Riders fight plans to charge bikes to park in Hackney
Hackney council have proposed emissions-based charging permits for motorcycles that could see locals paying hundreds of pounds a year to continue riding their bikes.
It’s currently free to park a bike in Hackney, however, if the new proposals go through, you’ll have to pay to park regardless of whether you’re a resident or a visitor.
The regulations are a minefield too – the vast majority of bikes will cost £61 for a permit but some older models could cost as much as £214 per year. Visiting the area works out at £4 a go for a visitor’s pass, while all the free motorcycle bays are to be converted into shared use that will cost £2 to discourage all-day commuting.
"Hackney has a long history of motorcycling," says Andrew Almond of Bolt Motorcycles which sells coffee, motorcycle clothes and runs mechanics workshops in the borough. "Part of that is because Hackney is so poorly connected by public transport.
"I’m also worried it’ll put people off shopping locally. Why ride your bike around the area when you could go to Tesco out of town and park for free?"
MotoDen on Kingsland Road is the only bike dealer left in Hackney and is one of London’s biggest CBT providers.
"This will wreck our business," says owner George Dennison. "We’ve been here 20 years and have two bike parking bays outside that are essential.
"Two-wheelers are the solution but they’re treating it like the problem. I don’t understand why they’re asking the same money as a car, when you can fit five or six bikes into the same sized space."
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If the proposals are approved, it’s feared the Hackney scheme could inspire other councils to follow suit.
"I understand that there’s a lot of pressure to reduce emissions across London but the truth is that electric bikes aren’t right for a lot of people yet," adds Dennison, owner of MotoDen, Hackney’s only remaining bike dealer.
"Plus if the council continue with their plans, we won’t be around in a few years for people to buy them when they are ready. It’s so short sighted. I know it’s just one London borough for now but it will quickly spread across the capital and then other cities will be next."
But bikers in London are planning a coordinated effort to reverse plans to charge bikes to park. Hackney council have opened up a consultation that could see riders paying as much as £214 per year to leave a bike on the street.
Visitors would have to pay £4 a day. The council claim that this is to bring motorcycles in line with cars while also encouraging people to switch to greener forms of transport but locals aren’t convinced.
One local bike riding resident who wished to remain anonymous agrees: "I used to work in government and this just strikes me as a cynical way of raising funds. The ULEZ is soon to expand to include the area and it will cost £15 per day to ride a non-compliant bike, which is sure to get all the badly polluting machines off the road.
"If that’s what the council’s goal is, that will do it for them. If bikes are ULEZ compliant, then why bother charging at all?
"There are important questions that need to be raised such as 'how have they come to the conclusion this is the best way to reduce pollution?' and 'how will they measure the effectiveness of what they’re doing?.'"
Dennison thinks the knock-on economic effects could be huge: "I also have big concerns about who this will affect. We sell a lot of scooters to gig economy workers who live and work in the borough making deliveries on a moped.
"These guys simply won’t be able to afford what the council is charging. Anyone who rides a two-wheeler needs to fight this tax."
If you want to respond to the Hackney consultation, visit tinyurl.com/rud4ylu.