It is always great to see unhinged enthusiasts for the nanny state being confronted by someone in charge of the facts. The Association of Chief Police Officers told the Transport Select Committee:
"Production machines are readily available for use on our roads with top speeds in excess of 200mph. Motorcycles are seen in the UK to be, in the majority of instances, vehicles of choice rather than necessity and one might consider if our congested roads are any longer fit for purpose for these motorised toys."
The point they're making is unclear, are ACPO against motorcycles in general or just particularly high powered bikes. They propose both bans on particularly high powered motorcycles and bans on all motorcycles within certain areas. Reporters at Motorcycle News have made a number of points:
1. The magazine challenged ACPO to name the motorcycle that can top 200mph. They couldn't. They insisted that the assertion was based on "operational research" but it turns out all the police chiefs had done was google "Hayabusa top speed". As the magazine put it:
"MCN used the same technique to establish whether the King of Rock'n'Roll is truly dead by searching for 'Elvis alive or dead'. We can exclusively reveal that, based on police 'operational knowledge', he is alive."
2. The man responsible for the campaign against motorcycles, Meredydd Hughes, has been convicted three times for speeding, once for doing 90mph in a 60 zone. He also once created a special legal team to try and scare motorists off challenging speeding fine convictions, Motorcycle News revealed that the team was a private company that Hughes himself was a director of.
3. ACPO were simply wrong to assert that motorcycles are associated with Vehicle Excise Duty evasion. They have retracted that statement.
This is yet more evidence that we need local democratic control of the police. Chief Police Officers are as capable as anyone of pursuing the wrong policies based on ignorance and prejudice. Almost all of the additional risks associated with motorcycles are borne by the rider, a choice they are – and should remain – free to make. Ordinary people need to be able to insist that the police focus on their priorities – fighting crime – rather than trying to inconvenience motorists or wasting their time in endless other ways (giving out flip flops to drunk girls, for example).
We need to put the British people back in control of their public services. Whether by giving them the power to take their business elsewhere, if they don't get the standards they deserve from schools and hospitals for example, or through the ballot box where that isn't possible.