5th March 2007
There are many misunderstandings about the vintage vehicle movement, and some concerns about the negative effect of printing magazines. At RealClassic, we're doing our bit to help...
If you're concerned about being green, reducing your carbon footprint, saving the planet (or simply being sensible about avoiding unnecessary waste), then you're already helping by reading RealClassic.co.uk. Twenty years ago, before this internet thing came along, all the information held on this site would have been produced on paper and physically moved around the country.
Now there's no need - you can log on with minimal energy use and read your favourite old bike magazine online. Unlike every other classic bike magazine site, we don't just duplicate stories between the printed magazine and the ezine. The two run in parallel, so you have unique, new stories to read online throughout the month. Effectively you can have two helpings of RealClassic every month; one in printed form, and one online. (And if you are a regular reader of this website, then it would be kind to send a donation to the RealClassic.co.uk kitty. It will help us to develop the website and continue to entertain and inform).
RealClassic is different in another way, too. Unlike most motorcycling magazines, we have chosen not to sell RealClassic through newsagents. Instead, you can subscribe to RealClassic and so we know exactly how many copies are needed. This means that every copy we print is wanted: no copies of RealClassic are ever pulped. The exact opposite is true of the magazines you can buy in the shops - around 60% of them are wasted, every month. Tens of thousands of magazines are printed and distributed and, if unsold, then they are thrown away. We've reduced the wastage involved in publishing a printed magazine to its bare minimum.
RealClassic is different in another way, too (too). We still suffer the odd qualm about causing trees to be cut down, paper to be produced, pages to be printed and so on, all to manufacture the monthly melange that is RealClassic. So to set our minds at rest, we're making an annual donation to The Woodland Trust, and we will offset our impact somewhat by planting a copse or two of vibrant, verdant trees.
They've told us; 'We currently have a project based in Cornwall called the China Clay Project which aims to regenerate the landscape of mid-Cornwall where China Clay extraction has left a legacy of surface tips covering 26 sq miles around St Austell. It will do this by planting and restoring 780 hectares (1927 acres) of regionally appropriate, native broadleaf woodland in the China Clay Area.
'The project is now in full swing and the money you have kindly donated will be put towards plantings during Spring and Autumn this year. Your recognition of our valuable work to help the environment is greatly appreciated.'
So that's all about our little efforts. Here's some of the bigger picture…
At the end of last year, the Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs published the results of a huge research project which looked at the overall state of the UK heritage vehicle market - including cars, bikes, and anything else which might be called a classic vehicle. It makes for fascinating reading.
The Fed distributed questionnaires throughout their affiliated clubs, individual and trade members (so the results represent nearly a quarter of a million classic vehicle enthusiasts), and their findings correct many misunderstandings.
Most classic vehicles are expensive, right?
Wrong. 67% are valued at less than £10,000. So two-thirds of old vehicles cost less than the average Ford Fiesta. Hardly the sport of kings, is it?
Old vehicles are a big environmental problem, right?
Wrong. Two-thirds of them travel less than 900 miles per year, and a whopping 20% travel less than 300 miles in a year. It's pretty tough to destroy a planet if you only ride five miles a week - and it's impossible to contribute to climate change if your old bike is sat stationary in a shed!
Most old vehicle owners are pretty well off, right?
Wrong. Over half fell into the 'annual household income under £35,000' bracket, and 30% have a household income of less than £20k. So 30% of old vehicle owners have a combined household income which is lower than the £23,000 average individual income. Classic motorcycling in particular is a hobby which almost everyone can afford to enjoy.
The classic vehicle industry is in decline and we enthusiasts have little influence over decision-makers, right?
Wrong. The UK's historic vehicle business is worth £3 BILLION annually. It employs over 27,000 people and exports £300 million worth of goods and services each year. Our hobby is a significant contributor to the UK economy.
The conclusion of FBHVC report says it all. 'The historic vehicle movement in Britain is a world leader: we invented the interest, we have fostered it and we have developed it. That position as world leader would be at risk if the freedom to use old vehicles we to be curtailed.'
The current trend in politics is to alter our behaviour by making us understand that some activities are simply not sustainable in the long term. Fair enough. However, feeling guilty about owning and occasionally riding a classic motorcycle may not be an appropriate reaction. If owning an old bike stops you buying a new one, then it is positively helping to keep production and its by-products under control.
If you're worried that your motorcycling really is somehow contributing to the problem, then simply adjust another area of your lifestyle to compensate. There's a link to the Woodland Trust below, in case you'd like to plant some trees, for instance.
So you don't need to feel guilty about buying old bikes, riding old bikes or even reading about them.
The Woodland Trust
Federation of British Historic Vehicle Clubs:
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