Scooter Club Madrid banned from polluted city | INTERVIEW
Regular readers of SLUK will know we’ve covered various stories about forthcoming emissions bans threatening our chosen lifestyle. From ULEZ to Crit’Air we’ve covered it all and I’m sure many of our European readers have been happy to kid themselves that it’ll never happen close enough to home to have an impact.
In December 2018 Madrid brought in their hard-hitting ban on all but zero emission vehicles within the confines of the city. It’s a huge anti-pollution zone covering 472 hectares (or 1,166 acres). This ban effectively wiped out all petrol vehicles registered before 2000 and all diesel vehicles registered before 2006. There are no ‘pay as you go’ options and historic vehicles are banned unless you’re prepared to jump through a few hoops and pay around €1000 to get the necessary paperwork.
Our man in Madrid, Doug Turner was out with his friends from Scooter Club Madrid last week for what would be one of their last club meetings in their spiritual home before fines are imposed in March. We posed some questions for club member, Álvaro Eme and club president, Santi.
Álvaro, tell us what’s happening in Madrid to affect how and where you ride?
Basically, due to pollution and the number of cars crossing every day through the city centre (472 hectares) the City Council has decided to ban ALL vehicles with plates registered before 2000 (petrol) and 2006 (diesel). This began on the 30th of November, but fines will not be applicable until mid-March. Not much time to adapt or get a replacement vehicle
Is it a blanket ban, or are there timed exceptions when you can still ride?
It depends on what vehicle you use. The council is sending some stickers classifying vehicles from A to C and E (ECO). For example, B and C (hybrids) could cross the city centre from 7 am to 10 pm if there is no pollution protocol. E vehicles, electric and so can roll at any time. Then, A vehicles can forget about getting inside unless you register them as “historic vehicles”, and that’s another and expensive option. Of course, our Lambrettas would not meet the demands of getting such a sticker. Not even A, as many of them are just too old, 40 or 50 years old…
Doug Turner (DT): I was pillion on the ’79 P200 of Santi this week. This does not qualify, but as there are no fines until March, people are still riding.
Is there an exemption for classic scooters?
The same rules are applicable to all vehicles. As mentioned before, if you want to ride inside the city centre you must register your classic scooter as “historic.” This is expensive, around 800 – 1,000€ to get all the papers and stamps.
DT: for the wealthy Madrileños, with their 100,000€ classic cars, the money is no issue for them, but if you have a small frame Vespa, you are not going to spend 800€ to ride it.
In the UK and in many parts of Europe we’re being threatened by ULEZ/Emissions/CRIT Air etc. how long have you known about it coming to Madrid? Did you ever believe it would happen to your city?
It was well known this was going to happen sooner or later, but you never realize it until it is too late. It’s been a year since the first news about it came out, but this was talked by our politicians since many, many years ago. Apparently, orders from Europe (Brussels).
Did anybody protest against the ban before it came in?
There have been two massive protests gathering 3,000 bikers in Barcelona and 6,000 in Madrid. Organizations and councils are still talking while we are writing this.
How will this affect the Scooter Club Madrid?
It affects us badly. We meet, we ride, and we hang out in the city centre. Our rallies, bars, meeting places, etc. are all based in the centre… Even though most of us live outside the perimeter, we always meet up inside of it. Now we can’t unless we get there by Metro. I am not riding any modern scooter or an electric piece of junk.
(DT) I have been meeting these guys for 12/13 years in their spiritual home, La Parilla del Niño, Plaza Cristino Martos, they are no longer allowed to meet there on scooters.
Do you travel far to rallies and events?
Of course. We are Scooter Club Madrid, we ride all across Spain and Europe.
DT: The club is formed of many Lambretta and Vespa riders and with the size of the scene they are members of Club Lambretta d’España (CLE) and Vespa Club of Spain. They have their own rally in April, which I attended last year and wrote about for SLUK. They will attend rallies in Southern Spain, Guadalajara, CLE Rally in Reinosa, this September and of course the Euros. They need to start hitting the UK more and come and see us, last time for many was Euro Lambretta Lincoln in 2009.
Will the ban have an impact on travel, for instance, if you live inside the city and can’t ride out of it?
If you live inside the perimeter this new law will not affect you. Yet, the ones that live outside, we will just have to find other spots to gather and go for a ride. Take into consideration Madrid is such a big city and this law affects just the very centre of Madrid, a small part of the city. There are still plenty of bars and places to meet. At the moment A and B class vehicles can drive through the centre but they aren’t allowed to park anywhere.
DT: It’s sacrilege that they may have to move from their spiritual home.
Has it meant people will stop riding their scooters altogether?
Never. We will adapt, that’s all. Cheating is another synonym for Spaniard (hahaha).
Has it had an effect on scooter prices?
Not that I’d know. They are still getting more expensive every year.
DT: I think there will be no immediate effect, but more pillaging of their scooters will increase…Santi, I still need a Vespa small frame, please?
How does the ruling make you feel towards the Government?
There has been a mistake made here based on good intentions. I believe motorcycles (any kind) are not the problem. Cars definitely are. We ride short distances and times in the city. Traffic jams do not affect us or are caused by us. We park easily and do not occupy as big an area as cars and vans do. We do not usually hinder pedestrians as cars do. The scooters do not pollute to the level that cars cause. This law should be aimed at cars and encourage people to ride a bike or scoot.
Would an electric classic alternative (like the Retrospective Scooters conversions for instance) be something your club might consider?
HA, ha, ha. Some could, but not for me. To convert a Lambretta into electric is like tearing apart a piece of art. Such a pity.
Are you a scooterist affected by pollution rules?
If you’re from one of the many cities around the world where the use of certain vehicles is legislated against let us know how it has affected your lifestyle.
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