Mayor accused of scaring London bikers

Published: 21 January 2003

The British Motorcyclists Federation has accused London Mayor Ken Livingstone’s safety team of scaring people away from using motorbikes to beat congestion charging.

The BMF are concerned by shock tactics used in a current cinema advertising campaign funded by Transport for London (TfL). The campaign, costing a reputed £1.2 million, uses live actors within the audience to dramatise the report of a crash involving a motorcycle and then shows a short film of a car/motorcycle collision. It does nothing positive to educate drivers or riders, say the BMF, it simply records the incident and dramatises it.

The BMF are also critical of the casualty figures used to justify the cinema campaign. Figures quoting a 111% increase in PTW deaths since 1995 (25 to 52) are totally misleading, say the BMF, as they completely ignore the fact that usage has increased massively over that same period. Registration figures for London show that moped registrations alone increasing by over one thousand percent (1007%) from a1995 level of 668 to a level of 7,397 in 2000.

'We are deeply concerned that personalities within TfL's road safety division are using the introduction of congestion charging to pursue an anti motorcycling agenda" said the BMF's Assistant Government Relations Executive, Richard Olliffe.

"The cinema campaign purports to be aimed at reducing junction crashes yet seems to be saying that it is up to motorcyclists and scooter riders to avoid such crashes. By TfL's own admission, in the majority of junction crashes, the motorcyclist or scooter rider is the innocent victim of incompetent car driving therefore the campaign should be aimed at the motorist, not the motorcyclist" he said.

Summing up, Richard said: "The BMF believes that road safety practitioners should deliver road safety regimes that protect vulnerable road user groups like motorcyclists and scooters riders. This campaign begs the question; is the TfL road safety division capable of delivering safer roads for London's growing number of motorcycle and scooter users? If this exercise is anything to go by, I don't think so!"

The BMF have been encouraged by what was seen as an enlightened view by TfL of the contribution PTWs can make in reducing congestion, (with the wider use of bus lanes by PTWs being a case in point), but now suspect exemptions were agreed more for practical administrative reasons than anything else.

Read Kevin Ash’s opinion on the new ad campaign in Motor Cycle News, out January 29.

Do you think this new advert will scare away new bikers? Or do you think it will make car drivers safer in the capital? Post your comments on the News board by following the link on the right.