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Let’s have more cars and less bikes in London

July 20, 2010

When Transport for London (TfL) introduced congestion charging in February 2003, the aim was to reduce congestion by limiting the number of cars in circulation in the British capital and encouraging Londoners to either commute by public transport or switch from four to two wheels. The number of bicycles, motorbikes and scooters soared over the years as a result, all of which being exempt from the congestion charge, precisely because they do not cause congestion.

Westminster City Council, being run independently from TfL, saw a fantastic opportunity to bring in more revenue by charging the increasing number of motorcyclists for parking, with the use of the latest pay by mobile phone technology. Until August 2008, the council didn’t have the technology to charge Powered Two Wheelers (PTWs) for parking, but when they decided to introduce the Verrus (now PayPoint) pay by phone technology for cars, of course the council felt that, since cars had to pay for parking, then bikes should do too. What Westminster City Council obviously failed to recognise is that TfL brought in the congestion charge to specifically encourage Londoners to get rid of their cars and use PTWs or bicycles instead, not to actually give the opportunity to councils to charge two wheelers for parking and yet discourage their use as non-congestant and less pollutant vehicles. Some will argue that Westminster City Council artificially created the demand for more motorcycle parking by not creating any new spaces since the introduction of the congestion charge and while the number of PTWs in London where increasing year on year. So, inevitably, after a few years during which the need for car parking spaces considerably reduced and the need for motorcycle parking bays considerably increased, there was a severe shortage of motorcycle parking spaces in Westminster and, to control demand, the council decided to stealth tax motorcyclists to park, as opposed to scrapping unutilised car parking spaces for the benefit of motorcycles. Paris, for instance, decided to scrap 2,500 car parking spaces to enable more motorcycles to park in the city, while keeping all parking spots free of charge, but Westminster decided to go against TfL policy, and other European cities, and treat PTW riders like cash cows.

Last week, the No To Bike Parking Tax (NTBPT) campaign heard the verdict of its claim against Westminster City Council that the motorcycle parking charge was introduced in a pure attempt to raise revenue and had no traffic management benefits. While reading the judgement made by High Court Lord Justice Pitchford with great interest, our attention was particularly drawn to the following quotes:-

“The judgment which objections have failed to undermine is that the volume of traffic using the roads in the City of Westminster requires management by the selective introduction of charging for on-street parking contemporaneously with the provision of free off-street parking.”

This is actually quite interesting because those who make the effort and choice to use congestion cutting vehicles to improve the environment, while taking a minuscule amount of kerb space when parked compared with other types of vehicles, are actually being treated like everyone else, so what is the point of going green? We might as well get rid of our bikes, revert to cars, pollute the environment and create more congestion, as we are not being encouraged to use PTWs to reduce congestion and pollution. And the point is even made stronger in the following quote:-

“While there were traffic management and environmental arguments for and against treating motorcycles as a special case it does not seem to me reasonably arguable that the Authority acted outside its statutory powers by resolving that all road users should pay their fair share for on-street provision of spaces.”

Do the terms “all road users” mean that cyclists should also pay for parking? After all, bicycle riders are also road users, so why are they not being charged for parking like everyone else using the roads? Now that the High Court has made it clear that all road users should pay for their fair share for on-street provision of spaces, be careful pushies, you may see yourselves having to pay for parking in the very near future.

We were amused to hear that when the NTBPT campaign announced its firm intention to take the council to Court, the bike charging scheme suddenly became a loss making one of £430,000 per annum, after having ranked in millions of pounds of revenue in the previous months against hardly any costs.

Those who believe that the NTBPT campaigners have lost against Westminster City Council are seriously mistaken. They may have lost a battle but not the war. We are told that the bikers’ protests bringing central London to a complete standstill are due to intensify very shortly. Expect severe disruption in the borough of Westminster in the coming weeks and until the bike parking tax is scrapped. It may be legal to introduce a motorbike parking charge, but it is also legal to protest against it when members of the public don’t agree with it. Westminster may well become a no-go area very shortly, with a new form of protest being introduced, so if you’re not a protestor and intend to come into central London, you have been warned.

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Download the full court judgement here

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Please join and support the campaign to stop Westminster Council from stealth taxing motorcyclists to park before their scheme spreads all over the UK and the rest of Europe. For further details, visit http://www.notobikeparkingtax.com/

Rejoignez le groupe de manifestants contre le stationnement payant des motocyclistes a Westminster avant que cela ne se propage dans le reste du Royaume-Uni et l’Union Europeenne. Pour plus d’informations, consultez http://www.notobikeparkingtax.com/

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If you have a story you would like to see published on UK France bikers.com, please contact us here.

Si vous avez une experience a partager et que vous souhaiteriez voir publiee sur UK France bikers.com, n’hesitez pas a nous contacter en cliquant ici.

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One Comment
  1. Colin permalink

    Thanks for this post. Reading the judge’s comment;

    [i]”.. it does not seem to me reasonably arguable that the Authority acted outside its statutory powers by resolving that all road users should pay their fair share for on-street provision of spaces.” [/i]

    it has occurred to me that paying the fair share does NOT apply to the fines imposed on PTWs for non-payment. Was the judge even aware that the fines are the same for cars and bikes ?

    It seems to me that as riders are paying more than their “fair share” (by paying the same amount in fines) that the Authority DID act outside their powers.

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