A press release from TfL issued on 21st May urges riders and drivers to watch out for each other. The release also acknowledges the fact that TfL is working closely with MAG.
The press release states:
TfL wants to highlight the vulnerability of powered two-wheel vehicle users, as demand for them has surged throughout the pandemic
TfL and the police are encouraging road users to watch out for each other in a new advertising campaign during Global Road Safety Week, following a worrying number of young men being tragically killed or seriously injured in motorcycle collisions.
As PTW drivers are statistically the most vulnerable drivers on London’s streets, TfL is asking all road users to watch out for each other to eliminate people being killed or seriously injured in collisions involving these vehicles.
A series of motorcycle safety videos and a radio advertisement have been produced as part of the safety campaign, featuring road safety advocate Ogmios, who is known for his dash-cam voiceovers on YouTube.
The release also acknowledges the increase in motorcycling in the capital:
Over the course of the pandemic the number of home deliveries has soared, which has led in part to the number of PTW vehicles on London’s streets increasing dramatically.
Data from the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) shows that registrations for low powered scooters in London have increased by almost a third (31%) between 2019 and 2020.
MAG’s work with TfL
The release carries a quote from Lembit Öpik, the MAG’s Director of Communications and Public Affairs:
‘MAG fully supports this important work on safety for motorcycle riders and their training initiative, namely the Safer Drive Stay Alive course.
‘Given the casualty statistics, it’s timely and hugely relevant. In an imperfect world, everyone makes mistakes, and teaching rather than preaching is a wise way to cut casualties by promoting behaviours that reduce collisions.
‘The Motorcycle Action Group works with TfL as we reach out to delivery and other riders to nurture mindful motorcycling and observant car driving.’
TfL’s full press release can be found here, but we are sharing below an article that ran in issue 94 of The ROAD, MAG’s members’ magazine. The article gives a behind the scenes look at how MAG works for all riders.
Progress at the Palestra
MAG and Transport for London have had a strained relationship in recent years. But things seem to be changing. Lembit Öpik, MAG’s Director of Communications and Public Affairs, considers the implications of a meeting between TfL and MAG and suggests that things may have taken a rather positive turn.
For years, MAG has been at loggerheads with Transport for London (TfL). Our issues have ranged from concerns about the apparent disregard for motorcycle safety through to what bikers think is an insane pollution charge – the Ultra Low Emissions Zone (ULEZ) tax – on older motorbikes, even though many of these actually reduce the overall emissions footprint of the city. Last year Keith Prince, a MAG-friendly Member of the Greater London Authority, brokered a meeting to see if any common ground could be found between bikers and transport policy makers in the capital. I’m now in a position to tell you we have found that common ground.
Cathy Phillpotts is a leading figure in Greater London MAG. On 19th March 2021, she led our delegation, which included me and Colin Brown, to our latest meeting with the TfL team. The central theme was safety, and the meeting was held digitally, due to the on-going lockdown regulations.
Everyone was on-point, rational and positive
It was an expansive group, with no fewer than 21 participants. This could have reduced it to a vague talking shop, but it wasn’t. I have to say everyone was on-point, rational and positive. TfL revealed they had a dashboard of safety data that meant we could understand what’s really going on across London’s roads. Crucially, everyone agreed that motorcycles are currently enduring a major safety problem in London, with bikers experiencing the largest injury rates as a user group.
Our discussions were specific and highly practical. We considered four locations of particular interest to riders: Hyde Park Corner; the junction between Liverpool Road and Holloway Road; Farringdon Road; and Old Street. In the time scale we were looking at, this last one had been the scene for over 40 accidents involving bikers, some of these serious.
Our expert ‘on the ground’ was Cathy. She has an extensive personal experience of these very roads and junctions she’d ridden professionally, and there’s no substitute for that on terms of authentic appreciation of the issues involved. I believe Cathy’s views will influence decisions made at these traffic black spots.
Longer-term relationship between MAG and TfL
There was also talk about the longer-term relationship between MAG and TfL, with a commitment to extend our relationship into more regular meetings. Everyone could see our interaction this time was outcomes-orientated and that it was truly adding value to the ability of officers in doing their job, plus MAG’s ability to feed directly into the people who make the calls about the usability of London’s roads for riders and others.
I’m personally encouraged that we’ll do a lot more to get our views heard thanks to what feels like a substantial warming of relations between us and the officers. There was no sense of ‘victory’ or ‘defeat’ as there has been in the past. Rather, there was the makings of a team. It’s much easier to do business this way. With Cathy from London MAG leading our delegation, it means the capital’s MAG team is really at the centre of this, as it should be.
Authentic consultation, and even collaboration
The next meeting will be in June 2021, with smaller meetings on specific subject areas being held between now and then. This indicates a normalisation of the relationship, so that the confrontation has been replaced by authentic consultation, and even collaboration. We’ll make a lot more progress a lot faster with this mindset.
Looking ahead, it was agreed MAG will also help with feedback on possible trials of e-scooters, which have caused a lot of controversy in other parts of the country. They are, after all, ‘powered two wheelers’ and therefore come under MAG’s ambit. This serves to show the extent to which there’s a blurring of lines between traditional motorcycles and powered bicycles, reminiscent of the days of the mopeds of the 1970s.
MAG did well at the meeting – and so did TfL. At a challenging time on so many levels, it was a real tonic to attend a meeting where consensus, rather than conflict, won the day.
Make sure you receive your regular copy of The ROAD magazine by joining MAG at www.mag-uk.org