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UK’s Best Cities for Biking Revealed

Ever wondered which was the best city in the UK for motorcycling? According to a study by the AA, it’s Plymouth. The AA looked at a number of parameters: number of bikes per 10,000 people, the average price of petrol, number of filling stations per square mile, the number of rainy days each month and the number of MOT stations per 10,000 people.

Plymouth topped the list thanks to boasting nearly 300 (actually 296) motorcycles per 10,000 people, charging an average £1.54/litre for fuel, having 0.83 filling stations per square mile, an average 12 days of rain a month and 13 MOT stations per 10,000 people.

Derby was runner-up, with fewer bikes (181 per 10,000) but a greater concentration of MOT stations, while Swansea in third place was likewise bumped up the ratings by having a lot of
filling stations. By contrast, London languished in sixth place – although two-wheelers are a common sight in the capital, the actual figure per 10,000 people is only 151, just over half the Plymouth figure.

And the worst three cities to ride? Bristol, Birmingham and Reading, according to the AA. Reading has just 84.9 bikes per 10,000 people, charges an average £1.63/litre and has just 4 MOT test centres per 10,000 – London has 73. But we can’t help thinking that these figures paint an incomplete picture – the number of motorcycle parking bays and bike dealers also make a big difference to urban riding, not to mention the use of bus lanes.

Jim Freeman, Chair of the BMF, said: “Interesting study, but not exactly focused on the average rider’s priorities, I’d venture. Parking is far more important than the number of bikes per 10,000, in fact, if parking is a real problem, the fewer bikes per 10,000 the better? The number of MOT centres is connected to the number of motorcycle dealers and workshops, but is it important to the average rider? If you only ride new machinery, why would you care about MOT centres? Fuel pricing reflects the local economy, it’s not really a ‘motorcycle’ issue.”

Peter Laidlaw, BMF director of member services said: “Most important to bikes in cities is access by commuters who choose a bike as transport and those on a low wage. Secure parking that is free and in suitable locations could be the most important part of a welcome to bikes in cities and the BMF have had good success by negotiating many of these facilities in Manchester city centre which are kept maintained and active by the City Council. Thanks must go to the former NW Chairman Fred Tolley for his hard work on this and to Manchester for their commitment. I vote for Manchester to top the list [although I may have some local bias].”

Written by Peter Henshaw

Top image authors own.