Can I be the Minister for Motorcyclists please?

With the news that the government is ploughing £20m into the UK’s decrepit cycle network, Toad ponders why motorcyclists are so far down Westminster’s agenda.

Can I be the Minister for Motorcyclists please?

AS the news arrived that the UK is planning to spend £20m on upgrading the UKs cycling networks, it got me thinking: what do us motorcyclists have to do to get our own network built for us?

And that question got me thinking so hard, I turned to Google, to see if I could ask the question to somebody in a position of power. Then I remembered there was a very important man in Westminster called Chris Heaton-Harris, who has a very important job. He’s the minister of walking and cycling. That is literally his title.

I mean come on, if he can do that, I want to be the Minister of Pogo Sticks and Pillow Fights – surely that’s a job worth doing?

Once I’d stopped chuckling to myself, I decided to give Chris a call and see if there was a Minister for Motorcycles and if they’d be willing to speak to me. Sadly, Chris wasn’t in, but a nice gentleman in his constituency office gave me his email and asked me to get in touch. I have but haven’t had a reply yet, I’ll update you with what they say.

So, my question to Chris was basically this:

‘Why do bicycles people get such a sweet deal in parliament, yet motorcyclists seem to get sweet FA?’

You see, here’s part of my problem; we don’t have a Minister for Motorcycles in the HoP. Lembit Öpik was an MP and he was/might still be closely tied to MAG and the BMF, but that’s like sitting in the stands at the FA cup and shouting at the players and expecting them to respond. It’s not being on the pitch making any sort of difference!

If you break down the average motorcyclist, on an average bike, doing average things, in fuel duty alone UK bikers bring in over £200m to the government’s coffers. I worked out a mid-size bike doing about 4,000 miles a year would spend just under £2k on petrol alone. And that’s not even taking into account tax on new bike sales, OTR registration costs, road tax, VAT on bike clothing, IPT on insurance and VAT on spares and home servicing costs.

For those of us with more than one bike, we’re chucking even more cash into the economy too!

Regardless of the type of bike you ride and how expensive it was, I cannot see how the UK cycling community contributes as much the UK economy as the motorcyclists do. But, time and time again, bikers get a raw deal when it comes to any kind of leg up from the people in suits.

It took motorcycle crime in London to reach the point where the public was in danger before the Met stepped up and started doing something. Yet still if your bikes nicked you won’t even get a visit, just a crime reference number to pass on to the Insurance company – who’ll then rinse your excess and strip you of your No Claims Discount!

So that got me thinking further about what a Minister for Motorcycling would actually do. Well for a start the oh-so-familiar photo-op of an MP riding into Westminster would be gone – this MP would have to be a biker. I’d want them to be a boots on the ground type of person, and by riding a bike (not just for photo-calls) they’d have no choice but to immerse themselves in the world that we must live in.

I’d want them to set up a take the issues that most of us rant about online – a bit like I’m doing here – and take them to parliament. I’d want somebody to be able to express to the government in simple terms how much good motorcyclists bring to the UK, in terms of congestion reduction in cities, environmental support and how much we benefit the economy.

For the most part, it’s these factors that the people in Westminster seem to forget. The trouble is they only see the negative videos and stories that get pushed around the tabloids. The bad news created by the tiny percentage of bad apples that you find in all social communities.

So why are we constantly overlooked by the UK government – where’s our minster for motorcycling?

Probably out playing on his pogo stick…

Do you think a voice in parliament that was there solely to represent us motorcyclists would be a good thing? Let us know in the comments below.

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