’s view is that a reduction in motorcycle use in Hackney would reduce pollution, therefore improving air quality, and reduce congestion on the borough’s roads, assuming that those who are no longer using their PTW will switch to either bicycles or public transport. 

However, SLMC’s response to that is that the evidence the Council is basing this assumption on is flawed and outdated. The National Motorcyclists’ Council (NMC) also supports this view. 

The NMC said: “This evidence is based on a single 20-year-old study from Switzerland, which used a comparison of Euro 3 cars with pre-Euro standard motorcycles (pre 1999) which were up to 10 years older than the cars at the time of the study.” 

Of course, modern motorcycles on the UK market are built to Euro5 certification standards, which has reduced both Nitrogen Oxide and Carbon Dioxide emissions. Of course, not all motorcycles in the UK adhere to Euro5, but that is why tiered systems based on emissions on a model-by-model basis is the fair way to treat pollution-concerned charging policies such as this one, rather than a flat rate for all vehicles regardless of their homologation standard. 

The NMC announced last Friday (9 December 2022) that it “has lent its support to the existing campaign against parking charges,” being conducted by SLMC in conjunction with the Greater London Motorcycle Action Group (GLMAG). 

The NMC said it “is calling for councillors in the London Borough of Hackney to reconsider their decision of [23 November] to refuse to review the evidence that was put forward to support proposed new parking charges in the Borough.” 

The meeting of 23 November was the most recent occasion where SLMC campaigners met with councillors. Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors reportedly voted in the favour of the campaigners to review the evidence on which the proposal has been based, however, this was voted down by the Labour councillors.

However, the proposal itself will be reviewed by the Hackney Council Cabinet, but the NMC’s concern is that without updated facts about motorcycle emissions a review is unlikely to lead to an alternative decision. “Without consideration of up-to-date evidence and facts about modern motorcycle emissions,” the NMC said, “plus the dynamics of motorcycling in London and its importance for mobility and access to work, this action is likely to lead to a restatement of the original decision by Cabinet.”

The NMC also says that a written request has been submitted by the campaign group headed by SLMC and GLMAG to the Council for them to “properly consider new evidence,” while updated evidence has also been submitted. 

Save London Motorcycling said: “While we were pleased that our petition was referred to Cabinet, we have serious concerns that the motion to consider relevant up to date evidence was voted down. This seems an abdication of Hackney’s responsibility to consider all relevant evidence when making decisions, and for policies to be proportionate, rational and fair. 

“Cabinet were presented with incorrect and incomplete information when taking the decision in 2021 to align motorcycle parking with car parking charges. Consequently, we consider the decision itself to be invalid and it must be looked at again, taking into account accurate and relevant evidence on motorcycle emissions and their importance to London’s mobility and economy.”  

The NMC’s Craig Carey-Clinch said: “NMC members are strongly concerned that if Hackney successfully imposes these charges, it could open the floodgates to disproportionate parking charges elsewhere in London and across the UK. 

“We are delighted to lend the NMC’s support to the great work done by SLM and London MAG so far and will be working closely with them as the next steps for the campaign are considered.”

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