As much as there is an almost complete unity in encouraging the switch to biking by policymakers and other stakeholders, the issue of nuisance biking is one menace causing so much worry.
In the last several months the police in different parts of Britain have been locked in a continuous battle with this category of bikers. Nuisance biking is basically the riding of motorbikes, particularly off-road bikes like mopeds, quads or mini motos in unauthorised places and provoking both health and security concerns.
Nuisance bikers, residents usually complain, disturb the peace and increasingly expose themselves and others to the risk of accidents. Sometimes they are also found to be carrying a passenger on an off-road bike meant for one.
But the biggest issue is that they ride in places meant for public use, such as parks or pavements, where innocent pedestrians could be crashed into. In addition to the fact that such motorbikes should be ridden only on a private property with the permission of the property owner, when young people riding this type of motorbike get on the road they hardly have any of the required documents to allow them on the road . Bike insurance is neglected, just as license is not taken seriously despite the fact that failure to have them could get the biker into trouble with the law.
In several places across the country the police were called to move in to check the menace of nuisance bikers last year. In some places gangs of young riders were apprehended and had their bikes confiscated. In some extreme cases such bike riders were charged and had to appear in court for a number of offences.
Shortly before Christmas the police cautioned parents against buying off-road bikes as presents for their children. The air was also cleared over the issue of purchasing insurance cover for mini bikes. While many assumed erroneously that they didn't need an insurance policy, they were reminded that bike insurance was a requirement as long as the vehicle was motor-propelled and would be used on public roads. To sink the message as deeply as possible retailers were also urged to remind customers to get the cover and other required documentation for bikes.
Based on the extent this campaign has gone to, one would think that by now most people would have been sufficiently enlightened about the use of mini or off-road bikes in order to avoid a confrontation with the law. But the situation is still far from this.
Almost every time a young bike rider is caught at the wrong place on a mini bike possibly doing the wrong thing, they are also found to be in possession of none of the required documents. This, therefore, suggests that the battle is far from won and more needs to be done.
In Coventry, which is one of the worst hit places, there is a renewed effort to tackle the problem. Unlike previous campaigns, barriers are being raised to prevent youths riding bikes or quads from accessing restricted areas like pathways and roads.
The step taken by the council in this regard will no doubt reduce the seriousness of the problem, although it does not solve it. It is, however, worthy of emulation in other areas.
Irrespective of the above, a long-term solution is required to deal with the issue. Parents or guardians, as advised by the police, need to continuously caution their children or wards. They also need to ensure they purchase the right cover for bikes or extend their home insurance to cover the bikes.