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ABS = A Bit Silly

November 1, 2010


Stranraer, Scotland – Not a direct reference to anti-lock braking systems more a reference too….

The very silly way that the Federation of European Motorcycle Associations (FEMA) has dealt with the European Commissions proposals for the mandatory fitment of ABS to motorcycles.

FEMA’s position, if ABS becomes mandatory an on/off switch be fitted allowing owners choice of operation, and its later rejection by the Commission has made headlines in the European motorcycle press. Leading to rumours that the introduction of mandatory ABS will be the end for large trail bikes and dual sport motorcycles.

Some good publicity for FEMA, a job well done, protecting the interests of European riders. Well no! FEMA made a presumption when the Commission proposed mandatory ABS they presumed that it would be permanently active. They were wrong.

Indeed comments by the Association des Constructeurs Européens de Motocycles (ACEM) Communications Officer, Filippo Segato, that: “Today the on/off button for ABS is permitted by the EU legislation. In the present text of the new proposal there is no mention of prohibiting it. The Commission has no intention to prohibit it, on the contrary. FEMA is drawing attention on a feature that nobody had the intention to prohibit.” Have led to fears in the ‘industry’ that European Union (EU) politicians may actually propose to ban the ABS on/off button we have now.

Little wonder then that FEMA’s now a laughing-stock in Brussels. Rider credibility has left the building. We look like idiots.

This is not the first time FEMA has failed to comprehend or manage issues responsible and correctly. FEMA makes much of co-operation and co-working with other European bodies but there is a gap between intention and actuality.

Take the work of European Committee for Normalisation (CEN) on the European standard, EN1317-8, for protective road restraint systems for motorcyclists, i.e. biker friendly crash barriers and under run systems. FEMA attacked CEN in 2009 for dragging its feet over the Standard. Stating that: “CEN participants tend to forget the reality behind the objective.”  Implying that CEN Committee members gave little thought to rider deaths. FEMA’s press statement caused considerable hurt to the CEN experts. Far from dragging their heels the experts were merely trying to find a way of improving the Spanish test procedure, touted by FEMA Secretary General Aline Delhaye, and upon which it was proposed that EN1317-8 be based. The experts were concerned that the Spanish test only took into account riders who had been thrown from their machines before hitting barriers; it did not include riders hitting barriers while still mounted. In short CEN was being vilified by FEMA for actually trying to produce the best result for riders!

Then there’s the strange case of the 2008 European Mobility Week. FEMA made a real ‘thing’ about motorcycles and scooters not being included. A press release criticising both the EU Commission and ACEM went the rounds and appeared in the EU media. Wrong! In fact motorcycle events took place in a number of European cities among them Madrid. Considerable angst from the Commission and fuming from ACEM who had made considerable efforts to include motorcycles and scooters in Mobility Week. FEMA pretty good at generating misunderstandings and confusion not altogether good at promoting biking.

There’s a saying that biker’s get what they deserve, so perhaps we deserve FEMA. But considering FEMA is spending in the order of £200,000 a year (in fact a small amount in terms of a lobby) perhaps we deserve better. But then perhaps what we have suits ‘the other side’ better than we would like to think.

A paranoid Machiavellian of my acquaintance believes that the ‘other side’ actually runs ‘our side’ too. Perhaps he knows something we don’t. Creepy!!

Time for a comparison; (a) The City of Madrid motorcycle and scooter website (b) The London motorcycle and scooter website. Time for a bit of a Spanish Inquisition in London then.

Oh hell, just ride and forget the politics. It’s more fun that way!

© Back Roads Rider 2010

3 Comments leave one →
  1. Teapot permalink
    November 1, 2010 10:41 am

    Yes, they’re a lot more positive on the continent (well, in the south at least). Madrid is particularly good and could even show Italy a few tricks. I also reckon that Madrid doesn’t have different bike parking rules in every barrio (borough).

    I do wonder sometimes if our transport planners/councillors/media still haven’t got over the mods and rockers stuff of their childhood. The industry don’t help either – where are the bikes/scoots that are cheap to run, practical urban transport? Why do the bike press think such bikes are ‘boring’? Why do most new cars seem to get more mpg than bikes?

  2. Elaine permalink
    November 3, 2010 2:23 pm

    Talk about shooting the messenger!!

    I sent the link of this article to the FEMA office to let them know about it and got a reply back from the young chappie there.

    “Dear Mrs. Dr Elaine, Is it true that already reaches up to 10 readers a month? Congratulations to your stunning journalistic skills”.

    While I thank him for the compliment, I have to admit, I can’t take that honour.

    Keep up the good work. There are times when inconvenient truth is required and men and women who represent the interests of many, should listen, not shun from it. I hope your audience of “10 readers” enjoy your blog as much as I do.


  1. El Camino – The Road

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