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Advertising Standards??

August 1, 2010


Cheltenham, England – Motorcycle safety is not immune to the politics of profit and loss.

Instance the Association des Constructeurs Europeens de Motocycles (ACEM) who has announced a ‘reinforcement’ of its advertising policy relating to the road safety of motorcycle, scooter and moped riders.

‘Reinforcement’?  Basically a set of guidelines setting out a common approach to the socially responsible advertising and promotion of motorcycles, scooters and mopeds destined for use on European public roads. So its out with aggressive riding styles and the depiction of unsafe behaviour, sometimes called ‘having fun’, and in with encouraging safe and responsible behaviour and promoting safety enhancing features such as advanced braking systems, stability control and who knows perhaps even SafeRider driven electronic vehicle speed control.

Nothing new there then?  Not really as those of us who eagerly await the next euro speak utterance from ACEM HQ in the Avenue de la Joyeuse Entrée, Brussels know. In fact ACEM rolled out a similar commitment in 2006 when, amid a fanfare of flugelhorns and euro back slapping, it signed the European Road Safety Charter. Euro moral – never be afraid to cash in on euro governmental sort term memory loss syndrome i.e. if it was good for PR the first time around it sure as hell will be the second.

All these commitments to safety raise some interesting issues, what you might call the sub-texts.

Like – There’s nothing whatsoever to stop manufactures showing completely outrageous (i.e. fun) use of motorcycles in adverts, provided its made clear that images were not shot on a ‘public highway’.

Like – The person who ‘signed up’ ACEM to this ‘new’ advertising regime, ACEM President Stefan Piere, is also CEO of Austrian motorcycle manufacturer KTM Sport Motorcycles. KTM, you may recall, with is advertising campaign for the ‘Duke’ showing every possible legal and illegal public highway motorcycle  ‘street move’ both known and unknown to man. Ahh of course Stefan like guns and cigarettes motorcycle manufactures have no control over usage.

Like – The depressed state of the European motorcycle market and the fact that it’s going to stay depressed for some considerable time. Who knows the European manufactures might even need EU financial support at some point. Good idea then to sign up to anything that might ‘ease’ a bit of euro funding.

Like – Protecting the market. Load up European Motorcycle Type Approval with plenty of mandatory electronic gizmos to make it simple uneconomic for Indian and Chinese manufactures to entry the European market.

So is that road safety or economic safety for the manufactures?

Of course you could even build your own motorcycle factory in India, to make local spec versions of your best-selling euro ‘crotch rockets’. Costing far far less to make than your European operation can achieve and avoiding that nasty 100% import duty. Nice little profit. You could sell them into a burgeoning middle class market with few restraints on road safety issues. Bit like the European market used to be before all the safety meddling started really!!

Motorcycle safety = Responding to local economic opportunities.

© Back Roads Rider 2010

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Nelly Bly permalink
    August 4, 2010 2:58 pm

    Everywhere you look it’s all down to money. KTM produced the 990 Super Duke R a great machine with a top speed of 145mph, but where would anybody ride at that speed – apart from the Darwin brigade and racers? When asked why they (manufacturers) continue to produce race replicas, the answer was – “well that’s what the market asks for”.

    Speed limiters for cars, trucks and vans have been around for a while – see they are already compulsory for HGVs and now the EC wants them to become compulsory for vans and light trucks.

    Although they (EC) use the safety mantra to bring in legislation (vans are involved in a higher level of crashes), the more insidious reason is to curb carbon emissions. “In an attempt to head off the likely protests from haulage firms and van operators, the report defends the proposal insisting that it is a safe and cost-effective way of cutting emissions and improving fuel efficiency”.

    It therefore perfectly logical that the EC will at some time call for mandatory speed limiters for bikes. It is a natural process. What is extremely unnerving is the fact that our representatives in Brussels believe they can tell the policy makers that they do not accept this technology -after the horse has bolted i.e. after the product has “once again” been developed through an EU funded project – and expect them to listen.

    The best example of just how indifferent the EC is regarding the opinions of riders is the latest Road Safety Action Plan, calling for mndatory ABS, AHO, airbags on bikes etc. This was directly following their soiree with FEMA – the Motorcycle Forum, where they had a “dialogue” with motorcyclists to “understand their views”.

    In the latest FEMA newsletter under the heading “Hands of throttle or braking controls”

    their solution is:

    “The next proposals of the Commission to strengthen ITS development and implementation will be an opportunity for riders to have their concerns and needs addressed, especially regarding machine control and invasive technology (…).

    “Anyone who ever rode a motorcycle or a scooter knows that the rider’s careful control of his machine will dramatically suffer from interferences with steering, braking or throttling. Leaving control to the rider is the best way to make sure he remains safe. That is why FEMA will fight for the safety of riders, using the best weapon at its disposal: plain common sense”.

    but what plain common sense does FEMA intend to use? Another motorcycle forum maybe? Handbags at dawn? or maybe the two kiddies working for FEMA can stand up to the EC Road Safety Unit representatives – with what? their profound knowledge of the issues? (NB: that was sarcasm).

    The fact is that the representation of riders in Europe – FEMA – is in the hands of amateurs. Unless we accept that safety/emissions control ergo speed limiters will be next on the agenda – (not least because it provides a steady income for the passengers of the EU gravy train), we will find that motorcycling as we know it, will become a dream of days gone by. Maybe not in the next 5 years or even 10 – but it will come.

    It’s all about money – and that is plain common sense.


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