All over Europe bikers have been helping out during the COVID-19 pandemic. FEMA’s Dolf Willigers brings you some of the heartwarming stories you may have missed.
While most of us were forced to stay indoors and work from home and at best could do some shopping and go to our work when we had a ‘vital’ profession, motorcyclists all over Europe proved their added value by supporting the health care services and (mostly elderly) people who suffer most from the circumstances during the Corona crisis.
It isn’t documented too often, but everywhere in Europe volunteers, often unorganized, started to do shopping for people who could not do so themselves, for example because they do not have their own transport or are not able or allowed to leave their homes. In an article in the French magazine Moto Magazine, connected to FEMA member FFMC, some of these volunteers are mentioned, like Marc Lauvergeat, who rode many kilometres on his Honda Pan European to deliver food and also to distribute clothing, shoes and tents to homeless people.
The United Riders in France also care for the homeless in this crisis and distribute necessary supplies to them. The same kind of activities were to be seen in the United Kingdom, for example by the Phoenix Motorcycle Club in Stoke-on-Trent. In Spain, volunteers of our member AMM (Asociación Mutua Motera) distribute food and initiated a collection to buy milk for children from families in need. Probably there have been more of this kind of initiatives that I just do not know of.
More attention was given to the many riders who supported the health services. Of course, the Blood Bikes volunteers in Ireland who already did much work in distributing blood, blood products, breast milk, medical products, samples for testing, test results or transplant related tissue between hospitals. During the Corona crisis they transport personal protection equipment (PPE) too. Also in Ireland a motorcycle club called Dead Ducks MCC do the same. In Northern Ireland this is done by the riders of the Volunteer Bikers Group, who already clocked over 37,000 miles (almost 60,000 kilometres).
In the United Kingdom an example of such work is Bike Shed, an organization of volunteers who collect personal protective equipment parts for assembly, deliver assembled PPE gear to front-line healthcare workers, along with food, medicine, and will also be distributing NHS lung-capacity testing kits.
In France again, the volunteers of FFMC PPC (Paris Petite Couronne) transport face masks that are produced by two collectives: Couturières Solidaires and Les Petits Masques Solidaires. In Paris the motorcycle taxi company Felix-Citybird transported free of charge medical staff who would express the need. Here I should also mention the initiatives to supply health care workers with motorcycles (Triumph France, taken over by the mother company in the UK), the donation of 100,000 mouth caps by Cityscoot. In the Netherlands sharing scooter company Felyx makes electric scooters (mopeds) available to restaurants (for a reduced fee) that can use them to distribute meals while they are closed or cannot operate fully.
Last but not least I could also mention the initiative in Sweden where every year on 6th of June the members of SMC Jämtland go their county governor to collect Swedish flags. Then they bring the flags all over the huge county to the citizens who have applied for one. This year the national celebrations are cancelled due to corona. Instead the members of SMC Jämtland have decided to collect money and buy 60 cakes to deliver to staff at hospitals and nursery homes. Again, this is just what I am aware of, probably there have been many more initiatives.
Despite all the negative attention we motorcyclists are getting these days because of sound emissions, it is good to see that many motorcyclists – and others who are involved in motorcycling – manage to use their time, bike and other resources in a positive way and are able to help others. Many of these activities were covered by local magazines or by motorcycle magazines. It also shows the positive sides of motorcycling: the agility in urban areas and jammed traffic, the possibility to go from door to door without too much trouble with parking, the speed, especially in urban areas and last but not least the flexibility. Add to this the possibility to carry a substantial amount of luggage (much more than on a normal push-bike), also the ability to maintain social distancing, and it is obvious why so many motorcycles were used during the Corona crisis and will be used after the Corona crisis. Again, motorcycles are (part of) the solution.
Written by Dolf Willigers
Top photograph courtesy of Emma Lou (Bike Shed Community Response)
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