Government wakes up to motorcycling

Update 18th May 2016: Since this post was originally published it appears quite a number of people have taken it seriously, perhaps because they didn’t read it all the way to the end. It was in fact an April fools joke in which we set out a fictitious scenario involving the Government waking up to motorcycling and adopting as policy many of the positions we’ve been advocating for years in an effort to improve the lot of Irish motorcyclists.

However plausible it sounds, there is no such quango as the “Joint Transport Policy Commission” and even if there was we doubt they’d be getting out of bed early to announce positive and affirmative actions to promote and protect Irish motorcycling. We’d like to extend our thanks to everyone who’s been in touch with us about this. The original post is below. Enjoy!

New sustainability guidelines issued by the The Joint Transport Policy Commission in conjunction with The Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and The National Transport Authority are set to deliver a major boost to Irish motorcycling.

At a early morning press conference in Dublin Castle this morning, April Foley, Chairwoman of The Joint Transport Policy Commission said:

For more than a decade now, The Department of Transport Tourism and Sport in conjunction with the National Transport Authority have promoted a policy of promoting public transport, walking and cycling as the only way to travel.

As vulnerable road users, pedestrians and cyclists quite rightly get special treatment to help ensure their safety such as 30kph speed limits, cycle lanes and segregation from vehicular traffic.

So far, so mundane, but we were knocked off our feet by what Ms. Foley said next:

Unfortunately, similar supports have not been extended to another vulnerable road user group, namely motorcyclists. Therefore, we are taking a series of specific steps to address this deficit as follows:

1) With immediate effect, the existing bus lane access for motorcyclists in Dublin will be extended to all with-flow bus lanes nationwide. In addition, motorcyclists will be treated as cyclists for the purposes of using advanced stop lines and bus gates. Motorcyclists have had perfectly legal access to a number of bus lanes for over a decade now without any negative effect whatsoever and this change simply brings us into line with Northern Ireland where bus lane access for motorcycles is increasingly the rule rather than the exception.

2) As vulnerable road users motorcyclists need to take appropriate precautions to ensure their own safety. The 23% luxury VAT rate on compulsory motorcycle helmets is a barrier to lower casualty rates and although we cannot zero rate helmets as in the UK, we can reduce the rate to 9% much as has been done in the hospitality sector. The joint transport policy commission will engage with the Department of Finance to ensure that this is done as soon as possible.

3) Sustainable transport is key to our economy and by treating motorcycles as private cars in transport policy we’ve clearly missed a golden opportunity to boost transport sustainability. From today the motorcycle friendly policies adopted by Waterford will be used as a template nationwide to ensure the state gains the benefits of reduced congestion while helping us meet our obligations under the recent EU white paper on transport.

4) In order to ensure that motorcycling is properly supported we will, in conjunction with the Department of Finance, seek to introduce a range of incentives along similar lines to those used to encourage commuter cycling. These include free motorcycle parking at all mainline rail and DART stations, a subsidy scheme for electric motorcycles, scooters and mopeds in line with those already in place for electric cars and a tax credit for personal protective equipment which complies with the incoming EU standards for motorcycle clothing to include such items as jackets, trousers, back protectors, gloves and boots.

For far too long, motorcycling has been marginalised at enormous cost to motorcyclists themselves as well as society at large. From today, the joint transport policy commission will ensure that motorcycling is part of the solution and not the problem.

There were gasps from the audience when journalists from RTE queried Ms. Foley about the effect of the proposed changes on property prices in Dublin. Ms. Foley stressed that the policy changes would have a positive effect by reducing congestion on key arterial routes.

Electric Moped

An electric moped yesterday

Meanwhile, two journalists from independent media outlets were expelled after they  queried the recent revelations regarding the million Euro bonus payments to members of the Joint Transport Policy Commission as part of the controversial awarding of the M51 Mohill to Belturbet motorway contract.

Questioned as to whether the Joint Transport Policy Commission had overstepped its remit with this morning’s announcements, acting transport minister Paschal Donohue declared that he had the utmost confidence in the leadership of Enda Kenny and that the leadership of the party was simply not on the agenda.

Asked to comment on the announcements made during the press conference this morning, P.R.O. of MAG Ireland, (The Irish Motorcyclist’s Association), Dr. Michael Noonan quipped “there’s no fool like an April fool!” before heading off to work on his motorcycle.