Steve Mallett, Motorcycle Action Group’s (MAG) south east representative contacted Rye News asking for a meeting at Strand Quay on Sunday last (20 September) at 10am. Steve has already been involved with Rye Town Council and others in a combined effort to improve dialogue between local residents and the biking fraternity to address the situation at Strand Quay which has been the subject of much recent and ongoing debate.
MAG is an organisation with 6,000 volunteers and four full time staff, formed over 40 years ago to represent and protect the interests of motorcyclists remaining faithful to its core principles of freedom of choice and self determination and with the mantra “education not legislation”.
Representing Rye News, I met Steve and his colleague Julian Quinton (MAG deputy SE representative) as agreed and after a masked discussion I decided to stay with them for the morning to witness at first hand what was happening and to be able to report factual evidence for the record.
Julian came armed with a decibel meter, the aim, to record evidence of noise levels and to prove or disprove some of the theories or allegations which had been made. The official guidance on motorcycle decibel levels reads as follows:
A motorcycle may not exceed a noise limit of 86 decibels when measured at a speed of over 45 mph. At a distance of 50 feet, the noise limit is 86 decibels if the maximum lawful speed on the highway or street is greater than 35 mph and 82 decibels if the maximum lawful speed on the highway or street is not more than 35 mph.
Between 9:45am and 10:15am, 76 motorcycles came along Strand Quay, of those 76, only 2 were at 82 decibels, the rest were below, all were in the legal limit. Of the cars that passed in the same period, one hit 89 decibels, another 84, both driven by “boy racers” but that’s an issue for another time.
The same exercise was carried out between 11am and 11:30am when 97 motorbikes were checked for decibel levels and 2 were between 82 and 84, the remainder below.
Whilst this was going on, Steve Mallett was talking to visiting bikers, trying to educate them as to the issues faced by local residents and the need to act responsibly if they are to retain the ability to continue to congregate at Strand Quay. As well as explaining the situation to them, he was also issuing leaflets (see photo) as a reminder that motorcyclists and the local community need to have mutual respect which can only be gained by dialogue and appropriate action to continue the long tradition of meeting in Rye.
It’s obvious when you stand and look at the motorcyclists at Strand Quay, the majority are made up of two distinct groups, the 50 somethings who mainly ride classics and tourers and the ‘weekend warriors’, the younger bikers who are more passionate about speed and the more expensive machines. From what I witnessed, the vast majority were playing by the rules and were just there for the day out, the law breakers were a minority looking for crowd reaction as they revved their bikes unnecessarily and had no regard for speed limits, local residents or the biking fraternity.
Some of our readers may have noticed a professional photographer set up in a lay by on one of the bends on the road running from Rye to Camber, photos are taken of the bikers as they pass, often at speed with their knees to the ground, encouraging bikers to speed to get a better action shot.
Speeding bikers coming to Rye along Military Road, Udimore Road, Rye Hill and the A259 are seemingly met with no opposition so they carry on doing the same, when they arrive at Strand Quay and park up they will spend money on food and drink and perhaps a souvenir small enough to carry on their bikes, but if they wanted to use the facilities at Strand Quay on Sunday they would have been disappointed as they were locked, even the disabled toilet was locked, no access, not even for RADAR key holders and the disabled.
Policing speeding bikers and motorists is down to the authorities but with further communication the issues at Strand Quay can improve. One suggestion was to place police cardboard cut outs (like they have in supermarkets) inside buildings as a form of deterrent, not a bad idea especially as there are many empty windows available in Rye. Any improvement is dependent on action but this largely depends on the continued dialogue between MAG, Rye Town Council, the Environment Agency, local government and the police, not forgetting the locals who will be kept informed and up to speed, by Rye News.
Image Credits: Nick Forman , Motorcycle Action Group .