Government pledge £6 million lifeline to motorsport venues in England

The funding will help offset damage caused by Covid-19
The funding will help offset damage caused by Covid-19
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English motorsport venues have been handed a £6 million cash injection from the government to help see them through winter and offset the earnings lost through lack of spectators due to the coronavirus pandemic. 

Part of a larger £300 million scheme announced earlier today, known as the 'Sports Winter Survival Package', owners and operators of major English circuits; including Silverstone, Goodwood and the British Automobile Racing Club will be able to apply for the funding to help see them through to the 2021 season.

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Also entitled to support are MotorSport Vision (MSV), who own Cadwell Park, Donington Park, Snetterton, Brands Hatch, Bedford Autodrome and Oulton Park. Funding for each activity was allocated through a needs-based assessment process, plus submissions made from the individual sports.

"We promised to stand by sports when we had to postpone fans returning. We are doing just that by delivering another £300 million on top of existing business support schemes," Oliver Dowden, Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said. 

"Britain is a sports powerhouse, and this Government will do everything we can to help our precious sports and clubs make it through Covid."

Motorsport in the UK was dealt a massive blow in 2020, with spectators prohibited at larger events, such as all rounds of the British Superbike championship. The Silverstone MotoGP was also cancelled as part of a restructured season in mainland Europe, too. 

Speaking about this year's closed off racing season, Silverstone Managing Director, Stuart Pringle, said: "The cancellation of MotoGP and the fact we were left with no option but to run all other events behind closed doors this season has resulted in an 80% drop in revenue for Silverstone in 2020 so this news is extremely welcome.

"We have not yet seen the full details of the support package so cannot comment on how much of an impact it will have on our immediate future but the news is certainly positive."

Sports Minister, Nigel Huddleston, added: "Over the past few weeks we have worked tirelessly with sport governing bodies and clubs across the country to fully assess what support is needed, as a result of the decision to postpone the return of fans.

"We know the vast majority of sports - many of which operate on tight financial margins - have been making serious cost reductions, such as locking down grounds, taking up the furlough scheme for many staff and halting excess payments."

The largest portion of the available funding went to rugby union, which recieved a sizeable £135 million. Following them was £40 million for horse racing and then £28 million for football. Sitting just below motorsport is tennis at £5 million and then basketball and netball, which both get £4 million each.

The first portion of the money is expected to be delivered in the coming weeks.


Covid-19 and motorbikes: Lockdown riding confusion reigns

First published on 16 November, 2020 by Ben Clarke

There is still confusion on whether you can ride for fun

Confusion still surrounds whether or not you can legally ride recreationally during the current England lockdown.

Several legal firms and riding groups believe that as the law states you are legally entitled ‘to leave your home to visit a public outdoor place for the purposes of open air recreation on your own, with members of your household or with one person outside that group’ that, as the road is an open public space, this means you are okay to ride for pleasure as long as you stay on public land (but you can’t go to a motocross track, for example).

Where things get slightly murkier is with the Government’s advice, which recommends reducing the number of journeys you take. "Riding your motorcycle for pleasure wouldn’t be classed as essential travel or qualify under the exceptions listed," said Chief Constable for Northamptonshire and keen motorcyclist, Nick Adderley. "I don’t think you could argue it’s exercise either. I’m equally frustrated having to leave my bike in the garage."

These conflicting stances are not helped by the Government’s refusal to offer further clarity when asked by MCN – so the debate looks set to continue until the lockdown in England, put in place to protect the NHS, ends on December 2. See the latest legislation at www.legislation.gov.uk


Covid-19 and motorbikes: Travel restrictions return to England and rider training put on hold

First published on 2 November, 2020 by Jordan Gibbons

From November 5, England will be under lockdown conditions

With Boris Johnson confirming a return to nationwide ‘lockdown’ from Thursday, November 5, the government has told people they must not travel unless it’s an essential journey. To that effect, recreational motorcycling is on pause for at least the next four weeks.

Following the announcement, the DVSA has also confirmed that all motorcycle tests and training sessions booked are suspended for the duration of the lockdown. Anyone who has a test booked during the lockdown will be contacted by the DVSA to rearrange.

That doesn’t mean you can’t ride your motorcycle at all – you can still use a bike for essential journeys, such as going for food and medicine or visiting someone in your support bubble, but you can’t head out for a ride with some mates.

The government guidance has also said you may make a short journey for exercise, however at the time of writing they have not said how far you may travel other than saying you should stay within your local area.

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The new lockdown has also had a wider effect on motorcycling at large, with the ACU cancelling all permits for the next four weeks, which includes many enduros, motocross and trials events. Any motorcycle related events, such as bike jumbles, will also be unable to run. Just like the first lockdown in spring the government has asked all non-essential retailers to close, which includes motorcycle dealerships.

However given the huge rise in people taking to two-wheelers to avoid public transport, the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) have petitioned the government to have motorcycle dealers included on the essential retailers list in the same manner as bicycle shops.

Given that this is a rapidly evolving situation things may change but everyone at MCN is doing their best to keep you as up to date and as informed as possible.


 

Wales in lockdown from October 23

First published 10 October 2020 by Jordan Gibbons


From Friday, October 23, 2020, Wales is going into a national lockdown until Monday, November 9, meaning you cannot ride there from England apart from in certain circumstances (like going to work) and you risk a fine if you do.

From October 14, 2020 England has a three-tier local alert system in place. If you are in tier 1, the rule of six as detailed below still applies but there are stricter rules for tiers 2 and 3.

From Monday, September 14, 2020, it is illegal for social gatherings of more than six people. Prior to this up to 30 people could meet at once for a social gathering however this has now been scrapped.

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The six person rule applies inside and outside, with six being the absolute maximum number who can meet regardless of household size. So you can only meet up with five other mates to go for a ride out, even if three of them lived together for instance.

Anyone found breaking the new law will be liable for a £100 fine, with subsequent offences doubling the fine up to a maximum of £3200.


Popular biker cafés prepare to re-open

First published on July 1, 2020 by Jordan Gibbons

The Super Sausage café

The UK’s most popular biker cafés are preparing to re-open following the Government’s relaxation of lockdown restrictions from Saturday, July 4.

Squires in Yorkshire, Loomies in Hampshire, Ryka’s at Box Hill and The Super Sausage near Towcester all told MCN they can’t wait to re-open fully on July 4, but also warned things won’t be quite what they used to be.

"We’ve been getting geared up and have used the opportunity to do the place up," Gail Murray of the Super Sausage said. "We’ve a new kitchen floor, new hand sanitisers and driers – we’re just finishing off now."

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But she added: "We’ll be doing certain things differently, though. People can turn up as normal but we’ve barriers outside so they can queue. There’ll be an ‘in and out’ system as we’ve just one door and we’ve invested in more chairs and tables for seating outside."

Paul Fullick of Loomies told a similar story. "We’re open now trying a takeaway service but we’ll definitely be fully open on the 4th," he said.

Loomies Café

"It’ll be a more open air service rather than trying to fit people in the café. We’ll comply with the regulations, employees wearing gloves, us making the tea and coffee rather than having a communal area, so some things will change but we’re really looking forward to it."

Surrey venue Ryka’s has also reopened already as a takeaway only, but will be fully operational on July 4. "It’s been a long time coming," Grace Sheppard told MCN. "We’ve been slowly preparing, redecorating, cleaning but we’re keen to see all our customers.

"We’ll be wearing facemasks, the inside will be closed off, our aim is to have just one till and it’ll be a ‘one-in, one-out’ process. We’ve enjoyed our time off but we’ve got itchy feet now and can’t wait to get up and running."

Squires Café

While Dave Moore of Squires in Newthorpe said: "My reaction is total relief. We’re a seasonal business and the lockdown couldn’t have happened at a worse time.

"We’ve remodelled the café with a one-way system where you come in, get served and then go outside. There’s screens at the service points, cleaning regimes and we’re even putting the sugar in your tea or coffee for you!

"Things will gradually get back to normal but initially people are going to have to accept things have to done in a whole different way."


IAM advanced motorcycle training resumes in England and Northern Ireland

First published on June 4, 2020 by Gareth Evans

An IAM bike ride

The IAM, or Institute of Advanced Motorists, have resumed advanced motorcycle training in England and Northern Ireland in light of the latest Coronavirus restrictions. 

The charity has also issued advice for its members on the correct procedures to adhere to in order to keep everyone involved safe. Social rides are also re-starting in England and Northern Ireland, but those in Wales and Scotland will have to wait longer, in-line with local Covid-19 advice and measures. 

Richard Gladman, IAM RoadSmart’s Head of Driver and Rider Standards, said: "We are delighted to be able to get those taking the advanced rider course back on the road.

"Our community of passionate and skilled bikers have made personal safety their number one priority by following the rules on social distancing and non-essential travel. They have been great ambassadors for motorcycling IAM RoadSmart and road safety.

You can find details of courses available here.

 


 

Police correct inaccurate coronavirus riding statement

First published 4 June 2020 by Jordan Gibbons

Lisa Winward

The Chief Constable of North Yorkshire Police has issued an apology after one of her officers made an incorrect public statement about the legalities of riding under the current guidance.

On May 16 after the travel restrictions were lifted, Inspector Mark Gee issued comments on the force’s official website saying that: "Many motorcyclists genuinely seem to think they are legally covered to just go for a ride out. Under the current regulations this is simply not the case."

The statement was widely reported by other news outlets, including BBC Radio 2, despite Downing Street confirming that motorcyclists are perfectly entitled to go for a ride, so long as they maintain social distance from anyone outside their household.

After this was brought to the attention of Chief Constable Lisa Winward, she said Gee wasmistaken and apologised.

"During this unprecedented health crisis our Inspector has clearly made a mistake in his interpretation of the legislation and guidance on this occasion which will be rectified," said Winward. "I am sorry for the concern that this has caused."

 Riding in England is ok so long as you obey the rules


Need a new ride? Bike dealers in England will open Monday

First published 27 May 2020 by Jordan Gibbons

Motorcycle shops are opening again

Bike dealerships in England will be able to open their doors to the public from Monday, June 1. The news comes after the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, announced an update to the coronavirus guidance. Speaking at a televised press conference on Monday, May 26, Johnson said that markets and car dealerships will be able to reopen from Monday, June 1, while other non-essential shops will be able to reopen from Monday, June 15.

After speaking to the government, the Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) has confirmed to MCN that this includes motorcycle dealerships are included with car dealerships. 

As part of the new guidance, the government has produced a list of recommended things to consider when reopening shops to keep both staff and customers safe. This includes small things such as leaving doors open, so people do not need to touch the handles, to larger scale suggestions that include rearranging the shop for more space and implementing a one way system.

We will update this page with more information as we receive it. You can read the guidance in full here: Coronavirus Guidance for Businesses


Riding restrictions lift in England on Wednesday says No. 10 - so long as you maintain social distancing

First published on May 12, 2020 by Jordan Gibbons

Riding a motorbike on the road

The government has today removed restrictions in England that prevented all motorcycle journeys unless you were a key worker, or the journey was considered essential. In a speech on Sunday night, the Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, said that you can "drive to other destinations" – however, it was unclear exactly what that meant.

Having spoken directly with a spokesperson at No.10, MCN can confirm this means you are allowed to ride a motorcycle "to any open spaces" with no limit on the distance from today, Wednesday, May 13. 

However, they reiterated that this should ideally be done only with members of your immediate household or with one other, provided you maintain social distancing. The advice also stated that once you arrive, you should maintain a minimum of two meters distance from other members of the public.

You'll also have to abide by the rules for travelling between countries within the UK, as you'll still be unable to cross from England into Scotland, Ireland or Wales, or vice versa.

The "Stay at home" message remains in place in all countries other than England. You're also not allowed to travel somewhere and stay the night, with a spokesperson saying: "although you might want to take the bike out to the Lake District, for example, you wouldn’t be able to stay there overnight".

No.10 also confirmed that should the relaxation cause a spike in coronavirus transmission that threatens to overwhelm the NHS, then the rules will tighten back up once again.

It was also stated that should the rate of infections remain low, the government will look to reopen shops and cafes in June and July, meaning that bike dealerships and popular hang outs will be able to reopen so long as they can keep staff and shoppers safe.

So what does this mean for bikers?

In short, you can ride – but you should still exercise common sense. Just like every normal Spring, most of us have had a long time off the bike and our skills probably aren’t what they were six months ago. 

At MCN we’ll be taking a considered approach, avoiding long or fast-paced rides for the foreseeable future and sticking to gentle jaunts into the countryside for changes of scenery and somewhere to grab a breath of fresh air. That might mean a great ride to the coast or the hills before chucking some trainers on to get your daily exercise, for example. 

The temptation to simply return to normal riding is overwhelming, but do we really want biking to be vilified yet again, as it was when some were slow to comply with the start of lockdown? 

Motorcycling is often perceived negatively by the public at large – but right now, stories of couriers and volunteers delivering medical supplies and community support has placed motorcycling firmly in the public’s good books. A sunny weekend of wailing redline torture, open pipes and unnecessary road accidents will quickly undo all that. But most of all, we want everyone to stay safe so that when everything really is back to normal, we’re all still here to enjoy it.

We will update this page when the advice changes again.

Riding a motorbike after lockdown in the UK

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Dan Sutherland

By Dan Sutherland

Senior Writer (motorcycling), sportsbike nut, currently riding a FireBlade