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Barrier bluster!!

June 26, 2011


Corbridge, England – Another page turned in the continuing saga of a European standard for biker friendly crash barriers.

In the past week or so the European Committee for Normalisation (CEN) Technical Committee on Road Equipment (TC226) has decided not to adopted proposed standard, EN1317-8, for protective road restraint systems for motorcyclists, instead turning it into a Technical Specification.

Is this a good or bad thing? The answer to that is probably good. We need to realise that this is all about developing a testing procedure for systems that fit to either existing or new barriers that makes the barrier “friendlier” should a motorcyclist collided with it. At least we now have an “officially” recognised test specification that manufactures can use to develop barriers.

Huge issues remain. There is no obligation for the road authority in any European Union (EU) country to install motorcycle friendly barriers. EN1317-8 itself is a test procedure only for motorcyclists who are sliding into a barrier in a prone position, a scenario that is more likely after a primary collision where the biker is thrown from the bike. It does not cover situations where the rider collides directly with the barrier, a possible scenario at corners. Nor does EN1317-8 cover a complete biker friendly barrier system its only concern, as previously mentioned, is add-on systems to ameliorate injuries.

And the bluster, well that’s coming from the Federation of European Motorcycle Associations (FEMA). Despite doing a large amount of very good work to get EN1317-8 to this stage FEMA seems set on a path of misleading negativity and disinformation. Rather than accentuating the positive and getting more EU bikers and in particular main stream motorcycle journalists on board this week FEMA’s PR effectively stitched up the members of TC226 and caused red faces and confusion in the biking press corp.

Calling the adoption of the Technical Specification a “missed historic opportunity” and “sad”, alleging self-interest among the TC226 Expert Group with “completely changed the parameters of the European road restraint system market” and from FEMA Secretary General Aline Delhaye: “I have my doubts about the legitimacy of the arguments put forward by those who voted ‘no’ to a European Standard” is not the way to go. Especially when journos call CEN and find out that the main reason for rejection of EN1317-8 as a Standard is that the experts think that it is not as comprehensive as it should be, and could be improved to enhance rider safety. In short CEN is being vilified by FEMA for actually trying to produce the best result for riders!

But we have been here before. In 2009 FEMA attacked CEN 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. I am certainly not alone in thinking they, CEN, do care, nor am I alone in thinking that “off the record” comments by FEMA representatives relating to CEN Expert Groups and their relations with barrier manufactures have not gone unnoticed. Indeed counter allegations relating to Ms Delhaye and her affectation with Spanish barrier standards, testing houses and barrier manufactures have already reached the Riders ears. No doubt all unfounded tittle-tattle.

What FEMA needs is an “expert” but the last one left or was sacked I seem to recall and apparently was never replaced.

We are where we are, but on the barrier issue we are certainly in a more positive place than FEMA would have us believe.

A comprehensive review of the state of play on the barrier issue can be found here….

 Ride safe and enjoy your summer riding.

© Back Roads Rider 2011

4 Comments leave one →
  1. aboutye permalink
    June 26, 2011 6:51 pm

    Hi BRR – re your comment regarding the last FEMA technical person “the last one left or was sacked”

    Trevor Baird was the last Technical Officer and he resigned as did the President and the Research Officer.

    • Back Roads Rider permalink*
      June 26, 2011 9:40 pm

      And FEMA stll has not taken the hint i.e. their could be management “style” issues down in the good old Rue des Champs.

  2. The Kawa Kid permalink
    June 27, 2011 9:27 am

    and another thing….your man from the BMF – is supposed to be the Director of Communications. Interestingly BMF has put nothing out about this latest development on crash barriers. The question is, who controls communications in FEMA – the staff – or rather the general secretary or is it done in collaboration with the directors?

    Whatever the circumstances something went horribly wrong. Considering the years of working with the CEN and producing papers about motorcycle friendly crash barriers, doesn’t the Director of Communications and indeed the national organisations in FEMA understand that they now look like a bunch of amateurs?

    One could only imagine the contempt that the CEN experts must be feeling now for Miss Delhaye and by extension – FEMA.


  1. El Camino – The Road

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