Bikers boycott petrol stations that make them remove helmets

Petrol stations that insist motorcyclists remove helmets before fuelling are facing a boycott by bikers.

Tesco has found itself the latest target for fresh calls to boycott petrol stations that force bikers to remove their helmets before authorising fuel pumps.

A hapless poster, complete with a misspelling of the word motorcyclists, has spread like wildfire across social media, with numerous bikers calling for the supermarket giant to be boycotted.

Despite safety concerns for the motorcyclist and the obvious discrimination involved in singling out motorcylists, many stations in high crime rate areas ask bikers to remove their helmets.

Mixed messages

The poster, which claimed the reason for the requirement was to comply with Tesco’s Think 25 age verification policy and ‘safety’ reasons, required the full removal of the helmet, making no allowance for open face or flip front helmets which reveal the face of the wearer.

It is in line with other signage seen at Texaco, BP and Esso stations. Due to age restrictions, it is a condition of a petrol station’s Petroleum Licence that staff ensure a person is over 16 years of age.

However, none of the signs seen so far has also made the same request of anyone wearing a burka, hoodie, baseball cap or large sunglasses that can make it hard to see a person’s face properly.


Age is not the real reason

Although signs claim removal of a helmet is for safety, petrol station staff make it clear it’s actually about theft of fuel.

One issue, raised in the video below, is that APNR cameras normally only register the front numberplate of a vehicle.

This biker got the helmet treatment, this time from Shell. Although a second rider with him wasn’t asked to remove their helmet.

Targeted as criminals?

As Mike Butler from the We Ride London campaign points out, “The action by many petrol stations including most recently Tesco to refuse to serve riders with helmets on is yet another example of the vilification of riders in the UK that includes assuming all riders have criminal intent.”

Representing bikers in the area of the country most affected by motorcycle related crime, he’s well aware that some stations may have issues with criminals stealing petrol. “Of course, there is an unmanaged epidemic of motorcycle enabled and motivated crime in London in particular, but the vast majority of riders in the UK are ordinary law abiding citizens going about their business who could be your doctor, your fireman, your teacher, your butcher, your baker, your candlestick maker. Why should the actions of the few enforce changes that affect the rest of us?”


Ripley Bishop, from the Motorcycle Crime Prevention Community, said, “I personally prefer to keep my helmet on when around my bike, as violent theft is possible, but MCPC welcomes any measures that reduce crime. A good compromise would be to reinstate pay at the pump which means payment is easy and safe for both.”

Tesco say

When Biker and Biker called Tesco for a response they were aware of the sign and its spread across the biking community. The sign, which was placed at their Stafford store, has been removed as the company claims it was incorrect.

A Tesco spokesperson said, “Like a number of retailers, we ask our customers to remove their motorcycle helmets when shopping. We appreciate some of our customers may find this inconvenient and would like to thank them for their ongoing cooperation.”

Tesco also confirmed they also ask other customers to remove items of clothing that cover the face, including hoods. Exceptions are made for religious reasons.


In the meantime, kick up a fuss
The Motorcycle Action Group currently has no official position on the subject, but MAG’s Campaigns and Policy Adviser, Dr Leon Mannings has seen this sort of problem come and go in the past.
“In MAG’s experience and indeed my own personal experience the most effective way to nip this nonsense in the bud is to boycott the station. Politely explain to whoever is working at the petrol station that this is an unjustifiable policy and that you and other bikers will not buy petrol from there until someone in head office or wherever sees sense and bins the policy.
“This has happened a couple of times in stations I use in London and the policy has always been dropped within a few months.
“If some fuel is essential only take the absolute minimum to get you to another petrol station – and pay by credit card as this adds to their costs.”

Get yourself sorted:

We think asking bikers to remove their helmet is both discriminatory and has serious safety implications. If you wish to challenge a petrol station managing about their policy, read about these reasons here.



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