Campaign History

‘Riders Are Voters’ marks a natural evolution in election campaigning to put motorcycling on the political map over two decades.

In previous election campaigns, the main representative groups of motorcyclists and motorcycle businesses have generally run parallel campaigns. Often the objectives have been very similar, but the method and style of campaigning somewhat different.

Of these, MAG’s Bikers Are Voters campaigns from 1997-2005 emerged as the most comprehensive and effective mass-lobby by riders. Many of main objectives of Bikers Are Voters 1997 were met and the 1997 general election resulted in a step-change in government thinking, with the promise to ‘put motorcycling at the heart of transport policy’. One of the outcomes was the development of the worlds’ first Government Motorcycling Strategy, designed to ‘mainstream’ motorcycling ie; to make it as natural to consider and plan for the needs of riders as other groups. However, progress overall has slowed and there are still far too many instances where motorcycle and scooter users have been ignored by government at national and local level.

To truly put biking on the political map requires all the main campaign groups to work together, this is the first great achievement of RAV2010. But to really make a difference, RAV aims to inform and mobilise all of the UK’s one million plus riders to help build a powerful and effective lobby willing to challenge the next Parliament to break down the barriers to biking.

The best way to do this is to participate in the RAV2010 campaign and to join one or more of the participating organisations.

To read more about the evolution of Riders Are Voters 2010 from the ‘Bikers Are Voters’ campaigns of 1997 – 2005 and ‘Operation Twistgrip’, the 1992 general Election campaign that changed the way that politicians addressed the concerns of motorcyclists, see below…

Riders Are Voters builds on the experience of previous campaigns. The core of RAV2010 is the grassroots mass-campaigning by riders that has been developed by the Motorcycle Action Group, starting with Operation Twistgrip, the 1992 general Election campaign that changed the way that politicians addressed the concerns of motorcyclists.

In 1996-1997 MAG followed this successful campaign with the launch of “Bikers Are Voters” and campaigned for policy change at Government level by targeting individual election candidates and seeking their views on biking issues.

The political parties were shown that bikers had opinions which deserved to be listened to, had grievances which needed to be addressed and had votes which they were prepared to use.

With the general election on the horizon there was no guarantee that motorcyclists would get the fair deal that they deserved under the new legislature, in fact many policy statements made no mention of motorcycling’s role in transport policy.

In order to redress the balance there was the need to ensure that before the election, every candidate knew about MAG, knew about motorcycling, realised that we had real voting power and expected the new Parliament to positively include motorcycling in future transport policy.

We had the ideal opportunity to influence the motorcycling views to our future Parliamentarians.

Bikers Are Voters was the campaign that reinforced the biking message during this election campaign.

MAG asked every UK motorcyclist to put questions to candidates and that we wanted answers.

The questionnaire was sent to MPs and prospective parliamentary candidates as they became known.

It was in the interests of the individual candidates that they gave firm specific commitments to those of us whose support they sought.

MAG was then able to analyse the answers to lobby the newly elected MPs on motorcycling issues.

The result was that the three main UK parties published mainly pro-motorcycling policies and the new Government took motorcyclists’ views into account when it published its subsequent Integrated Transport White Paper on the Future of Transport, ‘‘A New Deal for Transport: Better For Everyone’’, recognising that mopeds and motorcycles could provide an alternative means of transport for many trips and that they offered an affordable alternative to the car.

However, the government concluded that these advantages were dependent on a number of factors and that the role of motorcycling in an integrated transport policy raised some important and complex issues, including safety and environmental impact.

Recognising that it required advice, the government listen to riders and in 1999 established the Advisory Group on Motorcycling (AGM). The final report to Government was published in August 2004 and the recommendations assisted the Government to publish a National Motorcycle Strategy in February 2005.

The strategy has provided an essential basis for initiating motorcycle-aware policy making by setting out a programme of action. Including better training to take skills to a higher level, improving rider and driver attitudes and behaviour, improved motorbike design, better designed and maintained road infrastructure and smarter traffic management process.

Consequently, motorcycling has had a higher profile in Government policy than ever before and motorcyclists’ views are considered at the very highest levels of Government.

This has not been megaphone diplomacy but steady work in partnership to set out a clear programme of action for the future of motorcycle policies in the UK. However, there are times when direct action and well targeted opposition is need to draw attention to specific issues. The demo runs and protests that have shaped MAG over thirty years have been useful tools leading MAG to the engagement we now have with authorities and politicians.

MAG exists primarily to protect the rights of motorcyclists to enjoy riding without undue interference in the form of excessive legal requirements, particularly where those requirements interfere with the fun and exhilaration of riding motorcycles. The best starting place to achieve this is at the ballot box.

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