Who Rides London? (survey & report)

Organisation: Right To Ride
Date uploaded: 19th June 2018
Date published/launched: June 2018

An online survey was carried out between March and May 2018 (six weeks), focusing on motorcyclists who typically ride PTWs (motorcycles, scooters or mopeds) to work within the proposed ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone) areas of London.

There are two defined ULEZ areas: the first comes into operation in April 2019 and is confined within the Congestion Charging zone; and the second which comes into operation in October 2021 and covers Greater London up to the North Circular and South Circular roads.

The survey was a study to identify specific issues relating to PTWs which fall within the Euro 3 emission standards (PTWs manufactured from 2007 onwards) or pre Euro 3 emission standards (PTWs manufactured prior to 2007) which would thus incur a charge of £12.50 (excluding historic PTWs which were manufactured prior to 1973).

There were 420 responses to the survey, 245 of whom worked within the Congestion Charge zone and 109 who worked in the Greater London area. 36 riders worked outside London but indicated that they frequently travelled into London.

Of the riders who work in the Congestion Charge zone, 43% (105) said they have pre-Euro 3 PTWs, while 53% have Euro 3 standard PTWs. 109 riders work in the Greater London area – i.e. outside the Congestion Charge zone, but within the proposed ULEZ to be introduced in 2021, 43 of whom (39%) owned pre Euro 3 PTWs and 62 (57%) owned Euro 3 standard PTWs.

Although low wages were cited by some riders who own pre-Euro 3 PTWs and work in the inner London Congestion charge zone, it is not the more predominant reason of the riders who replied to the survey for using this standard of PTW (nor the Euro 3 standard PTWs) to travel to work.

The factors indicated in the comments made by the riders relate to time and travel cost. In other words, PTWs enable the rider to cut travel time considerably – from 2 to 3 hours using public transport to half an hour, and at least half the time of using a car or van.
Furthermore, the cost of travelling by PTW is considerably less than using a car or public transport.

Another reasons cited was the unreliability and/or unavailability of public transport.

Theft – a major problem
This is a major problem in London with over 14,000 thefts identified London in 2017 (11% of PTWs registered in the London area). An analysis of Motorcycle Theft in London, indicates that the main reason motorcycles are stolen is for spare parts.

By examining the information from the survey, the majority of PTWs used by the respondents are Naked (standard) motorcycles or Adventure types. As these bikes (especially the newer models) are targeted by criminals for spare parts, the solutions to prevent the theft of these vehicles include better parking facilities “but also using old battered up bikes for commuting to deter the discerning thief”.

The report’s author, Dr Elaine Hardy, said: “Riders have every reason to be concerned and have a strong case to present to exempt the ULEZ charges for older PTWs.

“It is a paradox that the Mayor’s Office is looking for solutions to prevent the high levels of theft by denying access to London through the high daily charges for riders who choose to ride pre Euro 3 bikes in consideration of the fact that these older PTWs are less attractive to thieves.

“Whether the answer is exemption from the charge altogether or a proportionate charge in consideration of the fact that the overall usage of Pre Euro 3 PTWs is less in comparison to Euro 3 standard PTWs.”

The fundamental argument, as demonstrated from other studies in Europe, is that PTWs use far less travel time and are far less likely to be held up in traffic jams. Thus in real terms, the pre Euro 3 PTWs would pollute less in comparison with four wheeled vehicles that are compliant with the later 4 and 5 Euro standards, especially diesel fuelled vehicles, simply because they are not standing idle for the lengths of time that cars, vans, lorries and buses are.

The report concludes: “It would not be beyond the realms of the authorities of London to look again and consider that a solution can be found with what should be a reasonable and realistic compromise.

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