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Wim wonders….

September 4, 2011

Aldeburgh, England – The holidays are over and its back to business…..

Even in Brussels where last week the European Parliament Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO) met. The proceedings included a debated on the Rapporteurs, Dutch MEP Wim van de Camp, report on the European Union (EU) Commissions Proposals for Framework Regulation(s) on the Approval and Market Surveillance of Two or Three-wheel Vehicles and Quadricycles.

Wim, who likes to style himself as a “dyed in the wool motorcyclist”, has not had a good summer. He’s had fun poked at him by a popular Dutch TV show who aired a video of him falling off his motorcycle and narrowly avoiding side swiping a parked car. Then in the IMCO session he fessed up to a crash on his bike saying: “If my motorcycle had ABS braking I wouldn’t have found myself on the ground last week”.

No doubt Wim will survive. He has a reputation in Dutch political circles as just that, a survivor, and an adept and clever compromiser. Indeed the way he is skilfully managing out the power battle between the European Parliament and the European Commission, an interesting sub plot as the motorcycle Regulations progress through the European Parliament legislative system, is nothing short of a master class.

This is all about compromise. With  over 300 amendments now “down” and with considerable pressure from IMCO members, many of whom have axes to grind on safety, electric motorcycles and emissions, van de Camp appeared to be “a man under pressure” at this weeks IMCO meeting, or maybe he just had sore legs from falling off his bike.

But of course Wim already has his compromise prepared, his van de Camp plan, which he briefly alluded too during the IMCO debate, which incidentally lasted all of 32 minutes. It is this that he will take forward to the shadow Rapporteurs meeting, to be held in Strasbourg around the 14 September. It is this that Wim will persuade the disparate political groups that make up IMCO to support, and it is this that IMCO will vote upon on 16 October almost certainly approve and then pass to the European Parliament.

The van de Camp plan? Its simple do everything the Commission wants on, Anti tampering Regulation, Compulsory anti lock brakes or advanced braking systems, Automatic Headlights On (AHO) mandatory on ALL motorcycles sold in the EU, On Board Diagnostics (OBD), Repair and Maintenance Information (RMI), etc etc. But do it over a timescale from 2013 to 2021. Yes it’s the good ole “play the long game” compromise. Things just won’t seem so bad introduced over eight years will they, besides by year five it will all be forgotten.

There will of course be some compromises in the compromise! These will certainly involve the easing of proposed emissions regulations on small engined motorcycles and scooters, and the introduction of some form of check and balance on the Delegated Acts. The mechanism that allows the EU Commission unelected expert panel to draw up the details of the Regulations which will then automatically become law in EU countries.

Will Wim’s plan benefit riders? From a safety perspective it may do. But from the point of view of costs, no. We will have pay for all the bells and whistles that at a whim the EU says we need.

The industry must be delighted. Eight years to sort out the engineering. Plus things that handily make Europe a no go area for motorcycles and scooters made in India, China and the Far East. Eight years to set up manufacturing plants in those very countries which cannot export motorcycles and scooters to Europe, and the consumer pays.

Well I guess its consumer protection of a sort!!

Ride safe, ride like you mean it. Oh and don’t fall off in front of a TV crew!

© Back Roads Rider 2011

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5 Comments leave one →
  1. Elaine permalink
    September 7, 2011 9:27 am

    “Dyed in the wool motorcyclist” or…. a Wolf in Sheep’s clothing. The fact is that FEMA still continues to support Mr van de Camp as the “good guy”

    Back in March this year, we wrote to him and others – see http://www.righttoride.eu/?p=6722

    Mr van de Camp’s response to us was “Thank you very much for your email. However, we were pretty surprised by your note. We seriously try to take everyones interests into account, but this does not mean the interests of the motorcyclists only. Motorcycling is a freedom in responsibility. I presume that you agree with this.

    Let’s keep in contact.
    Kind regards,
    Wim van de Camp

    Our reply:

    Dear Mr van de Camp,

    Thank you very much for your response, it is a pity that it was not possible to have your reply before yesterday’s hearing, but I presume that you were very busy. As you mention, you take very seriously all interests and I appreciate taking the time to reply to me.
    The issue of freedom, is in my (and my colleague’s) view, completely irrelevant in the discussions regarding the Commission’s proposals on L category vehicles. The issue of responsibility however, is very important.
    Indeed for many of the issues raised including ABS, OBD, small series manufacturers and the environmental issues, we are very supportive of the industry (ACEM) and we have made this clear on a number of occasions which we have mentioned in our continuous correspondence with DG Enterprise (specifically with Mr Gielen and Mr Jean).
    For clarification, my colleague Trevor Baird was the Technical Officer for the International Coalition at the UNECE before he resigned to return to Northern Ireland, therefore has considerable experience in these matters. I have a PhD in Social Research and have written numerous reports regarding motorcycling and motorcycle safety.
    To be clear, we consider that the cost of implementing the legislation for ABS will fall on motorcyclists and have a serious negative impact on the industry. We do not contest the potential benefits that ABS (CBS or whatever braking system that may evolve) offer to reduce crashes. The cost for ABS mentioned by Antonio Perlot – which only covered the hardware was 250 euros. I presume he refers to manufacturing costs. We have looked at numerous models already on the market and the variation of retail costs is between 550 to 1000 Euros. I note that Mr Jean mentioned cost benefit analysis, however, cost benefit analysis is based on estimates and varies enormously from one country to another. It is definitely not an “exact science”.
    The issue of “the switch” which FEMA has brought attention to, was and remains in our view irrelevant, simply because – as ACEM pointed out, it was never on the agenda. Hence the title “from Damnation to Purgatory” which we intended to mean – a discussion about an issue which was completely unnecessary.
    Equally, we feel that mandating OBD is not necessary. However, we do believe that over time, OBD will be a very important and necessary part of motorcycle maintenance. As we mentioned, there are other alternatives which include Periodical Technical Inspection. We already have this in our country, it is an annual inspection that costs £22 (c.26 Euros) and I can assure you that it works, simply because the vast majority of motorcyclists have their bikes serviced and tested prior to taking it to the testing station to ensure that their bikes are “up to standard”. This is not just a safety issue, but also to ensure that the motorcycle is compliant to the correct standards. It was for this reason that we raised concerns about your position because we felt that you were discarding “a priori” this option (PTI) i.e. you had already made up your mind.
    The issue of mandating technology has absolutely nothing to do with “freedom”, it is simply an economic factor which is recognised in the LAT report and as we stated and see that ACEM agrees, ultimately it will be the consumer to pick up the cost or shift towards cheaper second-hand bikes thus defeating the purpose of the proposed legislation on mandatory OBD for the purpose of ensuring the correct emission levels.
    With regards to AHO, we differ in our opinions from the industry regarding the safety benefits for the reasons that we have stated, I have written a report on this and have identified that the reduction in casualties in non DRL countries and DRL countries is the same or very similar – in other words DRL has had no effect. As I recall, the reason why the car industry agreed to mandatory AHO for cars was to avoid developing soft vehicle fronts which they felt would be too expensive for the car industry.
    Finally, we have corresponded with Mr Gielen and Mr Jean over the last 18 months and explained why we felt that anti-tampering measures were unnecessary. In the meeting yesterday there was mention that young people tamper with mopeds to increase performance. However what was NOT mentioned was that mopeds already are subject to anti-tampering measures, so the whole discussion about this – regarding young people altering their mopeds was completely irrelevant. Clearly if this is the case as the gentleman from ADEME pointed out – then the measures that already exist don’t work. The Commission has not produced any evidence to identify widespread tampering amongst motorcyclists – and as I understand it, this the reason why they have commissioned TRL to carry out this study.
    We would be very pleased to discuss further any concerns you may have and would be willing to provide any input which you may require. To be clear, I absolutely agree with you that motorcycling has responsibilities along with all road users.

    Best wishes

    We are still waiting for him to reply……

  2. Dave permalink
    September 8, 2011 9:06 am

    It’s been interesting to note the uproar among the motorcycling community these proposals have caused. While they may be somewhat misguided and skewed by the interests of the manufacturers it’s hardly a surprise that something like this has come along. I wonder if those riders who feel it’s been their right to use our roads as race tracks for decades and those who have seriously injured themselves by riding well outside the rules of the road see this as a result of their actions? I wonder if the motorcycling media who have glamourised anti social riding feel partly responsible? I doubt it.

    Motorcycling needs to evolve and change if it’s to survive and so do the riders. Anything that impinges on rider freedom is met with resistance and fear. With freedom comes responsibility and the sad fact is that many if not most riders don’t want to take the responsibility part.

    • Back Roads Rider permalink*
      September 8, 2011 10:34 pm

      Yes indeed.

      How different things would have been if the “Industry” and associated media had 40 years ago promoted the motorcycle as a safe, handy form of personal transport instead of an attractive way of getting an adrenalin rush.

      Still not to worry the age of the “weekend warrior” is fading fast we have the new age of the “adventure motorcyclist” to look forward too. Doing the “Cat” replaced by “The Road of Bones”.

      Meantime the “Industry” moves on to selling high performance sports bikes to willing middle-class “weekend warriors” in India and China where road safety and safety legislation is on par to the UK in the nineteen thirties. I look forward to the response of both the Indian and Chinese Government.

      “Motorcycling needs to evolve and change if it’s to survive and so do the riders”.

      Yes very true.

      Unfortunately it won’t as the people who purport to be the riders representatives are stuck in a groove of student rhetoric. The “motorcycling community” you refer to as being “in up roar” are really only about ten per cent or less of UK riders. As usual the “silent majority” are out there just getting on with it.

      Then there’s the relationship between the industry and the rights groups. Even now its alleged that the opening gambit of a certain public affairs office contracted to the industry is “ Don’t worry I run the riders groups too”.

      • Elaine permalink
        September 9, 2011 3:10 pm

        I’m not sure that most riders are irresponsible. I do think that there is a proportion of riders that need a reality check and are – thanks to the industry’s promotion of “ride like your hero” advertising – largely responsible for the reasoning behind the EU proposals with regards to safety. That said, this does not mean that legislation to mandate technology will reduce casualties.

        The fact is that the Commission had signed up to the principles of the CARS 21 report (2006).

        In its report on a Competitive Regulatory Framework for the European Automotive Industry, the CARS 21 High Level Group made recommendations in relation to better regulation in the Automotive Industry. The principles concerning the quality of legislation are as follows:
        • Generally, the EU should refrain from adopting technical legislation directly affecting the vehicle construction and functioning outside the type approval framework and at the same time consistency of type approval legislations should be improved.
        • All automotive legislation should be performance-oriented, technology-neutral, and overprescriptive regulations should be avoided.
        • The principle that regulations should only fix objectives in terms of measurable performances, not solutions, should be strictly respected. If there are exceptions, the criteria to accept them should be strictly respected.

        So it seems that in spite of signing up to specific principles for the automotive sector, these have been completely ignored for the motorcycle sector. And that’s where the problem lies, which is that the Commission and subsequently the IMCO are making up rules as they go along.

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