EU BANS Bikes?
23rd December 2011
A couple of months back, we at Right To Ride wrote to José Manuel Barroso, President of the European Commission regarding the European Commission’s proposal – Approval and market surveillance of two – or three-wheel vehicles and quadricycles.
At that time the European Commission’s proposal was being discussed within the IMCO Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) European Parliament committee of MEPs, riders in the UK and Ireland riders had held demonstrations against the Commission’s proposal. A demonstration by Motorcycle News (MCN), a UK weekly motorcycle publication, was also planned to ride to Brussels – which took place in November against the proposal.
There was a lot of angst amongst riders in the UK, regarding issues surrounding the proposal on the internet, especially on social networking pages – forums and in the motorcycle press.
Equally, there was misunderstanding amongst riders of what was contained in the proposal, many believed (and still believe) that the Commission’s proposal included the banning of filtering through traffic, banning motorcycles over 7yrs old in Urban areas and the compulsory wearing of Hi-Viz clothing.
Most of this angst surfaced as anti-European Union rhetoric that the proposal was part of the EU’s attempts to completely remove motorcyclists from EU roads – there was concern that the EU was trying to ban bikes!
In our letter to the President of the European Commission José Manuel Barroso, we laid out constructively the issues surrounding the Commission’s proposal, as well as our concerns regarding some of the text contained in the European Commission Road Safety website “Specialist Knowledge page on Powered Two Wheelers” which states:
- “Riding a PTW is also much more dangerous than using another motor vehicle.”
- “Discouraging or restricting the use of PTWs may be more acceptable if alternatives are made more attractive.”
We pointed out in our letter, that while we appreciated that there are a lot of important issues being dealt with by the European Commission, these motorcycle issues are just as important to motorcyclists here in Northern Ireland (31,250 approx.), Ireland (36,000 approx.), Great Britain (1.5million approx.) and indeed throughout the whole of Europe (33.5 million approx.).
We called for clarification from the Commission that would allay the fears of the European Motorcycle Citizen. We asked for a statement that the European Commission is not attempting to completely remove motorcyclists from EU roads and asked what the Commission’s position regarding motorcycles (Powered Two Wheeler – PTW – Mopeds – Scooters – Motorcycles) is.
ReplyWe have now received a detailed reply which was filtered down to the Head of Unit for Road Safety at the European Commission, Isabelle Kardacz who replied to us on behalf of the President of the Commission.Her reply was to the point. She stated “Let me make it very clear that the Commission’s position concerning the use of motorcycles and mopeds is not, and has never been, to ‘remove motorcyclist from EU roads’.However expanding in her reply to our questions she added:“As you are certainly aware of, accident statistics show that motorcycle users have a risk of dying or being seriously injured greater than users of four wheel vehicles. And this is also the case for cyclists and pedestrians.This greater risk is certainly related to the fact that these road users are not protected by the vehicle and therefore are more vulnerable in case of an accident.This is why the Commission has set as a priority for its action to improve road safety for motorcyclists and other vulnerable road users.EU action on road safety aims at reducing the high number of casualties or fatalities, which result in so much suffering and represent such an important economic cost. For this, a variety of measures have been adopted and more will follow in the future.These measures may concern various aspects of road safety like vehicle technology, training and licensing of drivers or improved infrastructure, but they are certainly not oriented towards limiting the use of motorcycles, as they are not aimed at limiting the use of any type of vehicle.”She added that, “I hope this clarifies the situation.”This was the Commission’s response to our questions.Whether you disagree with this response or try to analyse the reply, or read between any unwritten lines, the EU Commission states that its position concerning the use of motorcycles and mopeds has never been and is not to remove motorcyclist from EU roads, nor has been oriented towards limiting the use of motorcycles.
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