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Parked motorcycles

COVID distancing has helped Stockholm motorcyclists – at least for now

COVID distancing has helped Stockholm motorcyclists – at least for now

City Council has extended the ‘no parking fees’ rule for motorbikes and mopeds

On 25 March, the Stockholm municipal website reported that two weeks before that the Transport Board took the decision to extend free parking for motorcycles and mopeds class 1 until the end of the year. Following that, the city council of the Swedish capital is soon expected to approve this decision within its municipal limits.

This news is naturally welcomed by the Swedish bikers association SMC, which advocates for the interests of two-wheeler enthusiasts and is something that it has been fighting for in the years preceding the coronavirus pandemic.

This rule was first introduced in May 2020

As Einstein had once said “In the midst of every crisis, lies great opportunity” and this adage seems to be the case for Stockholm motorcyclists. After the introduction of parking fees for the two-wheelers in 2015, the SMC had struggled with numerous advocacy efforts and meetings to reduce them or totally eliminate them.

It did manage to have them reduced in 2018 but now the COVID crisis lent an unexpected shoulder to their efforts and since May 2020 parking fees for these vehicles have been suspended, although not permanently eliminated as it appears. The need to avoid crowding in public traffic and socially distance this time has also coincided with the need to reduce congestion.

Truth be told, motorcycle and moped users were already privileged since 2006 when the Swedish capital introduced its anti-congestion strategy, which saw the levying of a fee (called a tax by its opponents) for vehicles entering the central areas of the city. Motorcycles were exempted from this tax.

Motorcycles, due to their size and flexibility, are undoubtedly better designed to reduce traffic congestion on the urban streets. However, their impact on the environment is still a matter of debate and controversy given that per person their carbon footprint might even exceed that of cars.

All of this goes to show that anti-pandemic decisions and strategies about making urban transport more sustainable are complex, multifaceted and can sometimes even coincide.

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