Can anyone recall any official government statement that specifically restricted the riding of motorcycles or scooters during the current coronavirus outbreak? Me neither.
Interesting then that some powered-two-wheeler titles are writing stories about ‘riding restrictions’ being lifted. Unfortunately, though, scooterists and motorcyclists seem to be sharing these stories, adding plenty of positive comments along the way. Nothing wrong with looking forward to riding your scooters farther afield of course, but please don’t go thinking there is green light to go and clock up hundreds and thousands of social riding miles, because there isn’t. Yet.
Back in March the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) urged all riders to heed Government advice to stay at home. But that advice was issued by the Government to ALL UK citizens, no matter what their preferred mode of transport was. It was NOT aimed specifically at motorcycle riders. MAG were simply reminding people that this was serious. They stated, “Leisure riding should not be considered essential travel, but where travel is essential motorcycling remains a very sensible choice,” adding, “Taking a ride purely for leisure must be viewed as socially irresponsible at this time when everyone’s travel is restricted. Additionally, if the worst happened, a leisure ride could place more burdens on an already stretched NHS and emergency services.”
So to clarify, the Government asked us ALL to stay at home unless absolutely necessary.
People couldn’t grasp this of course, with friends in Cornwall telling us that holiday-makers and second-home owners were still traveling down there (putting at risk the fact the south west is one of the least affected areas of the UK – so far), in Wales they were having to turn people back at the borders, and the Derbyshire Peak District was inundated with hundreds and thousands of people who suddenly felt the urge to take up exercise… miles away from their homes.
And I hate to think how many first-time cyclists injured themselves on newly purchased pushbikes!
As a result, many local car parks have been closed nationwide in an attempt to prevent people from driving to take exercise – walking there and and back being the obvious solution of course!
Last weekend the rather confusing Government announcement did suggest travel restrictions were to be lifted as of Wednesday (tomorrow) in England alone, with the suggestion that more people should be returning to work (but preferably without using public transport) and that travelling farther from your home by vehicle to take exercise would be allowed.
The Government however did not single out motorcycle riding, because they didn’t in the first place. The latest guidelines again apply to everyone, whatever your preferred mode of personal transport.
What the government did NOT say however, was that non-essential journeys were to be allowed. This of course may be the difficult part for some members of the public; the burden of decision has been placed on our shoulders by the Government on how we interpret their words as to what a necessary journey actually is. Going to work? Yes. Shopping for food? Yes. Travelling to a specific place to take a walk? Hmm, maybe… Going for a motorbike or scooter ride with our mates just because you want to? Not really. Driving from London to Newquay to go surfing? Again, no.
We spoke to the MCIA (Motorcycle Industry Association) and a spokesman told us, “MCIA has always championed the benefits of PTWs and supports the safe use of scooters in line with the relevant Covid-19 national government guidance in place at the time.
“As ever, MCIA is fighting get PTWs accepted as a valid alternative to public transport during the current crisis and to be a permanent part of transport policy in the future, which you would think would be a no-brainer, but unfortunately we seem to have a lot of historical baggage holding us back.
“We are riders and we love scoots and bikes, but we ask riders to remember, especially during these unusual times, that we are all ambassadors for riding and each flamboyant piece of road riding, or loud pipe, makes our fight to get PTWs accepted as serious transport harder.
“Ride safe and stay safe.”
So for all those who think the Government has ‘lifted restrictions on riding your motorcycles and scooters’, they haven’t. They have simply announced new guidelines on traveling during the Covid-19 crisis (including the advice to ‘stay as local as possible to your home’).
Stay safe. Protect the NHS. Save lives. And hopefully we’ll see you soon somewhere.
*ScooterNova is an independent scooter magazine, produced by scooterists for scooterists. ScooterNova is printed in Wales and sold via mail-order and through scooter shops around the world. For further information and subscription details please visit our website at www.scooternova.com