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The Guidelines

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2.3 Integrating Motorcycling into Transport Policies and Strategies

Emphasis on Local Transport Plans (LTP) has shifted in recent years.  However, as part of the ‘localism agenda’, robust LTPs are still required to properly reflect the needs and opportunities arising from different modes of transport, including responsible recognition of motorcycling.  When prioritising transport modes, motorcycles figure above cars for their relative efficiency, both in road ­space occupancy and overall lower polluting effect (AGoM 2004). The space required for parking twin­-track vehicles is often un-­costed in LTPs, despite the fact that motorcycles can substantially reduce this urban overhead cost.

2.3.1 Specific issues to cover in an LTP

Previously government guidance on Local Transport Plans drew attention to motorcycling and highlighted useful considerations:

“The use of motorcycles and other powered two-­wheelers is on the increase; greater use of this mode could potentially deliver congestion, accessibility and air quality benefits. However, the potential of this mode has been undermined by a continued association with poor road safety outcomes…Interventions should aim to reduce vulnerability at the same time as improving accessibility for motorcyclists.” (DfT 2004c)

The Government’s Motorcycling Strategy 2005 represented a progressive shift in attitude, formally acknowledged motorcycling as a mainstream form of transport and, although no longer policy, contains useful information.  The MCI’s “Policy Framework for Motorcycling” also contains many factsheets and useful resources.  

Local authorities may use this range of guidance to make a convincing case for motorcycle-­related transport policies.  There is now less distinction between motorcycles, bicycles, electric bicycles, mobility scooters for disabled people and other modes of the widening range of ‘light mobility’ options. A sound strategy for sustainable mobility requires consistent and balanced consideration of the full spectrum, including road space, on-­street and off-­street parking provision, movement and access. Other specific issues the LTP should address include:

  • The need to raise awareness of motorcycles as a legitimate transport mode. Motorcycle use has increased without local or central government encouragement and this is likely to continue.  There is a difference between ‘encouragement’ and ‘making provision’.  Ignoring any vulnerable mode is unacceptable.
  • Recognition of the benefits of motorcycle use and link with specific local land use and transport planning issues.
  • Recognition of the wide spectrum covered by the term “motorcycle” or PTW (from mopeds to large sports and touring machines) and their equally diverse trip purposes.
  • Honest examination of the drawbacks to motorcycling (the most obvious of which being safety) including reliable, data­-led analysis of the local situation. Other concerns may include security and noise. The LTP should contain positive actions to address these concerns.
  • Specific undertakings to implement good practice identified in these Guidelines.
  • The role that motorcycling can play in a local rural transport policy.
  • The growing popularity of electric motorcycles will naturally result in increasing demand and expectation for strategically-placed charging points.

Motorcycles should figure in all Travel Plans, including those for sixth form colleges and higher education, with local authorities taking the lead. Any approach to educational establishments must present information carefully and not be seen as encouraging a move to motorcycles from other modes such as walking, cycling, trains or buses.

It is important to note that a number of local authorities have developed specific motorcycle strategies as part of their Local Transport Plans, including Nottinghamshire (2007), Somerset (2011) and Wiltshire (2011)

The drafting and delivery of Travel Plans (Chapter 5) is often a condition of planning approval for any type of development. Where there are two-­tier local government arrangements, this will require liaison between authorities responsible for roads and those responsible for planning functions.  All modes of travel should be considered within the Travel Plan, including motorcycles. Provision for convenient and secure parking for motorcycles, changing facilities and equipment lockers should be considered.

2.3.2 Congestion Charging

The introduction of London’s congestion charging scheme saw an increase in the use of motorcycles and a reduction in casualty rates for riders within the charging zone (TfL 2004). This suggests that exempting motorcycles from congestion charges has economic and safety benefits.  To maximise the environmental benefits of a switch from cars to motorcycles in London or any other conurbation there should be a commensurate increase in convenient and secure parking provision.

2.3.3 Use of Bus Lanes

Several local authorities allow motorcycles to use bus lanes. This results in journey time savings for motorcyclists without significantly affecting bus operations or cyclists. Another advantage is a reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.  In London, following two trials, motorcycles were given permanent access to bus lanes on the majority of the capital’s red routes from January 2012 .

This decision followed a research report which concluded that:

  • Per kilometre, PTWs took an average of 2 minutes 29 seconds using bus lanes and 2 minutes 46 seconds using only general traffic; and
  • PTW use of bus lanes cut their CO2 emissions and fuel consumption by 0.4-9%.

Plymouth, Bristol, Essex, Brighton, Belfast, Hull and Cambridge also allow the use of bus lanes.

2.3.4 Motorcycle Security

Security of motorcycles at journey’s end is an important policy consideration given the relative ease with which motorcycles can be stolen. The absence of convenient and secure parking can be a severe barrier to motorcycle use or lead to inappropriate or illegal parking.  This needs to be considered for private parking at business premises as well as for on-­street or off-­street parking (Chapter 6).

2.3.5 Social inclusion and 'Wheels to Work'

Motorcycles can reduce social, educational and economic exclusion for people that do not have access to affordable public transport or to a car.  This is especially true for people living in isolated rural communities where public transport is geographically inadequate or restricted by limited timetables.  In some areas, low-­cost, low-­powered and affordable scooters or motorcycles are available to disadvantaged rural residents through the Wheels to Work scheme (“W2W”) which provides accessible transport solutions in order to access education, training and work opportunities (see Chapter 5). In some other areas, local authorities have chosen not to encourage motorcycle use due to a perceived risk and the anti­social use of motorcycles by a minority.