A LOCAL biker has hit out at Calmac and said they are discriminating against motorbikes.

And Colin Mackie said that an event on the Isle of Bute is under threat due to the restrictions on the numbers of bikes being able to be transported at a time.

Colin, of Kilwinning, is organising a ‘Return to the Island’ event in a throwback to an old event that used to be held on the island but he said he may have to cancel because they can only get 12 bikes on the ferry at a time, despite it being a first come, first served services.

Colin told the Herald: “Every Calmac ferry bar one has restrictions on bikes. It is direct discrimination and a breach of contract. We have invested thousands, the bands are booked and everything is ready to go but this is going to have a knock-on effect. We need Calmac to remove their restrictions on bikes. This never used to be an issue years ago but the ferries were different then. They are not fit for purpose.”

Calmac say the restrictions come from the ability to be able to lash the motorbikes down during transit, something that Colin and his fellow bikers are not against, and they say that with prior notice that the number of bikes can be increased.

A spokesperson said: “Capacity for motorcycles on board our vessels varies from ship to ship, but is determined largely by the ability to lash the vehicles in order to ensure that they are not damaged in transit and nor do they pose a risk of falling over which could inflict damage to other vehicles on the car deck or injure any persons leaving or returning to their vehicles; this is in line with commercial maritime industry best practice.

“The Wemyss Bay to Rothesay service and the capacity, therefore, of the MVs Argyle and Bute which both serve the route under normal circumstances. The usual loading limit for motorbikes on these vessels is 12, but, with notice from any persons seeking to travel in larger groups, can be increased to an estimated 20 to 25, with car numbers and/or commercial vehicles being correspondingly decreased to ensure that the motorcycles can be accommodated and lashed accordingly; the variance in numbers is dictated by length of time required to lash. Turnaround time on the route is very tight and ranges from 10-30 minutes depending on the sailing in question and includes the time required to dock, disembark vehicles, reload vehicles, secure the vessel and depart.”

Colin argued that this isn’t good enough and added: “It does not say anywhere on Calmac’s website about restrictions. We are going to provide income to Bute of around £100,000 over the weekend in August and it is all voluntary, we don’t make a penny from this. I have contacted my local MP and Transport Scotland about this issue.”

He also told the Herald that despite what Calmac say, the bikes do not need to be lashed but they are not against this, providing they can get more people on a ferry at a time.

Calmac said: “The lashing requirement has a two-fold outcome - first it satisfies the safety considerations explored above, but it does also entail additional loading time to complete the lashing. It is, therefore, the timetable turnaround period combined with the manual lashing requirements which is the major driver for capacity - there is no discrimination, simply the ability to load in a manner which corresponds with our safety commitments within a given time frame, allowing us to maintain our timetable obligations, which is what is expected by our customers. We are happy to enter into dialogue with individuals or organisations who wish to discuss specific capacity requirements.”