May 19 2004. The Motor Cycle Industry Association has hit out at increasingly sensation-led comment and campaigning on motorcycle safety. Campaigning by the North Yorkshire local pressure group BAND using the names of celebrities to highlight problems on certain Yorkshire rural roads, has been seized upon to generate an entirely wrong picture of national motorcycle safety.

Wild claims about 180 mph motorcycling, distorted casualty figures, danger to other road users from racing bikers and 'blood on the roads' has become the latest fashionable way of presenting motorcycling as dangerous and unacceptable.

Stories and campaigns have been fuelled by an increase in casualties, particularly in rural areas, in recent years. However instead of 28,000 riders being killed or seriously injured (KSI), in 2002 (as has been claimed in various articles), the real KSI number was 7,500, with 609 riders killed. Nearly half of these tragic deaths occurred in urban areas at low speeds - often due to riders coming into collision with cars which had pulled into the path of the rider.

Recent increases in the number of casualties to a great extent reflect the massive increase in motorcycling in recent years. If the number of casualties are compared against the amount of new motorcycling that is going on (the casualty rate), the chances of having a crash are the lowest for 10 years. More recently, the motorcycle casualty rate has fallen by 12% over the Government's 1994-98 baseline casualty figures.

The true picture of rural speeds is also very different to what the public is being led to believe. Claims about rural residents being terrorised by 180mph motorcycling are quite simply wrong. It is basically impossible to obtain such speeds on the kinds of bendy rural roads which have become popular among motorcyclists. Riders who claim to have achieved these kinds of speeds on these roads are simply boasting and riders who try are risking almost certain death or serious injury. Accidents which do occur mainly happen at lower speeds on bends and junctions where the absolute power and top speed of a motorcycle is not a factor. Instead basic machine control is emerging as the biggest factor in casualties.

Campaigns such as BAND have been organised out of a real concern for rural motorcycle safety. Unfortunately, the BAND agenda has been seized upon as a means to reignite the kind of prejudicial attitudes towards motorcycling which existed in the 1960s and 70s.

Effective casualty reduction strategies rely on a combination of local and national partnerships, coupled with effective rider education, such as that offered by the national police-led 'Bikesafe' scheme. MCI, recognising that real safety concerns exist, is working with Bikesafe and Government to implement a new agenda for rider safety and has called upon organisations such as BAND to work with industry and users in order to find long term solutions to local problems.

Craig Carey Clinch, MCI Director of Public Affairs said: 'Sensationalism and anti-motorcycle campaigning is doing nothing but painting all motorcyclists as hooligans, when we are in reality only facing problems from a comparative few irresponsible idiots who's antics will be ultimately be controlled by police enforcement if education fails.

'We don't need new laws; neither do we need biker demonisation by the media. This type of negativity - or 'Bikeism' -- will only lead to a continuation of the current problems, with the benefits of motorcycling for both leisure and commuting continuing to be under developed.

This may not be a nice sexy or sensational story, but it's what's really going on out there. The MCI invites the media to write the really challenging story - putting the record straight.'