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BMF concerned over petrol station discrimination

The British Motorcyclists Federation is concerned by discrimination against motorcyclists at petrol stations that is potentially putting their safety at risk during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Petrol stations asking motorcyclists to remove their helmets or withholding service until they do so is a recurring issue and one that many bikers have personally experienced. This request is often made for dubious and poorly defined reasons, and it is particularly significant amid the current pandemic. Because wearing a second mask under a helmet is uncomfortable, impractical or even impossible, many bikers use their helmets as their sole face-covering while travelling.

We were recently contacted by BMF member Paul Myler, who highlighted his experience at the MFG Ketley petrol station in Telford. A long-standing biker who is both a qualified chief instructor and the Chairman of Bug Splatz RC, Paul, 55, filled up his new Triumph Tiger Alpine for the first time on Sunday 21 March 2021. He did so while wearing his helmet because it was also serving as a face mask. When he went inside the pay for the fuel, he was asked to remove the helmet by a member of staff and so potentially place himself at risk of both COVID-19 from being unmasked and of breaking the law by being unmasked in a public indoor place. On informing the member of staff of this, he was allowed to pay while wearing the helmet.

Paul wrote to the BMF to draw attention to this incident and the serious questions it raises. Other people wearing masks or face-coverings are not apparently being asked to remove those too, so this policy only appears to apply to bikers. He said: “I find it so hypocritical… Surely it’s illegal to remove a helmet acting as a COVID mask?”

The BMF has repeatedly drawn attention to this kind of treatment towards bikers at petrol stations and the current pandemic makes doing so again more important than it ever has been before. While a number of owners and chains have policies about helmets in petrol stations, they are often chaotically applied, legally questionable and – now it is essential to prevent the spread of COVID-19 too – could potentially do much more harm than good.

Commenting, BMF Chairman Jim Freeman said: “Many thanks to Paul for bringing this to the BMF’s attention. Bikers having problems at petrol stations is as old as the BMF itself and the excuses vary from time to time, but this one takes the biscuit – in effect, being asked to break the law when using one of the most effective face shields ever made, a crash helmet. Just remember to keep your visor down! We’d really like to discover whether this is just an isolated incident or whether it’s a common problem because, if it is, we’d like to draw attention to it.”