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British city calls motorcycles a ‘noisy safety risk’

The British city of Cambridge justifies high charges for a Sustainable Travel Zone by calling motorcycling a noisy safety risk. Motorcyclists’ organisation BMF says these proposals are a poorly justified move against motorbikes.

A new consultation from the Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) has suggested that motorcycles are a safety risk, are noisy and that they conflict with cyclists. They have therefore proposed a charge of £5 a day for motorcycles travelling in and around Cambridge (please see the map for the area affected).

The GCP is formed of Cambridge City Council, Cambridgeshire County Council, South Cambridgeshire Council and the University of Cambridge, and aims to bring powers and investment from central government to improve Greater Cambridgeshire. Their new consultation, ‘Making Connections’, proposes to transform transport in and around Cambridge. These proposals include improvements to the bus network, walking and cycling routes and the creation of a Sustainable Travel Zone. As mentioned above, this would see motorbikes and mopeds charged £5 a day (the same as cars) for travelling within the zone between 7am and 7pm on weekdays. This will affect residents, commuters, visitors to the centre and to the Cambridge University Hospital which will be within the proposed area.

‘BMF would like to know where the idea comes from that motorcycles conflict with pedal cycles, as there doesn’t seem to be any data backing it up.’

The basis for these proposals is to improve air quality, emissions, and congestion. Why then, have the benefits of powered two-wheelers been ignored? Their ability to filter through traffic helps to reduce congestion, and they have lower emissions than cars. The British Motorcyclists Federation (BMF) – a member of FEMA – feels that the decision to charge them all the same rate is unjustified.

The idea that motorbikes and mopeds conflict with cyclists appears unfounded. Research from the University of Westminster into cycling injury risk attributed the greatest risk to cyclists to be poor cycling infrastructure, and motorcycles were not mentioned. Additionally, it has been shown that upward trends in motorcycling have not caused an increase in motorcycle collisions, and there is no evidence that motorcycling is more dangerous than pedal cycling in Cambridge.

BMF’s Emily Rochester

BMF’s Government Relations Executive Emily Rochester said: ‘We do not accept the reasonings put forward by the GCP and would like to know where the idea comes from that motorcycles conflict with pedal cycles, as there doesn’t seem to be any data backing it up. These proposals are a poorly justified move against not only motorbikes but all privately-owned transport.’

Councillor for Cambridge City Council, Elisa Meschini (photo:

Emily Rochester approached the chair of GCP and Councillor for Cambridge City Council, Elisa Meschini, for comment and requested that their share any evidence for their claims that motorcycles conflict with pedal cycles. We received a generic response from a GCP spokesperson which did nothing to elaborate on the justification already presented in the consultation: “The Greater Cambridge Partnership (GCP) has listened to the views of our community to put forward ambitious proposals which would transform how people travel around Greater Cambridge. We want to create a London-style transport network that works for everyone. With faster, cheaper, more reliable bus services running from 5am until 1am – as well as more investment in better walking and cycling routes – to cut congestion, improve air quality and tackle inequality. These improvements would be paid for upfront by the GCP and phased in over four years before the proposed introduction of a Sustainable Travel Zone with a road user charge. A charge is proposed for all types of motor vehicles driving within the zone, which would fund the bus network in the future and deliver the space needed for more buses and active travel upgrades. Motorbikes, although smaller and less polluting than cars, would be charged £5 as they still contribute to pollution and congestion. This is a once in a generation opportunity to create a first-class transport network for Greater Cambridge – we encourage people who live, work and visit the region to tell us their views on the proposals in the ongoing public consultation.” BMF will continue to try and engage with the GCP on this issue.

Source: BMF

Top photograph courtesy of Triumph.