I hope you’re all keeping safe and getting back to a little bit of normality.
Unfortunately we’ve been having to play catch up after the government announced billions of pounds to promote walking and cycling upon the lifting of lockdown restrictions. In the cities around the region, we’ve watched the projects that we’ve been working on for years, put on the back burner as councils rush to put in “pop up” cycle lanes and pedestrianisation schemes (there’s an eight week limit on spending the budget!)
Despite these frustrations, we have had a couple of successes.
I had an email from The head of highways in Bradford City Council last week. They’ve identified a space in each Bradford Council owned car park for secure motorcycle parking and gave us a choice of different anchor points. After a bit of discussion we’ve gone for a raised bar to shackle bikes to. These will be put in all council owned car parks. He’s having a meeting with the councillor with portfolio for transport in Bradford to discuss bikes in bus lanes and said he’ll be in touch soon – so it’s plodding on.
I also emailed Leeds city council for an update on secure parking and the bus lane trial. Again I didn’t receive a response. So I rang the head Transport engineer last week. The secure parking is moving ahead. 50 secure parking barriers have been delivered this week. They are earmarked for parks, towns and suburbs around the city. The city centre parking is moving a bit slower as some of them are bespoke and some need extra lighting. He’s asked us to be patient as everything isn’t back up to speed yet and they’re snowed under with the cycling and walking schemes.
The long running bikes in bus lanes is having a “trial TRO” put in place for 12 months to assess its impact on Kirkstall Road. This is expected to be in place and up and running in this financial year as the councillor with portfolio for transport has signed it all off now.
On chatting with the head of highway engineering a few alarm bells started to ring. He said that the Kirkstall Road bus lane (which is the road chosen for the trial) was unique and unlike any other in Leeds. Apparently it’s 4.2. Meters wide where all the others are 3.8. Regulations from the WYCA state that motorcycles should be given 1.8m passing space. He thinks the rest of the bus lanes may not be wide enough to accommodate us. He also stated that due to the lockdown and traffic flow not being normal right now, the base line statistics will be skewed so he’s not sure how that will impact on the assessment of the trial – they look to be getting their excuses prepared already.
One thing MAG has been doing both nationally and locally is pointing out to those the decision makers that motorcycles are a fantastic way of social distancing and should be encouraged and promoted as a valid form of transport in these difficult times.
In East Yorkshire, Rep Garry Williams is coming up against similar problems to me in Leeds –
As mentioned in the last newsletter, Hull City Council are working at pace to introduce additional cycle and bus lane infrastructure into the city centre. Prior to covid, the council had already outlined a proposed medium to long term plan to improve cycling routes across the city to try and get more people commuting by cycle for the environmental and health benefits this would bring.
In common with other cities, the ongoing pandemic has championed cycling and Hull city council have been able to tap into grant funding of £1.4m allowing them to progress some stages of their original plan as part of an initial £2.5m investment. As the grant funding is time limited, the work must be completed in a short time frame and is to be consulted on retrospectively.
The first stage of work is complete, with Freetown Way, a key arterial route on one side of the city reduced from a duel carriageway to a single lane in each direction with half the other lane being a segregated cycle lane. The segregation takes the form of spaced rubberised posts, which appear forgiving to vulnerable road users like ourselves, and will hopefully be resilient enough not to be spread across the road and cause a hazard if struck by larger vehicles. The remaining super wide traffic lane allows for easy filtering on a motorcycle.
The next stage of works is to reduce two other major routes down from two lanes to form one traffic lane and one combined bus/cycle lane in each direction. Motorcycles are allowed to access all the existing bus lanes in Hull which are now live all day, rather than a couple of hours each day under the new scheme. The expectation is we will also be able to access the new ones once they are operational, but I am still awaiting confirmation from the council on this.
Time will tell, but overall, as long as access to bus lanes is maintained, motorcycling into, and across Hull city centre should benefit from being both safer and easier as a result of the scheme.
A further consequence of the works is the blocking off or closing of some inner city roads to prevent congested traffic using these as a rat run. In doing so, we have lost a sizeable secure bike bay in the centre of town, and the council have damaged the security posts when removing them so they cannot be sited elsewhere.
However, I have previously mentioned the city centre bays where MAG funded security rails were removed but never replaced during the City of Culture city realm works back in 2016/17. Lots of promises to install security over the past couple of years, but nothing has appeared despite repeated pressure. Out of the blue during lockdown, I received an email during from the council to say they had sourced a supplier, so you never know…..
Stuart Hatfield in South Yorkshire has emailed Dan Jarvis, MP for Barnsley, to discuss various motorcycle issues but has yet to receive a reply from him.
Linz Foody at Huddersfield MAG has raised with a local Councillor, Cahal Burke, an inappropriate image used in a poster encouraging local residents to report anti-social use of quads and motorbikes in the area; the poster used on his FaceBook page contained a photo of a classic racer on a historic Triumph Bonneville in full leathers, so nothing like illegal or anti-social use. An image which is wholly inconsistent with the issue. On being challenged on this by a number of MAG members, the image was ‘edited’ in the most unprofessional, and frankly childish way and remains available https://www.facebook.com/CahalBurke/posts/3150793748368227
It is beyond disappointing that this is the reaction of an elected representative to a serious and polite request and shows great disdain for the point being made. The Councillor has been invited to come to a meeting once they can resume, which he has accepted so hopefully there can be a constructive conversation. On the plus side, following Linz’s request for him to amend the original image on Twitter, this at least has now been replaced with a much more appropriate one: https://twitter.com/CahalBurke/status/1297602806430470145/photo/1, ie the one being used the Council and the Police, which is a result.
The MAG NC had a virtual meeting where national issues and campaigns were discussed.
The overwhelming issue, nationally, seems to be very similar to the problems we have in Yorkshire where local authorities have been given carte blanche to roll out cycling and walking schemes, with little planning and retrospective consultation which leaves motorcycling high and dry as the councils are too busy spending these budgets to look at anything else due to the strict timeframe involved in spending the money.
In Europe there has been discussions in certain countries about banning motorcycles from certain routes (this has been happening at weekends on certain routes in Germany for some time). It seems that high level discussions have taken place with the idea of introducing speed limits for motorcycles that would be set at lower levels than existing ones, and also the consideration of banning motorcycles from selected road routes. MAG is keeping a watchful eye on developments.
MAG are also working on a position statement to cover the debate surrounding loud exhausts after the BMF denounced all noisy pipes.
It’s been noticed that The Road magazine has been getting swamped with “green” articles (since Mutchie has morphed into Swampy – if you’re old enough to remember him). There has been a long discussion and though the board of MAG realise that green issues are important and motorcycling can help both emissions and congestion, we are a motorcycle organisation and as such should concentrate solely on motorcycle issues.
One thing that has emerged from the pandemic is that all Clean Air Zones (CAZ) have been cancelled or postponed indefinitely. This is due to the air becoming cleaner due to less vehicle usage.
Councils around the country were eagerly rubbing their hands together at the thought of being able to ban or charge vehicles to enter CAZ’s and a lot of businesses and individuals had invested heavily in electric vehicles.
Leeds was due to have a CAZ by the end of this summer with York, Doncaster and Sheffield following close behind.
MAG’s position has always been to oppose any measures that restrict road space for motorcycles and seeing this measure dropped (for now) has potentially saved us a lot of campaigning.
Here is the link to the current “Network” which will keep you informed with MAG happenings around the country. https://wiki.mag-uk.org/images/thumb/8/82/Network_2020-08.pdf/page1-636px-Network_2020-08.pdf.jpg
As I mentioned earlier, rallies and events around the country have been hit by the Covid 19 outbreak. People have been contacting me to ask for updates to the rally situation. This morning I’ve spoken with Pete Walker (Yorkshire MAG events organiser) to find out where we stand with the rally situation. This is the official statement from Magic Action Promotions regarding the Yorkshire MAG rallies –
The Yorkshire Pudding rally will take place next weekend 28th to 30th August. The hoops that have been jumped through by the organisers have been absolutely ridiculous. To be frank, I’m amazed that Pete Walker has managed to pull it off as he’s been blocked at every turn by the authorities not wanting the event to go ahead.
The success of the event (and ultimately whether the Farmyard Party will be allowed to proceed) is going to be down to the people attending next week.
Please can everyone adhere to the rules on site, listen to any marshals instructions (and don’t forget that we’re all bikers and MAG members and are volunteering our own time with little reward to ensure the event happens) and above all, enjoy yourselves in a safe way.
We are expecting unannounced visits from the authorities over the weekend to check that were adhering to the restrictions so it’s massively important that we all work together to show that we can make this work.
DON’T FORGET TO BRING A CAMPING CHAIR (or go buy one from Johnsons on arrival) AS NO CHAIRS WILL BE PROVIDED ON SITE.
ALSO ONCE ON SITE, YOU’LL NOT BE ALLOWED TO LEAVE AND THEN RETURN, SO MAKE SURE YOU’VE GOT EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO ENJOY A GREAT WEEKEND BEFORE YOU RIDE THROUGH THE GATES.
The Farmyard Party has already been moved to 25th-27th September and we’re aiming to make sure it’s a party to remember.
Both of the Yorkshire MAG rallies are reliant on the lifting of government restrictions and there not being a reoccurrence of the pandemic.
Finally if you want to get more involved at a local level (and to really get the most out of your MAG membership, I strongly recommend that you do) here are the meeting details of the five Yorkshire MAG groups – though we are looking to expand with more groups so if you haven’t got one close by and fancy getting together with like minded bikers, get in touch with me at firstname.lastname@example.org
We’re very lucky in having some very strong groups in Yorkshire, but we need the members to join in, so pop along to your local meeting and help to make a difference
We’re still wanting to restart Scarborough MAG and York MAG or get a completely new group going in North Yorkshire. If anyone is willing to become a rep (it’s great fun and very rewarding) or even host a meeting, just to get a likeminded group of folk keeping in touch and pushing the MAG message, please give me a call (07867918722) or message me via email, text, Facebook etc. North Yorkshire is a big area and it’s a real shame we don’t have a North Yorkshire group or two, especially considering it’s a biking Nirvana.
If you’ve not already joined the North Yorkshire MAG Facebook group, please consider doing so. We’re looking at planning some meetings at The Sun Inn at Norwood after the lockdown and also doing some ride outs to cafes in North Yorkshire. We’ll be getting info out about these things on Facebook as the new North Yorkshire MAG website isn’t up and running yet.
It’d be great to get some stuff going on in the biggest county in Yorkshire so come along and join in with the things we’re planning.
If you have any ideas for events and fundraisers or if you like to see your local group do something different, get in touch with either me or your local rep. MAG is member led and without your input and participation it will stagnate.
Due to the current situation I’ve not put any events in this newsletter. Hopefully normal service will resume very soon.
Local meetings have tentatively started around the county. All meetings are adhering to social distancing requirements.
East Yorkshire MAG meetings restarted two weeks ago with a good turnout. It was decided that due to the proximity of the Yorkshire Pudding rally the next meeting would be on Thursday 10th September.
Huddersfield MAG started back up a few weeks back but we’re stopped by the new lockdown for Kirklees. Keep an eye on the Huddersfield MAG Facebook page for updates.
Leeds and Bradford MAG meetings started three weeks ago. They are taking place in the upstairs room to allow social distancing and they’ve been well attended and enjoyed by all.
South Yorkshire MAG meetings have been running for over a month now. The Market has got all the social distancing and hand sanitising precautions in place so no one should be at risk. Support from local clubs has been good but local MAG members have been in short supply. If you’re local to Stuart, I know he’d appreciate your support at meetings.
Wakefield MAG have also restarted their meetings but after many years the Grey Horse has succumbed to the virus and has closed so the new home of Wakefield MAG is The Thatched House, 434 Aberford Road, Stanley, Wakefield, WF3 4AA every Tuesday at 8:30pm. Steve and company would love you to come along.
East Yorkshire MAG meet on the 2nd and 4th Thursdays from 8pm at The Forresters Arms HU17 0PR
Huddersfield MAG meet every Wednesday from 8.30pm at The Fieldhead HD3 4FB
Leeds and Bradford MAG meet every 1st Tuesday and 3rd Thursday from 8pm at The Royal Hotel LS28 8PR
South Yorkshire MAG meet every Thursday at The Market, 2 Wentworth Rd, Elsecar, Barnsley S74 8EP from 7pm
Wakefield MAG meet every Tuesday from 8.30 at The Thatched House, 434 Aberford Road, Stanley, Wakefield, WF3 4AA
Finally both myself and Andy Foody have made the decision to step down as Yorkshire MAG Rep and Yorkshire MAG vice Rep at the next AGM in September (date to be confirmed). We’ve had a great three years of doing the job but now seems a good time to step down with the changing political landscape bringing lots of fresh challenges. It’s vitally important that Yorkshire MAG has a presence on the National Committee as we are the biggest donators of funds due to the three Yorkshire rallies. If you’ve ever had an urge to get involved, now is your chance.
Hope to see you at an event or meeting very soon.
Manny (Yorkshire MAG rep)