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NMC calls for new Ministers to Act on Significant Backlog of Motorcycling Issues

Ministers face a full agenda of biking issues after Government reshuffle. Riders need certainty in several key areas

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s reshuffle of both cabinet and departmental ministers has seen several changes in the Government, not least the Department for Transport (DfT) where two ministers directly involved in motorcycling matters, Richard Holden and Jesse Norman, have moved on. DEFRA has a new Secretary of State, Steve Barclay. Trudy Harrison has also departed from her ministerial post in the Department.

As this is likely to be the last major change in ministers before the General Election, new ministers are entering office with a large backlog of issues that affect motorcycling. The NMC is calling for the Government to finally bring certainty and make progress on a range of topics affecting UK motorcycling. Government announcements are long overdue on a range of consultations, which closed in some cases two years ago.

One of the most important issues where Government clarity is absent, is on the next steps, if there are to be any, on motorcycle decarbonisation. The DfT consultation on motorcycle decarbonisation closed last year and since then the NMC has maintained close dialogue with officials on several areas and partnered industry on parliamentary activities and ministerial engagement. The Prime Minister’s recent announcement, delaying the date for the ending of the sale of new non zero emission cars, casts serious doubts on whether the DfT’s proposed timetable for motorcycle decarbonisation makes sense. The Council’s position is clear; the motorcycling world needs certainty and a clear indication of the approach the Government intends to take. We urge new ministers to confirm that the approach proposed in the 2022 consultation will now be re-thought. The Chair of the All Party Parliamentary Motorcycle Group, Ian Paisley MP, recently wrote to the Prime Minister urging clarity on motorcycle decarb and a reply is urgently awaited.

The DfT also needs to commence the much-needed review and changes to the current training and testing regime for those seeking a motorcycle licence. The establishment of the DVSA Motorcycle Strategic Focus Group early this year was a welcome and positive step, but Ministers must give this group the mandate it needs to make meaningful change to the licensing regime, so that the opportunity that the group represents is not wasted. Matters are not helped by the recent diversion of key DVSA officials to work on clearing the car test backlog. The effective closing of DVSA policy development business until April next year does not send out a positive message about the Government’s commitment to motorcycle safety and the NMC urges new ministers to take a direct interest in pushing forward much needed changes to testing and training.

The NMC, Transport for London and MCIA recently joined forces with several public sector and road safety organisations to call for the implementation of positive changes to Compulsory Basic Training (CBT) which were announced by the Government several years ago and supported by the motorcycling world. But these have yet to be implemented. The NMC is seeking confirmation that planned meetings with DfT ministers on this important issue and other areas of motorcycle training and testing will go ahead with the new Roads Minister, in order to deliver the modern, forwardthinking licensing regime that the UK so badly needs.

New DfT ministers also need to finally resolve the logjam which is stopping the announcement of a new road safety framework. This was postponed before the 2022 summer recess and there have since been calls from several organisations for this to be published. The NMC is keen to see progress on motorcycle safety and in particular seeks better support for, and investment into, motorcycling in a new framework. Long term governmental hiatus in this area is both alarming and compromises efforts to reduce road casualty numbers.

The recently announced ‘Plan for Drivers’ contained a commitment to change advice to local authorities to encourage motorcycle access to bus lanes, with an announcement that the DfT will consult on making motorcycle access the default position for bus lanes. This has been strongly welcomed by NMC members and the Council urges new ministers to fulfil these pledges as soon as possible.

The Council was disappointed that measures to regulate private eScooter construction and use did not feature in the King’s Speech, with the issue pushed down the road for a new government to deal with after the General Election and the current eScooter hire trials extended for a further period. Indeed, the King’s Speech was disappointing for motorcycling, with several opportunities lost to reshape transport and rural policy so that it properly recognises motorcycling as part of the wider transport and leisure mix. The one major Bill related to transport is the Automated Vehicle Bill, where it will be vital that motorcycling interests are involved in how the Bill is developed, so that new technology works for motorcycle safety and not against it.

In other areas, the DfT has yet to announce its intentions on vehicle tampering after a consultation closed nearly two years ago. There is still no news about any changes to MoT testing after a consultation on this closed several months ago. Plus, there are other statutory areas relating to motorcycle sport which also need attention. Activity within the department to understand and engage motorcycling as part of the wider future of transport strategy also needs to make further progress – particularly as motorcycling is an important personal transport choice for hundreds of thousands, as cost of living pressures continue.

Over at DEFRA, new Ministers will need to break a logjam which has emerged over developing policies which will secure fair treatment of those who ride on green roads. Ministers will need to ensure that the current DEFRA working group makes progress in this area. Additionally, we have yet to see the Government’s proposals in relation to the 2022 Landscapes review consultation. Publication of these was said to be ‘imminent’, but all has gone quiet.

NMC Executive Director Craig Carey-Clinch said “New ministers have new opportunities to make progress in government business which has made small progress in some cases, but has largely stalled in other very important areas. With an election looming we call on the Government to progress several policy issues so that motorcyclists can benefit from a much more positive approach to policy. The ongoing delays are sustaining huge uncertainty right across motorcycling and makes future planning very difficult. Many issues interlink and illustrate the pressing need for a more strategic approach to motorcycling in transport and other policies.”

Paul Morgan, BMF’s Government Relations Executive advised “we have been working closely with NMC to progress these issues and are pressing now for an early meeting with the new Roads Minister to progress discussions on motorcyclists training and testing.”

For further comment from the NMC please contact Craig Carey-Clinch,

More information about the National Motorcyclists Council and its members can be found on on the NMC website