In just 2020 alone, motorcycle sales reached approximately 780,000 units sold, and between 2002 to 2018, ownership numbers doubled to over eight million. But measures to restrict or ban these vehicles on public roads have reportedly been introduced in increasing numbers. Why?
So far, restrictions on these bikes have been mostly concentrated in Europe and seem to be a response to legislation and regulations there related to energy and the environment. Some proposed bans would prohibit the use of motorcycles on certain days as well. How does the situation in the U.S. compare?
At home and abroad legislators are eyeing motorcycle bans
German legislators have proposed measures to ban using a motorcycle on Sundays and public holidays. Back home, New York City implemented a ban on riding dirt bikes and ATVs. There have been deaths on these vehicles from popping wheelies and involving NYPD officers; one driver was struck while on their dirt bike and an ATV driver was shot after being chased by officers. The city’s Twitter account shared footage of dirt bikes and ATVs being crushed under a bulldozer.
Social media is also laden with videos from pedestrians showing dirt bike drivers narrowly missing people on the sidewalks. When asked if there could be designated space for dirt bike riders, former NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said there was not enough room.
What is pushing these proposed motorcycle bans?
Back abroad, the U.K. eyed banning motorcycles that use internal combustion engines, as part of a larger plan to minimize carbon emissions by 2035. Paris has proposed a similar measure. In the cases of France and Germany, noise pollution was cited as another driving motivation.
The European Green Deal has the goal of reducing greenhouse gases across the continent by 55% in time for 2030. This is also seen as a way to push for having more electric vehicles on the road, though those come with needs of their own. But even electric bikes are not allowed in some areas; for example, they are banned along San Clemente’s beach pathways in California. However, bikers have the American Motorcycle Association advocating for bikes, and their relative fuel efficiency may make them compliant with environment-oriented legislation.