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An alternative view…

September 25, 2011

Padstow, England – It is devils advocacy time…

A view from one of the thirty-three million Europeans who rides a motorcycle.

Did I join today’s “EU Hands Off Biking” protest and ride at forty-five miles an hour down lane two of the M4 today, no I did not. I’m one of the silent majority one of the thirty-two million eight hundred twenty thousand European riders who chooses to stay unaffiliated when it comes to motorcycling and politics. In my case unaffiliated because none of the “riders rights” groups reflect my views, they seem stuck in the past.

Not that I am in any way setting myself up as an unelected spokesperson for the majority of riders nor am I criticising those who choose to protest. In fact I wholly support their right too. Although it is nothing if not ironic that it is the European Union (EU) that safe guards that right. After all one of the reasons it was formed was to ensure that short little blokes from Austria, all be it wearing well cut feldgrau tunics, don’t dictate to us what to do. Lets not forget that “the men in feldgraus” answer to freedom, holding an opinion, being “different”, being a minority and democracy was a one way train ride to somewhere in Poland. Oh and don’t be complacent the camp followers, the apologists for “the men in feldgraus” are still around.

So what are my issues? Well I’ve got a few but I won’t bore you with the majority of them.

It appears from my perspective that a large element of this “EU Hands Off Biking” protest is against the European Union, not the issues about motorcycling but UK membership of the EU. It seems that the British like to blame all their woes on the EU, a fact the UK Government always finds handy in hard times. So what if we left, do you want to live in a country like Norway. One that gets stuck by default with all the EU Directives and Regulations but has none of the say. I don’t!

It’s the European Commission we should be attacking, these are the people who formulate the new Directives and Regulations. Ok I may be splitting hairs here but if you are going to protest at least protest against the right people.

Then there’s the engineering. I am an automotive engineer. I’m dedicated to forming new and creative ideas that produce, better, safer more economic vehicles. I bet 90% of the people protesting today also drive cars fitted with things like Air Bags, ABS, CBS, Traction Control, Stability Control, Active Suspension, Collision Avoidance, On Board Diagnostics, Daytime Running Lights have vehicle management systems that record the drivers actions and that meet the latest emission standards. So what’s the problem when it comes to fitting these devices to motorcycles. Transferred to bikes some of this stuff will make them safer, more manageable and hey even more fun to use. They simple won’t affect our freedom to ride the machine anywhere in Europe.

There’s the argument over things being mandatory, but that applies to cars too. Strange didn’t notice the protest over say ABS being mandatory on cars. I don’t like things being mandatory either but with twenty-seven countries involved there is little choice, back to the “lets leave the EU” argument perhaps.

Anti-tampering. Yes the Commission red herring so nicely landed and swallowed by the “riders rights groups”. Still its been very handy protest wise. Handy for both sides actually, a smokescreen for the Commission to hide behind while doing its “busy work” and handy for the rights people too. Nothing like telling someone they can’t do something to get their backs up. Trust me it won’t happen, it’s heading for the long grass.

Costs. Possible the most serious issue. I’m in no doubt that UK MEP Malcolm Harbour, Chair of the European Parliament Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO), will influence outcomes on this issue. Why should riders pay more for machines. But why then does Federation of European Motorcycle Associations (FEMA) consistently involve itself in EU funded research projects the outcomes of which influence costs ever upwards. I thought theses people were supposed to advocates of motorcycling.

Spin. Plenty of that. Hi-viz in particular. The fact that most of us are wearing some form of hi-viz clothing is cheerfully ignored by the” rights” people. As is the fact that the EU Commission has no plans in that direction. Is there a researched case for it. I think not. If nobody was wearing it I could understand people’s issue with being forced too. But as a lot of people do wear hi-viz clothing, I would not be awfully surprised if we don’t all end up having too.

You may consider my views negative and accepting, that may well be true but they are also realistic. We need to look forward and embrace new technologies and ideas. Otherwise motorcycling and motorcycles will become even more a weekend hobby, an anachronism and not, as it should be, a valuable form of transport.

© Back Roads Rider 2011

5 Comments leave one →
  1. N. Caucescu permalink
    September 28, 2011 8:27 pm

    Well, BRR, that was a deafening silence. Almost like a fart in a Cathedral. No stream of comments informing you of your obvious move to the “dark side”? How frustrating to offer an alternative view and receive Nada, Niets, Nulla, Nothing in return. No Boyo to tell you how wrong you are and that the world is coming to an end. No dipstick stating that “united we stand.” and that you dare to question the tiny, tiny world of riders rights.

    The good thing is that in other parts of the world, the sun is shining – that’s a good thing but, people go about their daily lives, thinking about really banal stuff, like what if I haven’t got a job, what happens if the repossess my house, what if……… Do I, miserable person that I am, worry about legislation about motorcycles? No, not really, not in the grand scale of things.

  2. Back Roads Rider permalink*
    September 30, 2011 8:37 pm

    The silent majority remains silent!

    Hardly surprising but none the less worrying.

  3. Dave permalink
    October 3, 2011 9:45 am

    I think that you’ve mentioned the unmentionable BBR. The biking paradox which would impress Dr Who (as we’re talking ‘the Silence’). Bikers want to be taken seriously, bikers want bikes to be considered properly in transport planning and in not seen as merely ‘toys’ or hooligans to be dealt with by the police. But they don’t want any legislation etc to be implemented to ensure this happens…

    Bikes need to have proper emissions control if they’re to compete with cars. They need to offer safety systems which cars have as standard to allow people to using them to feel safe. They need to be seen (as they are in many Asian countries) as a viable alternative to the Ford Ka not as an alternative to the modified Subaru otherwise governments and the EU will continue to see them as irrelevant toys for the weekend.

  4. Charon permalink
    October 6, 2011 4:17 pm

    The protests on the 25th have produced “madness” and I find completely unforgiveable that one riders’ organisation has allowed the perpetuation of false information e.g. this video which has recently appeared

    It is diabolical – to the point of suggesting that ALL vehicles over seven years will now be banned from our roads etc etc etc

    What I find even more diabolical is that the BMF has a golden opportunity to provide some sense and sanity and put forward the real issues, instead – silence.

    MCN is now getting involved with plans to lead riders (with invitations to riders’ organisations from around Europe) on a demo to the EU parliament on November 22nd, based on more false information perpetuated by themselves and the UKIP MEP Marta Andreasen.

    The 22nd of November is the day that IMCO will vote on the amendments and report that will “eventually” go to parliament.

    It is the case I suppose that every nation/organisation deserves its leaders. In our case, it looks like every motorcyclist deserves – whether he/she likes it or not – the leaders of our riders’ organisations.

    Oh woe is us!


  1. El Camino – The Road

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