Motorcycle Monday: Banning Bikes From Public Roads Becoming Reality?

Oct 5, 2020 3 min read
Motorcycle Monday: Banning Bikes From Public Roads Becoming Reality?

Hear us out before drawing a knee-jerk conclusion.

A new report out of the UK sheds some light on a possible and disturbing new trend: county councils there might be trying to ban motorcycles from public roads slowly. The reasoning is reportedly that getting rid of motorcycles will save motorcyclists’ lives.

This is like the old saying about burning down the village to save the village. And while it might seem overly alarmist to say motorcycles could be banned from public roads in the UK, US, or anywhere else by justifying the lives saved by just such a measure, we’ve seen in 2020 all kinds of radical changes to public health enforcement using the same reasoning.

photo credit: Harley-Davidson

One of the counties in England that’s been cited by British Motorcyclists Federation, Trail Riders Fellowship, Motorcycle Action Group, and Vintage Motor Cycle Club is Oxfordshire. Statements about the safety, environmental impact, and space requirements of motorcycles have reportedly been brought up by county officials. And while bike enthusiasts and others have been able to address these concerns, they could easily pop up anywhere else.

Just look at the NHTSA page about motorcyclist safety, which declares “motorcycle riders are still over-represented in traffic fatalities.” Measures to make drivers more aware, teach motorcyclists to ride more defensibly, and to boost helmet usage have had only small effects. All it takes is a push from politicians or bureaucrats to make riding a bike in public the enemy of the people.

Yes, before 2020 we would’ve written this kind of talk off as alarmist, a wild conspiracy theory developed by people with overactive imaginations and too much time on their hands. But after watching sweeping, unquestioned health policies enacted in many areas with little to no discussion about whether or not they should even be put into place, coupled with the reluctance to roll most of those back because “if they save just one life they’re worth the sacrifice”, we can see the same possibly happening with motorcycles.

Another potential avenue that’s been cited for potentially banning motorcycles from public roads is these so-called “zero emissions zones.” Instead of overtly stating motorcycles pollute and therefore are banned, they’ve been completed omitted from plans for these zones in different areas.

photo credit: Harley-Davidson

That might seem like an odd way of getting rid of a vehicle which is far more fuel efficient than something with four wheels, but they’re not “zero emissions” and so the concern seems justified. Plus, county councils have argued the engines on motorcycles pollute more than car engines. While there are electric motorcycles on the market, just like with electric cars they’re out the financial reach for most. There are other design shortcomings of electric bikes people can debate all day long.

Another attack being leveled at motorcycles by city and county councils has been their size. That one feels like it’s out of left field, but the reasoning is that motorcycles are apparently far larger than bicycles, so they require more space to park. With the advent of electric bicycles, it seems some feel motorcycle are no longer welcome in dense urban areas. That’s shocking since one would think they’d be warmly welcomed as an alternative to cars.

Think this couldn't happen in the United States? Consider this: Governor Newsom of California has declared new gas-powered vehicles will be banned from his state in just 15 years. This move has been hailed by some as a solution to climate change. What would it take to start banning gas-powered vehicles from certain cities and counties?

As for banning "dangerous" vehicles from US roads, we've seen calls for that as well. Motor1 and others questioned if the Dodge Demon should be legal to drive on public streets. This concern isn't so far-fetched after all.  

What we’re talking about isn’t necessarily sweeping and sudden legislation that bans motorcycles from all roads. No, it’s more likely going to be a subtle, gradual thing where they’re disinvited from certain areas of different cities and counties. That ban then slowly grows over time as public opinion turns against the perceived dangers of bikes, including environmental. In other words, everyone needs to stay alert and be watchful for anti-motorcycle bias since it seems it might be growing.

Source: British Motorcyclists Federation

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