Over 150 motorcyclists from across the UK blocked the Humber Bridge in a "slow pay" protest at the £1.10 motorcycle toll on Saturday 25th September.
Organised by the East Yorkshire Motorcycle Action Group, the protest formed part of a national programme to win preferential treatment for motorcyclists in recognition of their "green credentials." MAG would like to see motorcycles exempted from all road, bridge and tunnel tolls and from any congestion charging schemes. Motorcycles are currently exempt from congestion charges in London and Durham.
MAG point to the fact that motorcycles burn less fuel and take up less road and parking space thus liberating room for essential commercial or emergency vehicles and reducing pollution.
Within ten minutes of the motorcycles arriving at the toll booths the congestion behind them extended beyond view as bikers slowly climbed off of machines to remove gloves and helmets and pay with high denomination notes. One police officer claimed the traffic
tailback to Hull was over four miles.
Some members of the general public, who became irate, calmed down when an explanation was provided. Many quickly recognised that the riders had a point and agreed that the pollution in Hull and East Yorkshire could be reduced by encouraging a transfer from single
occupancy cars in rush hour to motorcycles.
The bikes cleared out of the way temporarily to let through several special cases. A vehicle carrying horses was rushed through plus one car load of people trying to make a flight and another full of wedding guests in a hurry. Every effort was made to be reasonable
and explain the motive behind the totally legal stunt.
East Yorkshire MAG have written to the Bridge Board pointing out that during the rush hour 90% of cars using the Humber Bridge are occupied by one person. Neither the local environment nor the world can tolerate this kind of extravagance for ever.
In the wake of this letter the campaign escalated with the help of the motorcycle media, and went national, with the Bridge Board receiving over 1000 letters from riders and eco lobbyists around the country.
In contrast to the Bridge Board, Hull City have adopted a forward thinking approach to the pollution problem by admitting motorcycles to bus lanes.
This progressive attitude provides incentives to motorists to take up two wheeled transport, thus accelerating traffic flow through reducing congestion which in turn is good for business efficiency.
MAG Spokesman Pete Walker said: "The bridge demonstration was resorted to in exasperation as the Bridge Board have consistently refused to meet MAG and discuss the toll issue. Instead they have simply sent out standard format letters claiming that the huge
debt incurred by building the bridge has tied their hands."