A Motorcycle Safety and Transport Policy Framework
We will develop a ‘two wheel paradigm’ encompassing a range of vehicles from cycles, electrically assisted pedal cycles, ePTWs and motorcycles. This will be achieved by close working between the motorcycle and bicycle industry.
A motorcycle was initially a bicycle fitted with an engine. In earlier years, the motorcycle and bicycle industry had the same manufacturers and were represented since 1890 by the same industry association, The Cycle and Motorcycle Trades Association. This union ended in 1973 when the motorcycle and bicycle sections were split into two autonomous bodies BA and the MCIA).
Given the growth of cycling and the increase in electrically assisted pedal cycles and other two wheeled products, there is added impetus for the two associations to work more closely on issues of joint concern and interest.
Currently, there are a variety of two-wheeled road vehicles on the market. At one end of the scale are pedal powered bicycles and at the other are 135kw motorcycles. In between, there is a continuum comprising of 4kw mopeds, 250w electrically assisted pedal cycles and much more. Whilst the products may vary in design, power output and mass, the essential design components makes them all quite closely related.
Issues such as shared space, licencing, road safety, etc. need addressing and the motorcycle industry and cycle industry, through the auspices of the MCIA and Bicycle Association, will work closely to address the problems and opportunities presented by cross over products such as the soon-to-be more powerful power assisted pedal cycles allowed under European Type Approval rules.
There are also other issues of joint concern to the uptake of cycling and motorcycling which the two organisations will work together on. Road maintenance is a key issue for both cyclists and motorcyclists alike. Another is road user awareness and the tendency for four wheeled vehicle users not to consider the differing needs of two wheeled vehicle users. This is not just a problem at the point of use but, as cyclists have ably demonstrated in London, at the point of planning too.
Over the last few years, as battery technology has improved, there has been a rapid increase in the number and variety of electric bicycles on the UK’s roads. Up to this point, there has not proven to be a significant safety issue demonstrated. However, compliance has proven to be a problem and consumer awareness is not very good with regards to relevant legislation. Furthermore, legislation in other EU member states has created a significant confusion in the market.
In the UK, pedal cycles with electrical assistance can be legally ridden by anyone over the age of 14 without any of the regulations of a motorcycle (insurance, registration, licence etc.) if they produce no more than 250watts of power (continuously rated) which cuts out at 15.5mph. This output is measured by the manufacturer as part of the bike’s compliance with CE marking requirements and the bike is labelled accordingly.
More than 250 watts of continuously rated power and the electric bicycle ceases to be an electric bicycle and becomes, in the eyes of the law, an electric moped. If the power is over 4000w it becomes an electric motorcycle.
An electric moped (our e-bike with more than 250 watts of continuously rated power) is no different to its petrol powered cousin.
To use it requires training, a driving licence, L-plates, third party insurance, a full sized number plate and a motorcycle helmet.
Two Wheel Paradigm and the Door to Door Journey
Of course, as the products on offer converge, the common sense distinction amongst policymakers between bicycle and motorcycle begins to blur. Where does access to “cycle only” facilities or funding begin and end? The MCIA contends that the continuum will become so blurred that unless there is a clear safety issue, motorcycling (and by extension, over 250w electric bicycles) should receive the same treatment in policy terms.
At the moment, there is no government promotion or funding to support motorcycling and only limited sums allocated to motorcycle safety publicity. However, there is literally hundreds of millions of pounds spent by governments across the UK to promote cycling and cycle safety (currently noted by the DfT as £5 per head of population). The reasons for this are manifold with congestion and pollution reduction being key factors. MCIA/NPCC supports this investment in cycling, but notes that compared to the resources put into motorcycling, any kind of level playing field is entirely absent.
Answers to parliamentary questions have revealed just how imbalanced the situation has become. Of the £5 per head of UK population spent on cycling, around £1.39 of this (£437.6 million over 5 years) has come directly from the Department for Transport via the Local Sustainable Transport Fund, Cycling England and various other sources. The equivalent spend from the DfT on motorcycling over 5 years is £6.8 million in total, or around 2p per head of population.
Department for Transport Resources on Motorcycling
(Source: answer to parliamentary question 20/11/14)
There needs to be a shift in thinking if society as a whole is to benefit from all the opportunities that came from a proper ‘two-wheeled’ approach. More powerful electric bicycles, small motorcycles and even some larger motorcycles can significantly assist in the area of efficient and cleaner mobility. Whilst pedal powered bicycles may be excellent at shorter journeys of only a few miles, longer journeys of up to 20 or 30 miles are easily possible by motorcycle or scooter on a daily basis. MCIA argues that government should pick the right tool for the job and support motorcycling as part of a properly integrated transport delivery plan for ‘Two-Wheeled Vehicles’ (bicycle and motorcycle). This would then create a 0-30 mile integrated personal transport and mobility opportunity.
- The MCIA will work with the government and cycling groups to improve the access to funding and promotion of the growing number of commuter and utility motorcycles on the road as part of a complete two wheel paradigm.
- Explore links with ongoing Highways England cycle accessibility strategy work into journey integration, where a motorcycle or scooter (as an alternative to a bicycle) can be used to complete part of a journey.
UPDATE – Action 33 – To Develop a Partnership with the Bicycle Industry
Meetings have been held between the MCIA and the Bicycle Association to consider how the partnership can progress. There is an ever closer union between the two organisations.
A proposal has been developed to have an electric bicycle feature at Motorcycle Live 2017.
The CEOs of both organisations are in regular contact.