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17-04-2020 MAG exposes ‘blatant anti-motorcycle bias’ in Oxfordshire County Council

Oxford.jpgMAG has formally requested that Oxfordshire County Council withdraw part of its Local Transport and Connectivity Plan documentation after discovering ‘jaw-droppingly inappropriate’ accusations against bikers in their document

 

In an email communication dated 8th April 2020, MAG formally requested that the Council urgently withdraw what it described as a “highly biased and inaccurate document”.  The document in question, entitled “Connectivity: Motorcycles” is one of 28 documents published on the Council’s consultations website as part of what is described as an engagement activity of Oxfordshire County Council's Local Transport and Connectivity Plan. The Council state that they would like survey responses before the full consultation of the Local Transport and Connectivity Plan, which will be out later this year. The Council will use the responses to the engagement to inform the content on the consultation.

MAG’s Director of Campaigns &Political Engagement, Colin Brown, met Councillor Yvonne Constance, Cabinet Member for Environment at Oxfordshire County Council, along with Councillor Alex Hollingsworth, Cabinet Member for Planning and Sustainable Transport at Oxford City Council, in November 2019.  This meeting was facilitated by Councillor John Broad of Cherwell District Council.  Cllr Broad is a MAG member and regularly corresponds with Colin.   At the meeting Colin and Cllr Broad were able to present MAG’s Pathways for Progress document which lays out a sensible and balanced view of motorcycling and how the transport mode can be better integrated into transport policy.

Colin Brown commented “Despite a somewhat terse opening from Cllr Constance, I felt that the meeting went well and the points we made were generally welcomed and found to be of value.  This makes the blatant anti-motorcycle bias displayed in the consultation document hard to understand.  For the Council to allow a document to be published in its name that accuses motorcyclists of being a ‘danger to themselves’ and alludes to ‘places showing drops in collisions once motorised two

wheelers have been banned’ is jaw-droppingly inappropriate.  The document even goes as far as to state MAG’s position that motorcycles are the most sustainable form of private motorised transport and then immediately claim that ‘This is not the same as being sustainable’.  They may as well have just said ‘MAG has a position, but we don’t agree and nor should you’.”

MAG asked Cllr John Broad to give his opinion on the document.  He said: “Having noted that the previous Local Transport Plan 4 only had one mention of motorcycling and that was the accident rate I was determined not to let the same happen to the new Plan 5. The intention of the final document is to produce plans and policies to integrate all forms of transport around Oxfordshire. The other sections of this early document do attempt to debate how this can be achieved for each subject but the Motorcycling Section 28 is just a blatant attempt to ban these vehicles from the roads! During our discussions with the Councillors and Officers I pointed out how cycling is morphing into motorcycling via e-bikes and small commuter bikes and how these can resolve many of the issues around congestion and parking with new electric motorcycles coming onto the market to reduce pollution. Safety should be part of the road infrastructure by design and not by trying to ignore any recognised form of transport. It is extremely disappointing that after such a positive start in discussing motorcycling that some Councillors and Officers have attempted to use the County Transport Plan to try to un-invent this long-established transport system of Powered Two Wheelers”.

MAG’s President, Ian Mutch, described the document as “amateurish” whilst MAG Director, Ian Churchlow, commented “I've seen some biased papers on motorcycling before but this one is right out there”

MAG has received many comments from members and a response from a senior Oxford City Councillor who has expressed his shock at how the motorcycle section has been written.

MAG asked Oxfordshire County Council for comment, and we received the following statement:

‘I thank the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) for raising comments on the Local Transport and Connectivity Plan Motorcycle Topic paper. I am sorry that they feel that it is biased in its outlook as this was not the intention but accept that it was construed this way. This paper is one of the papers on different aspects of transport and set out to give a relatively short overview of motorcycle matters in Oxfordshire today. The paper included information on levels of motorcycle usage, highlighted some of the likely benefits and disbenefits of motorcycling, as well as using some information and data to provide context. 

 The overall goal of the Local Transport and Connectivity Plan engagement survey is not to set out firm positions on transport but to welcome the views of residents. 

 I’m aware that MAG has asked for further detail on the data referenced in the paper, particularly that on accidents, and I have asked officers to get back to them on this as soon as possible. I also look forward to receiving the full MAG response to this engagement exercise, which I’m sure will help us develop our Local Transport and Connectivity Plan and its policies, including those related to motorcycling, over the coming year.’

MAG encourages all motorcyclists to take a look at the Oxfordshire County Council document for themselves, draw their own conclusions and then respond.  Colin said: “On their website the Council point out that ‘any inappropriate or offensive language will not be considered acceptable, and your response will not be submitted’ – strangely this is the only consultation with that warning. The document asks ‘what do you think?’  I hope that all bikers will take the time to politely let this Council know that they will not accept this kind of bias”.

MAG stands ready to work with Oxfordshire County Council, to help it develop a transport policy position that makes the most of all transport options. But MAG will vigorously defend motorcycling against all poorly informed bias.

Contact MAG at 01926 844 064 or central-office@mag-uk.org

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