CALLS ARE mounting for motor vehicle-free days in a National Park amid claims record numbers of motorcyclists have descended on it as lockdown restrictions have been eased, ruining the protected area’s tranquillity.
While noise from motorcycles, and in particular from large groups or ones with modified exhausts, has been an issue in the Yorkshire Dales for decades, residents, cyclists and walkers said the wave of riders in recent weeks following months of peace had come as a shock.
A meeting of the Yorkshire Dales National Park’s Local Access Forum heard communities were being plagued by powerful bikes with illegal exhausts and several calls for action, including exploring car-free days.
Last month, a YouGov poll commissioned by climate charity Possible found 54 per cent of the British public supported the closure of town and city centres to non-essential vehicles once a week in order to open up space for pedestrians and cyclists.
Members were told while other National Parks were beginning to trial car-free days, officers did not believe the immediate period after the lockdown was the right time to launch the system in the Yorkshire Dales.
Swaledale Outdoor Club member Barbara Gravenor said: “As a cyclist and a walker it would be wonderful if we could have a once a month one Sunday closed roads system like some continental countries do in the summer.”
Referring to residents who lived in a popular motorcycling circuit between Devil’s Bridge and Hawes, Nick Cotton, who has served as the park authority’s recreation management champion, said: “It has been a massive increase, I think even bigger numbers than there were before the pandemic.”
While North Yorkshire Police has staged motorcycle noise and speeding crackdowns in the Dales for decades, the Government has recently trialled new cameras to measure the sound levels of passing vehicles.
The devices are used alongside automated number plate recognition technology after evidence showed that noise pollution has serious health impacts.
A spokesman for the Motorcycle Industry Association said that the illegal exhausts fitted by some riders “attract unwanted attention to the motorcycle community and do nothing to promote the many benefits motorcycles can offer”.
Source: Yorkshire Post