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Will banning bikes solve Spain’s pollution problems?

The Spanish cities of Barcelona and Madrid will make entering the city centre on a motorcycle virtually impossible. This is reported by Spanish FEMA member AMM (Asociación Mutua Motera).

In the last decade the Spanish city of Madrid, for example, took measures to counter pollution by lowering speed limits on roads entering the capital. Madrid also introduced APRs (Áreas de Prioridad Residencial), areas where non-residents are not allowed to drive.

Until now, motorcycles have been exempt from any restrictions, but that is about to end on 30 November 2018. At that date the existing APRs will be extended and united into one big APR, called Central Madrid. The new APR will cover practically the entire downtown area of Madrid.

Residents may enter the area in their vehicles but only park in their own neighbourhood. Non-residents whose vehicles hold CERO and ECO energy labels may also enter the area. And those with B or C energy labels may only enter to park in a private or public parking lot, not in the street.

AMM will be part of the protest on Sunday 2 December in Barcelona. The protest is organized by AMC (Catalonian Motera Association) along with other organizations. Click on the AMM logo for a full statement in Spanish.

The classification levels for motorcycles
– Zero: electric with a range of 40 km or more
– ECO: electric with a range of less than 40 km
– C: internal combustion, Euro 3 or Euro 4 regulation
– B: internal combustion, Euro 2 regulation
– Without classification: they do not fulfil any of the previous conditions

For motorcyclists, the new rules in Madrid will forbid access to the city centre with bikes that are registered before 2003 (38.79% of motorcycles in Madrid are registered before 1 July 2003 and have no classification). There are only 1,625 electric motorcycles and 897 electric mopeds in Madrid. Motorcycles registered after 1 July 2003 can only enter the city between 07.00-22.00h. The fine for riding a bike into the city without the correct environmental classification label will be 90 Euro’s.

The determent of motorcycle and moped use in Madrid will not be limited to the new environmental regime: under new rules, motorcycle parking on sidewalks will be restricted. However, Madrid has 350,164 registered motorcycles and 94,113 registered mopeds, and only 6.500 dedicated parking spaces for motorcycles.

Approximately three quarters of a million people commute into the city to work every day; approximately 32.250 of these commuters use a motorcycle or other powered two-wheeler to go to work or school. If these riders were to switch to a car or to public transport, congestion (and therefore pollution) would become a lot worse.

Motorcycles should be exempt from any measure because of the benefits they bring in easing congestion in the city. Motorcyclists are not standing still in traffic jams and motorcyclists do not ride around looking for a parking space. Authorities in Madrid are focussing on walking, cycling and public transport, omitting the fact that motorcycles should be part of the mobility mix.

Top photograph by Moto1pro