Motorcycling is alive and well – thanks to the European Union!
This article never made it onto Motorcycle Minds during the run up to the United Kingdom (England – Scotland – Wales – Northern Ireland) EU referendum.
We think it is well worth another look and update it with some fresh information and thoughts after the “Brexit” results.
EU Referendum and U.K. Motorcycling
Trevor and I (Motorcycle Minds) have been watching the EU referendum debate over the last few weeks and as the date to vote draws near, we have decided to “come out” with our position regarding the referendum.
It is very clear, we want the United Kingdom to remain within the European Union, because it is economically wise to do so, but more importantly with regards motorcycling – it offers the opportunity for this form of transport to flourish, expand and develop. We are pretty much fed up with all the hysteria that has taken over both sides of the debate.
So we will try to offer our views based on our experience working within the EU and the institutions as lobbyists for motorcycling issues.
100 Brake Horse Power (bhp) and the EU – Fact or Fiction?
Riders from across Europe protested in Paris at the 1994 fourth “Euro Demo”, against a proposed directive and other aspects of a proposed multi-directive which were seen to be “anti-motorcycling”.
However, there appears to be misleading comments regarding EU directives, in particular, with regards to the 100 Brake Horse Power (bhp) directive.
Simply, there was a proposal from the EU Commission to introduce the 100 bhp for motorcycles which sources suggest was actually a French Government proposal. The Commission decided to leave the choice of a 100 bhp (74kW) limit to individual member states (MS) through a derogation in the 1995 directive (1)
A study by TNO was subsequently published and provided evidence that there was no link between MC casualties and BHP, thus there was no new legislative measures proposed, but the derogation remained and that allowed the French government to continue with their 100 bhp restriction in place and allowed any other member state at any time to introduce power limits in their country.
TNO report Motorcycle power 74 kW study pdf 117kb
As far as we am aware, the only MS that decided to have a 100 bhp limit was in fact France. In other words nobody defeated the 100 bhp directive, because it never happened. With the latest Type Approval regulations, the 100 bhp limits have been completely removed and France will have to comply. With the caveat with the fitting of ABS brakes – but that’s a French issue which the French came up with all by themselves. See notes from Trevor Baird when he was FEMA’s Technical Officer in 2008.
Type Approval for motorcycles and the EU Commission
With regards the threat of anti-tampering which was the cause of considerable angst amongst motorcyclists in Europe, on 22nd November 2011, a representative of DG Enterprise and Industry commented that “the position of the Commission is that (..) useful modifications will be dealt with through the member states either through type approval or SVA as is the case today. In general the anti-tampering measures will be limited only to prevent harmful modifications of the powertrain with regards to the functional safety and environmental performance of vehicles. (e.g. drilling holes in the exhaust pipe or modifying an exhaust for the purpose it was not intended for).
Customising vehicles will also remain possible after the new legal package to approve vehicles will become applicable and the national SVA schemes dealing with modifications of individual vehicles in the Member States will continue to exist as they do today”. See article “Is The Sky Falling in?”
Did the Sky Fall In?
On Tuesday 20th November 2012 the European Parliament voted on the Commission’s proposal for the approval and market surveillance of 2 or 3 wheeled vehicles and quadricycles aka the Type Approval proposal. Prior to the vote, there was a joint debate in the European Parliament on Monday 19th November 2012.
When we were active as Right To Ride, we were asked about the procedure that led to the “final vote” whether this was legal and whether MEPs, not just English speaking MEPs from other member states would be able to vote. The simple answer was yes. Two factors came from our conversations and correspondence with those involved in the procedure in Brussels: one is that procedurally there was no issue of tyranny or lack of democracy by denying transparency to MEPs regarding their right to vote. The second and most important is that motorcycle organisations and individual motorcyclists were involved in the debate.
As we wrote back in March 2011 in reference to an Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee (IMCO) public hearing on the proposal:
“We have given our opinions, reported on the issue and attempted to give space to others’ opinions. However there seems to be a parallel universe that includes what the actual issues are, how we interpret these issues, how others interpret these issues and then how this interpretation is used to advance agendas, positions and even self interest”.
Just to be clear, for motorcyclists who call for an exit (Brexit) from the European Union due to the fear of a ban on motorcycling or limitations to the future of motorcycling etc etc. Can we just make the point that these are misguided statements. Accordingly, we would like to offer what would be a Brexit alternative….
The Brexit Alternative
For those that are of the opinion that it would be best to throw the whole regulation proposal out, they need to consider the alternative i.e. what would happen without these regulations.
French riders would not have the bikes over 100bhp ban lifted (see above).
There would be no requirement on manufacturers to publish repair information for individual and private repairers.
Manufacturers would not be required to label CO2 emissions and thus preventing governments from reducing or excluding road tax to those PTWs that have low emissions.
The process of gradual introduction of cleaner engines through the Euro 4- 5 -6 stages would be binned and the process of durability of these vehicles would have no control. While this may not have a significant effect on the European manufacturers as they have already been developing cleaner and more durable motorcycles, it would mean that cheap, polluting and unsafe imports would be allowed into Europe, because there would not be any regulation to stop them.
Some could argue that the A2 Category medium powered bikes would not have to have “anti-tampering” measures, but with a minimum restriction limited to the engine management (because that is all that is required), any so-called anti-tampering measure would in any case be only applicable to the engine management simply because this category of motorcycle can be de-restricted from 35Kw to 70Kw (and vice versa). In other words, there was never any intention to ban modifications of these motorcycles. Simply the intent was to prevent unauthorised people from increasing the kilowatts of the A2 category motorcycle.
Although Advanced Brake Systems (Antilock Brakes – (ABS) Combined Braking Systems (CBS) would not be mandatorily introduced on those motorcycles over 125cc (excluding trail bikes and enduros), contrary to the hype circulated, manufacturers have and always have had the option of including a switch and there was nothing in the proposal to ban a switch to turn on or off ABS. However, what would continue is the artificially high price of ABS that manufacturers add on to bikes, limiting choice for those riders wishing to have this option.
Automatic Headlights On (AHO) would not be mandatory, but as there has already been voluntary AHO from 2003, it would not make any difference from already being on every bike produced by the major manufacturers.
We can’t do any more than point out what we know to be correct in terms of the effect that an exit from the EU would mean to our little corner of the world (motorcycling). We certainly can’t make people vote one way or another, but we can end our article with this comment:
Be careful what you wish for!
Trevor Baird and Elaine Hardy PhD
Footnote – Just Not The Case!
The outcome of the “Brexit” referendum saw the wishes granted for about 52% of the United Kingdom citizens who voted – with Northern Ireland and Scotland independently voting to remain in Europe (but that is a whole different story).
Meanwhile the stricter Emissions of Euro 5 and of sound emission provisions (changes in sound levels and how they are measured) for motorcycles get discussed by governments at UNECE – World Forum for Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (WP.29) and at the European Commissions – Motorcycle Working Group – MCWG – both made up of government representatives – experts – non-governmental organisations – industry – with UNECE having representation from around the globe – Contracting Parties (member countries) eg China – Russian Federation- United States of America – Japan – India – Republic of Korea etc.
These discussions include but are not limited to:
- Noise emissions of mopeds – Replacement exhaust silencing systems for motorcycles
- Provisions and for pass -by noise tests of vehicle in-use – during roadside checks and periodic technical inspections
- Work proposed to be undertaken to address the environmental and propulsion unit performance requirements of two-and three-wheeled motor vehicles, among others as a way to help improve air quality internationally.
So while one might think that out of Europe means no regulations from Europe on motorcycles, that is just not the case! Europe itself has acceded to certain UNECE technical regulations for the basis of “law making” for European Directives and Regulations as regards vehicle regulations.
The MCWG will eventually at some stage see the UK not participating (exit Brexit) but possibly like Norway, at present sitting in as an observer now and again at meetings.
(1) “National legislation may permit Member States to refuse the initial registration and any subsequent registration within their territory of vehicles with a maximum net power of more than 74 kW.” which the French government embraced. However the directive also said that – “Within two years of the adoption of this Directive the Commission shall carry out a comprehensive new study to establish whether there is a link between accidents and maximum engine power above 74 kW. The study shall collate and evaluate the latest scientific research findings and carry out appropriate new research with a view to establishing definitive policy recommendations on this subject. On the basis of the study’s conclusions, the Commission shall, if necessary, propose new legislative measures.”