The MCI has today welcomed the Home Office's summer initiative aimed at raising awareness about the consequences of the illegal use of mini-bikes and associated concerns.
The campaign, launched 2nd August under the RESPECT banner, has made available £200k to be shared by 25 Action Areas for publicity and enforcement to help reduce the amount of illegal mini-bike activity. The two key aims of the campaign are; raising awareness that it is illegal to ride mini-bikes on the road or anywhere other than private property with the owners permission and the penalties for illegal use.
The MCI estimate that up to 300,000 machines could be in circulation. Many imports retail at very low prices and some of the cheapest are sold for less than £100.
The increase in sales has led to a problem with illegal use on areas that are not necessarily paved roads, but are still classified in law as public highways. Such areas include park land, commons, pavements and unpaved rights of way which go across private land.
Problems have been compounded because there has been limited education of both the young riders and their parents regarding mini motos and the law, with this deficiency coupled with the almost complete absence of safe legal riding areas and other local authority provision. In a minority of cases there has also been a blatant disregard for the law.
The MCI recognises that enforcement is one tool that can be used to help resolve the problem. But strongly urges the Government and Local Authorities to recognise that the provision of tracks and facilities is a fundamental part of any effective strategy to address public concerns.
Craig Carey-Clinch MCI's Director of Public Affairs said, " We know that the illicit use of mini motos is causing significant nuisance for individuals and communities across the UK. However, the MCI also believes that legitimate use of mini-bikes can be a positive, worthwhile and highly beneficial activity if properly provided for.
"The industry supports enforcement where it is necessary, but the crux of the problem, as it was with BMX bikes and skateboards 20 years ago, is the lack of places for these bike to be ridden in a safe controlled environment. MCI calls on local authorities to work with organisations like the Auto Cycle Union to create off-road riding areas, as this will help to reduce problems on the streets. Such provision will engage those who are breaking the law partly unwittingly and partly because there is nowhere to ride. Police will also be able to more effectively target resources on those that have no real interest in conforming and will continue to be a nuisance.
"It is also important for parents in particular to recognise that as an unlicensed and unregistered machine, the law expressly forbids people of any age from riding these bikes anywhere other than the owners garden or on private land where the owner's permission has been given and no public rights of way exist."
Dave Luscombe, ACU said, "The European mini moto race scene has been responsible for the majority of World Championship motorcycle racers including 7 time MOTOGP World Champion Valentino Rossi.
"The ACU recognises that the current boom in mini moto use, represents the greatest opportunity to both motorcycle sport and the wider motorcycle industry for the past decade. If we can convert only 10% of illicit riders to legitimate sporting use, we will treble the numbers of sporting youth motorcyclist in the UK. In short, it is an opportunity we really want to seize."