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The line in the sand, its missing….

March 16, 2011


Knaresborough, England – Have you seen it? The line in the sand has gone AWOL….

Perhaps it, the line, has passed you. It can be identified quite easily it has property of Federation of European Motorcycle Associations (FEMA), guardians of “riders rights” in Europe, neatly printed upon it. It was drawn, apparently, at the point where FEMA decided that enough was enough in terms of European Union legislation being divisive and restrictive to Europe’s 18 million motorcycle and scooter users. However in true Euro style it seems quite portable.

So BRR has drawn a new line. Our own version. Not a wishy-washy Euro style ruling but a William Barret Travis line in the sand. Remember the Alamo? Remember William Barret Travis, the man who drew a line in the sand with his sword and urged those willing to stay and defend the fort to step across it.

We have a new recruit. None other than Motorcycle News (MCN) journalist Kevin Ash. Is he crossing our line and joining those of us who believe its complete  madness to develop systems that take away the sensory control that a motorcycle rider should have and is taught? Apparently he is.

In his MCN column Ash has labelled the high-tech on-board curve warning system developed through the EU SafeRider Project by Motor Industry Research Association (MIRA) , as “utterly useless”, “deeply flawed”, “distracting” and “potentially dangerous”. Further Ash says the “safety bike” ( Triumph Sprint ST ) developed by MIRA is an ill-judged waste of time and cash” and asks the question, “How the hell did this get the go-ahead?” His main issue with, the curve warning, system is, “how on earth a pre-programmed assessment of a bend, taken from a map, can come up with a speed in any way representative of how fast a bike really can get around that corner safely”. Then what about liability, if a rider crashes in a bend when the system is in use and alludes to the different skills or riders. 

Nice one Kevin but what about the fact that FEMA was a partner in the SafeRider Consortium and advocates a SafeRider 2 programme. Will you also join with those of us who believe its complete stupidity for “riders groups” to involve themselves with “partners” who have different agenda’s and politicians who just have to legislate.

Then, on the specific issue of curve warning, there’s the matter of the Consortium Partners of SafeRider being somewhat “selective” with the data. Meaning? The riders questioned about “curve warning” were actually asked about “curve speed warning” which was NOT the true definition of the device as agree by the SafeRider  Consortium Partners. Oh and BTW did anyone notice if any evidence was put forward by SafeRider that any of these devices will actually decrease crashes.

So with SafeRider done and dusted and wages to pay FEMA has moved on. Yes folks it’s the new FEMA project the European Scanning Tour for Motorcycle Safety, better know as  RiderScan. At a cost of around 700,000 euros, fifty per cent coming from the EU Directorate-General for Mobility and Transport (DG Move) Road Safety i.e. your taxes, FEMA is embarking on this three-year project. Which will  “gather existing knowledge in 8 motorcycle safety related areas”. This in academic circles is known as a desk top study. You read what everyone else has done then write it up, it’s also known in academic circles as “nice work if you can get it”.

FEMA, defender of “riders rights”, against a background of the setting of targets for rider casualties both EU wide and via the UN run a project from which the outcomes will almost most certainly be used to set said targets. Thus leading to more constraint of riders through the introduction of safety systems, Vision Zero, etc etc.

I could more understand FEMA involvement in this RiderScam err sorry RiderScan project if FEMA had a solid base in Brussels. Perhaps a caucus of MEP’s and the power to fight back, even negotiate sensible our end with “friends” in high places. Involving the organisation in this is rather like taking on the US Seventh Fleet in a rowing boat with one oar, a one-armed oarsman and using a six shoot revolver with one bullet in it while trying to out run a tsunami.

I need another head massage.

Ride safe and don’t forget to scan!

© Back Roads Rider 2011

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Elaine Hardy permalink
    March 17, 2011 12:05 pm

    Reference your comment “Will you also join with those of us who believe its complete stupidity for “riders groups” to involve themselves with “partners” who have different agenda’s and politicians who just have to legislate”.

    I reject this comment and wish to explain the reason for FEMA’s initial involvement.

    In 2007, the General Secretary put forward the proposal to take part in the Saferider project. FEMA had been approached by the Consortium to participate as the “end user”.

    At the time, there were concerns about participation in this type of project, but it was felt – then – that if FEMA did not participate, the project would go ahead anyway and produce devices and gadgets that would be potentially dangerous. It was only because I agreed to represent the organisation in the project to ensure that this did not happen that the decision was made to become involved.

    In fact it was due to my insistance that the Consortium undertook the survey and focus group to get the views of motorcyclists and experts. My first presentation to the Consortium as representative of FEMA was to state “we are your reality check”, which clearly irritated the managers of the project.

    The then President of FEMA stated to the Consortium that he was sceptical that these devices would achieve the results that the project proposed. We made these views very clear to the Consortium and when we felt that the partners had “misinterpreted” the data from the survey and ignored the views of the trainers in the focus group, we made those views very clear as well, indeed I first critiqued the analysis of the Consortium regarding the outcome of the survey and focus group and the then President and I both wrote to the Consortium letters, one of which included the following excerpt from one of my letters to them:

    “The President of FEMA in fact wrote to the analysts in reference to the following conclusion:

    (“The latter result (no correlation with accidents) evidences the necessity to explain to the rider community the potential benefits of the functions and devices under investigation and to involve the riders into trial tests in order to experience the benefits. Nonetheless three countries of great relevance for PTW accidents (Greece, Italy and Spain) show that there is a very positive evaluation of device usefulness, thus paving the way for a decrease of accidents”).

    He stated: “While I am willing to share your optimism about the potential of the devices being developed in the SAFERIDER project, I must also agree with Dr Hardy that unless you have evidence that these devices will actually provide benefits, this statement draws conclusions well beyond the data provided in the survey. What if for example, any one of these devices proves to be dangerous? Finally do you have any evidence at all that these devices will decrease accidents? I thought this was the purpose of the study”.

    “Therefore I have been authorised by the FEMA Committee to request that the Consortium records FEMA’s reservations about the results and conclusions of section 4.2 of the SAFERIDER Use Cases report”.

    During 2008, the General Secretary took different positions not only from myself regarding the project(s), but also from the then Technical Officer and from the then President and it was due to these irreconcilable differences with her policies and positions, that the three of us resigned.

    For clarification – at that time, the reason for FEMA’s involvement was honourable, it was to ensure that the Consortium did not produce devices that were unacceptable to FEMA’s position on individual control.

    In the event, the outcome of the project has been justifiably criticised, not just by MCN, but as you are aware, by ourselves at Right To Ride and by other riders’ rights organisations in Europe and as far away as the U.S. and Australia. The campaign we set up on Facebook “No To Throttle Control” includes the support of people from some of the National Organisations within FEMA.

    Whether involvement in these projects can be defined as stupid or not ultimately depends on the ability of the organisation to defend its position or to compromise beyond that “red line in the sand”.

    As I recall, FEMA and the BMF took part in the MAIDS project – for all the right reasons – to ensure that representation from riders was included. As we are all aware, the MAIDS report had some positive results but there were also many issues which were a blatant misuse of data (criticised by Prof Harry Hurt and other motorcycle accident causation experts) e.g. the findings on tampering, AHO, custom bikes – in all three cases, the MAIDS report concluded that these were issues resulting in a higher proportion of accidents. Interestingly – these are now within the scope of the Framework Regulations proposals.

    It’s a tough call.


  1. El Camino – The Road

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