Weekend of protest gains widespread support

A weekend of protests by Irish bikers saw thousands take to the streets and vividly demonstrated the depth of feeling in the biking community. Many participants voiced their anger towards the RSA over it’s proposals to foist mandatory high visibility clothing on riders, and also their frustration with the EU which continues to chip away at our rights and freedoms in the name of harmonisation.

Saturday’s demonstrations saw hundreds of bikers turn out in Dublin, Limerick & Donegal. The slow moving convoys of bikes was timed for maximum impact on the general public as Saturday mornings are about the busiest time for shoppers in towns. Most of the bystanders appeared to be supportive of the riders, with many asking the riders why they were out and voicing their support when informed of the reasons. Saturday’s Dublin protest ride stopped outside the GPO on O’Connell St., while the line of bikes stretched back to O’Connell bridge. Riders dismounted, and mingled with the shoppers and tourists alike answering questions, posing for photographs, and lending their support to the Special Olympics charity donut sale run by the Gardai. The riders then formed up and completed the protest route before finishing up at the plaza in front of City Hall.

Sunday’s demonstrations saw even greater numbers take to the streets in defence of their rights and freedoms with thousands of bikes participating despite some heavy rain on the day. Demonstrations took place across the country, and again the public were largely supportive. Dublin saw perhaps the largest turnout with Kildare St. being entirely filled with bikes. The protesters did themselves proud with many voicing their frustrations directly to the media who were there on the day.

Meda fails biking

Unfortunately, the media response in general was weak despite MAG’s press release having gone out to almost 200 news desks across radio, TV & newspapers last week. In some instances, the response has been typical of the latent hostility the media have for bikers in general, for example Paul Melia’s piece in the Irish Independent [click here] is titled “Bikers out in force against new safety rules” which makes it look like bikers are anti-safety when we’re just being pro-bike. Paul misses the fact that mandatory high visibility clothing is just blaming bikers for the fact car drivers don’t look properly. Indeed many of the comments on the article show just how much latent hostility we as bikers have to overcome before people even begin to look at the issues.

Elsewhere, newspapers reported that the EU proposes to ban bikes over 7 years old from city centers when in fact this was a domestic French proposal initiated by the Green Party in France, and not something the EU is proposing at all. Meanwhile, RTE apparently persuaded one biker to do a burnout on camera, and then used this footage in it’s six-one news report on Sunday, a real let down to the thousands of bikers who behaved superbly on the day.

Now what?

MAG Ireland congratulates all those who took part and did so much to convey a positive image of bikers. We now urge  all bikers to write to Noel Brett in the RSA at;

Road Safety Authority
Moy Valley Business Park
Primrose Hill
Co. Mayo.

Tell him what you think of mandatory high visibility clothing. Tell him why bikes should be in bus lanes. Tell him 21% VAT on helmets is not acceptable. Then write to your MEP [click here] and tell them what you think about Type Approval regulations.

Getting out on a demo was just the first step. The next step involves you following it up with the people who have the power to stop it happening. Over to you.