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Governments and employers should promote motorcycling

Politicians want us to walk, cycle, or use public transport. Motorcyclists however have different ideas when it comes to commuting, traveling to work. Better ideas, FEMA’s Wim Taal believes.

FEMA’s survey on the commuting habits of motorcyclists shows that they use several different vehicles and different ways of travel. This way they adapt to their needs and possibilities on any given day. By investing in different types of vehicles – not just motorcycles – they show a great sense of responsibility and of practical insight. Something that, according to FEMA, should be stimulated and rewarded.

For commuters, the year-round motorcycle costs are nearly three times less than operating a car, with gas averaging €545 for riders and €1,435 for drivers.

Motorbikes are also better for the environment, emitting around 99g CO2/km as opposed to the 210g CO2/km released by automobiles. Those riding a sub-250cc bike, which accounts for 62 percent of Europe’s two-wheelers, enjoy an even lower emissions rate at 62g CO2/km.

Source: The economic importance of motorcycles to Europe, Oxford Economics.

Why take a motorcycle to work?
Not only do almost all motorcycle commuters consider riding their bike the most pleasant way to travel, the also praise the travel time, the lower costs, and the convenience of parking a motorcycle. And let’s not forget the hassle of traffic jams, which are easily overcome by motorbike.

Why not?
Motorcyclists are very clear when it comes to reasons to not take their bike to work. Of course, bad weather plays a big part in the decision how to travel to work, and that is understandable and also impossible to fix. What is possible to fix are two of the most mentioned reasons not to choose the motorcycle: the lack of safe parking facilities at the destination and the problem of where to store your motorcycle clothing and helmet. Employers can – for example – easily transform a couple of car parking spaces into motorcycle parking spaces and include the possibility to lock your bike to an anchor or pole. Providing simple but secure lockers for motorcycle gear should not be a problem either. After all, the advantages for the employer are huge, because not only will the employees be at work on time because motorcyclists typically don’t waste time in traffic jams, but motorcycle parking spaces also take up a lot less expensive space in the parking lot.

Road safety
It’s positive to see that the danger of riding a motorcycle in or through traffic jams is not considered to be a great risk and is not often seen as a reason not to travel by bike. Generally, the accident risk during the ride to work is not seen as a reason to choose another vehicle or another way of transport of the motorcycle.

Promote motorcycling!
What we need from local governments and from employers first is the recognition of motorcycles and other powered two-wheelers as a part of the solution for urban traffic problems. By providing safe parking spaces and storage facilities for motorcycle clothing and helmets, up to 30 percent more riders would consider taking their bike to work, thus improving the traffic flow in our cities, and significantly reducing the need for space dedicated to parking cars. There are large economic benefits to be gained by actively promoting and facilitating the use of powered two-wheelers.

From 3 until 18 February 2023 FEMA conducted an online survey on the mobility choices motorcyclists make to commute (travel to work).

  • 1.941 people from 28 countries responded to the survey.
  • 89.18% of the respondents is male, 10.61% is female, 0.21% other.
  • The average age of the respondents is 50.2 years.
  • Respondents that commute on average travel 27.93 kilometres from home to work.
  • 52 Respondents do not commute because they work from home, 17 are retired.
  • Of the respondents that commute, 35.26% walk, cycle, or use public transport.
  • Of the respondents that commute, 93.38% use a powered two-wheeler.
  • Of the respondents that commute on a powered two-wheeler, 73.4% does so on a petrol motorcycle > 125 cc.
  • Of the respondents that commute, 70.99% use a four-wheeled vehicle (car/van/truck).
  • Of the respondents, 12.67% owns a (partially) electric vehicle.
  • Of the respondents that commute, 11.11% does so with a (partially) electric vehicle.

Click here for the full results of the survey (pdf file).

Written by Wim Taal

Top photograph courtesy of Yamaha

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