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When is mandatory not mandatory??

January 28, 2012

Musselburgh, Scotland – Just to make sure that we are all on the same page, in the same ball park and barking up the same tree…

Let me define mandatory. According to my dictionary it means; required or commanded by authority; obligatory. Well is does in England but apparently not in France.

Tis only a few short months ago when an alleged 100,000 French motorcyclists took to the streets in protesting against a number of mandatory requirements that the French Government wished to inflict upon them. There was much talk of human rights, freedom and the usual biker minority rights stuff, particularly when it came to the mandatory wearing of yellow high visibility jackets.

Anyway after the obligatory thrash around the Paris Boulevard Périphérique and the face out with the Gendarmerie Nationale, Police Nationale, CRS or Gendarmerie Mobile everyone shock hands and with honour satisfied went home.

Scroll forward to January 4 2012 and the French Minister of the Interior signing the formal decree making the wearing of an area of ​​150 cm2 retro-reflective material mandatory for riders of motorcycles exceeding 125cc, from January 2013. At this point I could make a smart arse comment about the hopelessness of protest, but I won’t!

Bit of a downer that. But not according to Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (FFMC) the French riders rights group. Apparently having successfully fought against the  plans of the French Government to impose the mandatory wearing of yellow high visibility jackets FFMC see the mandatory wearing of 150cm² reflective material as a victory. I’m just a bit confused here, there was me thinking that this was all about things not being mandatory, about the human rights of the minority and freedom.

Not wishing to labour the point but the French riders groups don’t exactly have a good record when it comes to biking and things mandatory. Mandatory headlights on, mandatory crash helmets, mandatory retro-reflective helmet stickers, mandatory wearing of an area of ​​150 cm2 retro-reflective material and mandatory removal of safety camera information from GPS and other on board information systems.

Oh well c’est la vie.

Pleasing to see that Loughton Town Council, a town in the Epping Forest District of Essex, has honoured neurosurgeon Sir Hugh Cairns by placing a Blue Plaque on his former home in Whitakers Way, Loughton.

Profoundly affected by treating T. E. Lawrence (Lawrence of Arabia) for head injuries during the 6 days before he, Lawrence,  died following a motorcycle accident. Cairns began a long study of what he saw as the unnecessary loss of life by motorcycle despatch riders through head injuries. His research led to the use of crash helmets by both military and civilian motorcyclists. As a consequence of treating Lawrence, Sir Hugh Cairns would ultimately save the lives of many motorcyclists.

Ride with pride, that’s mandatory!

© Back Roads Rider 2012

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