Motorcycle Action Group has won exemption for motorcycles of all ages from Birmingham City Council’s Clean Air Zone (CAZ) – after arguing that motorcycles act as net reducers of congestion and pollution in the wider transport system. 

Birmingham’s CAZ policy was approved by the council earlier this month – and once endorsed by government, the proposal can be implemented with the launch of the zone scheduled for January 2020.


Birmingham is the first authority outside London to propose the “Class D” clean air zone model that allows for charging of all vehicles including private transport.  The Motorcycle Action Group says it had consistently argued that motorcycles act within the transport system as net reducers of congestion and pollution, pointing to studies that demonstrate that a simple 10% modal shift from single-occupancy cars to motorcycles and scooters will yield a 40% reduction in congestion for all road users and result in a 7.5% reduction in CO2, a 5.5% reduction in NO2 and a 20% reduction in particulate matter.

MAG director of campaigns and political engagement Colin Brown said: “We are delighted that our campaign has resulted in the proposal to exempt all motorcycles from charges in the zone.  This is a decision that will impact riders not just in Birmingham, but throughout the country. Birmingham City Council has recognised and accepted our position that motorcycles are net reducers of harmful emissions and thus should be exempt from charges.  I have found Birmingham City Council to be informed, serious about its emissions policy development and capable of understanding the science. Credit to the council for taking such a mature view. This decision sets the precedent for all future CAZ proposals in other parts of the country, demonstrating a clear endorsement of the fact that motorcycles contribute to improving air quality.”

Lembit Opik, MAG director of communications and public affairs, said: “This excellent result in the West Midlands now has significant implications for the legitimacy of the poor decisions being made in the Capital.  We will be continuing our efforts to persuade [London mayor] Sadiq Khan to reverse the illogical and counterproductive charging of pre-Euro 3 motorcycles in his Ultra Low Emission Zone (ULEZ) due to come into effect in April 2019.”

Ross Mowbray

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