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Penning ponders….

September 11, 2011

Worthing, England – Is it good news or bad news?

For once I really don’t know!

This week the UK Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Transport, Mike “the bike” Penning MP launched a Consultation. Yes folks it’s on the European Union (EU) proposed regulations for the type approval and market surveillance of 2 and 3 wheeled vehicles and quadricycles.

Wow he’s asking us what we think and even meeting with the UK Motorcycle Action Group and the UK Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) is this progress at last? Even if it’s a bit late in the day its something and besides it won’t do Mikes reputation with UK bikers any harm will it. Perhaps, as with a former incumbent in his post Steven Norris, Mike fancies a stint as President of the MCIA when his politico days are over.

The Consultation well its ninety-five pages and you can view it here. I must say this appears to be a Consultation not only into the EU Regulations but also into the UK Governments Impact Assessment of the Regulations. It must also be said that the UK Government have done us all a good turn by publishing this Assessment. It confirms that the main effect of the EU regulations will be to dramatically increase the cost of purchase and the cost of running a motorcycle. scooter or moped.

Will the UK Government be able to influence outcomes at a EU level? Its  apparent that comments made by UK MEP Malcolm Harbour, Chair of the European Parliament Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO), relating to the cost benefits and the costs to end users of the imposition of the Regulations have not gone down with other IMCO members. Indeed Rapporteur, Dutch MEP Wim van de Camp, has made it clear in debate that he believes Harbour is simple voicing the UK Government position.

In fact Harbour is simple doing his job, and doing it well. He is representing the interests of riders the European “consumers” with which his Committee is charged with protecting. If only the Federation of European Motorcycle Associations (FEMA) were doing the job of protecting our interests as effectively.

As we moved towards the final stages of the approval of this Directive we should remember that the Directive itself is not “law” it is the Regulations that it contains which are “law”. These Regulations will be thrashed out by “expert groups” within which the UK is well represented. We may yet find that the final outcome, particularly relating to the costs of emission controls past to end users, is better than we hope.

Meantime the posse over at Right To Ride EU have published an e-mail exchange they have had with none other than MEP Malcolm Harbour.

Mr Harbour says:

“In the context of this draft Regulation, we are simply not engaged in a discussion on national debates concerning the mandating of high visibility jackets for riders, the banning of older motorcycles from urban areas, nor are we discussing EU funded research on throttle and speed control schemes.  These are all considerations which are completely outside the scope of this legislative proposal.

Furthermore, picking up on other concerns constituents have expressed, there are no proposals on the table about mandating the sealing of the power train from the air box or relating to setting a diameter and aspect ratio for the rear tyre”.

Which just goes to confirm the furrow that BRR has been ploughing. It’s that the European “riders rights groups”, in particular FEMA, have simple not focused on the core issues. Simply offering up red herrings on visibility etc and endless propaganda on “freedom”. While in FEMA’s case 80% funded by EU grants for work on motorcycle safety issues that they will later oppose. Little wonder we are not taken seriously at the highest European levels.

18 million motorcycle and scooter users in the European Union only 2% (360,000) are members of riders groups. Something wrong there.

As a contributor said on BRR a couple of days ago: “Motorcycling needs to evolve and change if it’s to survive and so do the riders”. That’s true but its our “representatives” that are then real barrier to progress. What we have now suits them and suits the “industry” but it obviously does not suit the majority of riders who’s views are simple not being reflected.

Perhaps we should ask Mr Harbour to head up an EU riders representative group if and when he retires from politics that is. Now there’s a thought.

Ride safe. Ride free anywhere in the EU!

© Back Roads Rider 2011

10 Comments leave one →
  1. Ian Cook permalink
    September 12, 2011 7:37 am

    “the majority of riders whose views are simply not being reflected”. On what basis do you make this statement? The majority – presumably the 98% who are not members of MAG/BMF or other groups who make up FEMA – do not make their views known. Mostly, I think they don’t see, acknowledge or realise the threats. Or maybe they simply don’t give a damn?

    “Motorcycling needs to evolve and change if it’s to survive and so do the riders” is a sweeping generalisation – the guy who made the comment was referring to the irresponsible hooligans who give us a bad name and give legislators reason to consider restrictive rules. My guess is that these idiots comprise less than the 2% who are members of riders’ groups. Why should the rest of us suffer legislation designed to control criminals? But we do, repeatedly and in areas other than motorcycling. This is the culture we need to tackle – the authorities should focus on prosecuting lawbreakers, not encumbering the rest of us with new laws which mostly serve to turn the law-abiding into inadvertent criminals.

  2. van Goddammit permalink
    September 12, 2011 12:48 pm

    FEMA members through their National organisations make up c.180,000 and falling (allegedly). Total two wheeled vehicles – motorcycles, scooters and mopeds = c.33 million. which would mean the Federation of European Motorcyclists Associations effectively represent 0.5% of “PTW” users in Europe.

    But whether you agree with them or not, they have the credentials to attend meetings simply because they have an office in Brussels. According the EU “Rules”, organisations can only take part in the EU Commission/Parliamentary processes if registered in Brussels.

  3. September 12, 2011 4:20 pm

    I don’t want to be contradictory, but the legislation is a Regulation not a Directive and therefore it is a law and will be in effect immediately, but just to confuse matters, the text contains new things called delegated acts which are sub-pieces of legislation in which the commission makes new laws without as much oversight. The main problem with anti-tampering, for example, is that this is not in the Regulation, but will be a delegated act and therefore will be drafted and implemented without much oversight by MEPs or the UK or other governments.

    • Back Roads Rider permalink*
      September 13, 2011 8:48 pm

      Please do be contradictory.

      I encourage you to be so.

      This is all about debating the issue(s) and I’d be the first to say that I don’t know it all.

  4. Elaine permalink
    September 14, 2011 8:45 am

    There is a meeting on Friday (this Friday) in Brussels with the Commission (the MCWG). (you may have to register)

    Members of this committee include government representatives (the experts) FIM, motorcycle industry and FEMA (the amateurs). Part of this meeting (and previous meetings) are discussing what is in the delegated acts and implementing acts. With regards to anti-tampering, this is still undecided, because they haven’t had the outcome of the TRL study – which will also be discussed at the meeting.

    However, in answer to Ian’s comments, there is in Brussels (in the Commission and in the EU Parliament) an image of motorcyclists which the industry in their stupidity and greed has promoted and encouraged which is, as you suggest a minority.

    However, our man (??) in Brussels – Wim van de Camp (IMCO rapporteur) is a weekend warrior by his own admission and likes to strut and/or pose with his R1 and racing leathers (including the dreaded hump).

    Nobody (that I am aware of) in this whole debate is discussing this minority (aka) the Darwin Brigade and the fact that this minority has been (again thanks to the industry) largely responsible for the regulations that are now being discussed.

    On the front page of an insert in the last copy of Motorcycle News, there is a photo of a moped (Aprilia SR50 SBK) with racing colours – why?? What purpose can there be in selling a moped that is restricted (and which is the whole basis of the anti-tampering legislation) with racing colours – if not to entice the young rider to use the roads to race.

    Considering that the industry last year decided that they would only advertise “safe” riding, I find this hypocrisy outrageous. The industry is in my view, overwhelmingly responsible for a considerable part of the carnage on the roads and the bad image that motorcycling has.

    I’m in the middle of a study of motorcycle fatalities and having trawled through various reports, there is one image that I just can’t get out of my mind: a “mohican” once on the helmet of a sports bike rider – stuck on the mudguard of a tipper truck.

  5. Dave permalink
    September 14, 2011 11:34 am

    It’s not a sweeping generalisation, if bikes continue to be seen as ‘toys’ for blokes who need a way to show of their machismo then they will pass into obscurity. If bikes continue to be sold on the basis of speed, BHP and adrenaline rush then they will be seen by the general populace as items of leisure not transport and treated as such. How many bikers who also have a car would get rid of the car if they had to chose one or the other?

    And I don’t refer just to the hooligans, thank you, I refer to every rider. We need to demonstrate that bikes are a viable solution to congestion and traffic polution used by considerate, well trained careful riders not the stereotypical speed merchant weaving in and out of traffic and pissing people off and I don’t think a lot of riders realise how the way they ride is actually viewed by the drivers that see them. We all have a responsibility to ensure biking is taken seriously whether that’s through being a riders rights activist or the way you ride. That is a responsibility a lot of riders don’t seem to want.

    If the only bikes you could ride from 2012 were 125 commuters how many ‘bikers’ would be left by 2013?

  6. Trevor Bird permalink
    September 20, 2011 1:12 pm

    I really don’t understand all the FEMA bashing on this page. All the important topics, like anti-tampering, individual approvals, ABS and so on are tackled by FEMA and having a look at the amendments, it looks like they are managing to convince MEPs to do the right thing:,cntnt01,detail,0&cntnt01articleid=238&cntnt01returnid=57

    Is it possible that you are slightly jealous that FEMA is indeed representing somebody while you are only representing yourselve? And are you actually able to name some tough points out of the FEMA position on type approval you sharply oppose? Would you deny that over the last two years the type approval discussion is steadily becoming more rider friendly? Couldn’t this partly be due to FEMA’s lobby work?

    And are you seriously convinced that FEMA representatives adore Wim van de Camp because he’s such a hardcore weekend racer? Can’t it be that FEMA is trying to maintain a healthy relationship with him, simply because as rapporteur and member of the EPP he is THE most important player in the type approval game on the parlamentary level (which your much adored Malcolm Harbour is definitely not)?

    In my view you are not aware that by discrediting FEMA you are discrediting all of its members – since FEMA is simply bringing forward the points its members want them to bring forward. Of course some of these point could be (especially in your individual view) wrong, but having a closer look at the text you produce it becomes apparent that you actually agree with most of the points FEMA is fighting for and most of your critique lacks solid arguments – not to mention evidence.

    Instead of blaming FEMA you could start to become more constructive. One of the nice things about riding is that riders are helping out each other. You are certainly helping nobody!

  7. September 23, 2011 7:35 pm

    May I have your attention please?
    May I have your attention please?
    Will the real Trevor Baird (Slim Shady) please stand up?
    I repeat, will the real Trevor Baird (Slim Shady) please stand up?
    We’re gonna have a problem here..

    Well that was a surprise seeing a facsimile of my name!

    As Trevor Baird of RIght To RIde, I personally think that Backroadsrider (BRR) is fully entitled to his opinion and if he disagrees with FEMA’s position or actions – it’s his blog and he can. There are a number of issues I also disagree with – I certainly don’t think that FEMA has done a good job representing its members – and frankly has not made much difference at all in convincing the Commission or the IMCO committee to consider the views of the National Organisations in Europe (perhaps with the exception of SVA – custom bikes, but that I suspect was more due to SMOTO’s lobbying).

    Mr van de Camp has been very clever in presenting himself as the “Biker’s friend” and it looks to me that FEMA was sucked in. Mr Harbour (who as Shadow rapporteur and chair of the IMCO) on the other hand, has given his position which is with some exceptions, the position of the UK government which I support and from what I can see, so does BRR.

    With regards to FEMA wishing to have a healthy relationship with Mr van de Camp – in the words of another Trevor – “if you sup with the devil, use a long spoon”.

    From what I have read of BRR’s blogs, they are constructive and critical where merited with a dash sometimes of acidity.

    I know for a fact that I have on more than one occasion offered help in the form of advice and information to FEMA and haven’t even received acknowledgement in return. So it goes both ways. A point raised above, FEMA speaks for its members, FEMA does not speak for me and the overwhelming majority of motorcyclists throughout Europe.

    So facsimile of me, BRR suggested that FEMA has not focussed on core issues. That is a fair comment, perhaps you may know what they are?

    Cheers Trevor B

  8. P. Lagiarist permalink
    September 23, 2011 11:54 pm

    Well – Mr T Bird…..;-)

    On the subject of using other people’s material, the latest FEMA press release mentioned in your comments seems pretty much a cut and paste from the Right To Ride article on anti-tampering, but I am sure they are used to it by now.

    Moving the Goal Posts

    What did interest me though was the following from the FEMA press release….

    “…all motorcycles put up for registration by January 2014 should comply with Euro 4, the technical details of which are expected to be published by the Commission… in December 2012, at best! This would leave all motorcycle manufacturers just over one year to design, develop and put in production new engines and new motorcycles, while selling their entire stock of previous-generation vehicles”.

    Our man on the ground in the MCWG gives another version – which was firstly that the verbal exchanges were very confusing, and secondly that the chair stated that in any case this was really “advice” as the matter is now in the hands of the Parliament and the Council.

    With regards to the comment “while selling their entire stock of previous generation vehicles” that’s bullshit, and the reason for that is that these would all be type approved and legal anyway, so why would they have to be sold by 2014 or any other date? and what happens if they are not sold – are they going to give them all to third world countries??

    Trust me it’s not jealousy – but because FEMA appears to believe its own bullshit, it’s too much of temptation not to comment.


  1. El Camino – The Road

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