Europe – Would you switch your motorcycle for a car?
According to results of an emissions survey carried out by the Federation of European Motorcyclists Associations (FEMA) in August 2016 of 5,402* European motorcyclists, they have concerns that riders may abandon motorcycling and switch to using a car instead.
The results of the survey are contained in a recent article by FEMA – Low-emission zones and city bans could force motorcyclists into cars – the article begins with (the title) the comment “It is feared that motorcyclists who are no longer allowed to commute on their low-cost, pre-2006 motorcycles, may abandon motorcycling and switch to using a car instead. This could have serious consequences for urban traffic, congestion and pollution”.
With vehicle emissions a concern across Europe, city authorities are having to clean up their city air, they have already or are considering banning, restricting or charging older motorcycles during certain times for traveling within congestion zones in inner cities – these bans, restrictions or charges are already implemented in many cities for cars-vans – lorries.
These claimed emission reducing actions focus on motorcycles (two and three wheelers) built in 2006 or earlier whose emissions are less than a European (Euro 3) emission standard. These Euro standards (Euro 1) were implemented in 1997 to reduce pollutant emissions from motorcycles (two and three-wheel vehicles.
By 2020 all motorcycles, depending on their size, will have to meet Euro 4 or Euro 5 emission standards, keeping up with other vehicle emission standards. ACEM, the motorcycle industry manufacturers’ representative in Europe, has stated that moving from Euro 3 to Euro 5 will reduce overall motorcycle emissions by around 50 percent ACEM – Environment , achieving the goal of parity with Euro 5 gasoline passenger cars, although it is assumed that after 2020 there would be more stringent emissions proposed across all vehicles.
This could lead to more bans, restrictions or charges to motorcycles that do not meet emission requirements. Indeed, there appears to be a view that in the long term ALL fossil fuel vehicles will be banned from inner cities.
Meanwhile the FEMA report of the survey lays out the results by commenting that if motorcyclists abandon their bikes for cars that this “Could have serious consequences for urban traffic, congestion and pollution.”
They go on to comment that, “The current focus of European mobility strategies is on public transport, cycling and walking.” Followed by “Public transport will never reach every urban area and cycling and walking are only good for limited distances.” and something we agree with, “There will always be a need for individual motorised personal transport.”
FEMA completes their analysis of the results of the five questions, stating that they foresee a growing role for powered two-wheelers, especially motorcycles in urban mobility with the qualifying statement that, “Motorcycles are smaller and lighter than cars and are able to keep moving where cars are stuck in traffic, which means they use less fuel, they pollute less and they save travelling time. Motorcycles provide the greatest flexibility of all means of personal transport, because they offer the freedom to travel where and when you want to.”
Emissions Survey Results
The aim of the FEMA emissions survey – or rather questionnaire – was to find out if the average motorcycle commuter would be willing to invest in a new(er) motorcycle to keep commuting and to find out how the European rider feels about buying and riding a non-emissions bike.
According to the article, the results were as follows:
- If environmental restrictions would only allow for light, high-tech but low-power-output motorcycles (less than 60 brake horsepower), a small majority would still keep riding. A small majority of motorcyclists could even imagine enjoying the ride on a non-emissions bike.
- But, a staggering 87% would not be willing to invest in a more expensive non-emissions bike. If fossil fuel vehicles were ever banned from entering the city, 76% would rather change transport mode than buy a non-emissions bike. This outcome could have serious consequences for urban traffic, congestion and pollution.
- Of 2,364 riders, around 43% indicated that they would buy a newer motorcycle, if in the scenario that city authorities would suddenly ban older motorcycles from entering the city.
This is where in our opinion the questionnaire starts to fall down, as it was short (five questions) – and presented in such a way that the respondent did not have a choice of either not replying (all questions were mandatory) or simply answering “I don’t know”. Furthermore, the analysis was effectively an extrapolation which went well beyond the responses given and seemed more a reflection of FEMA’s assumptions.
For example we know that 5,402 people from 30 countries took part in the questionnaire, how many were men or women and their age group, with the majority (40%) in the 46-60 year bracket. However, we don’t know from which country the respondents came from, the style, type or engine size of bike they ride or what type of motorcycle licence they hold and the exact age of their bike, which is a basic first case series of questions to ask in any motorcycle questionnaire.
Based on the assumption that all the respondents are “commuters”, there was in our opinion, a crucial question missing and that was to ask how many trips the rider actually rode his or her bike in a week or month etc and whether it was to work or for other reasons.
We did ask FEMA on their Facebook page if it would be possible for them to publish the full survey results or was that all the results on the linked FEMA website article.
Certainly it would appear that if we quantify in this instance an electric motorcycle as, “a more expensive non-emission bike” they are more expensive to purchase, even with purchase incentives:
- United Kingdom – £1,500 government grant (Edit: 20% of the cost of a motorcycle, up to a maximum of £1,500 – via Gov.UK)
- Austria – Austrian residents are eligible for € 1.000 combined E-Mobility discounts. – Ends 6/30/2017.
- Belgium – Eligible for 15% tax credit
- France – € 1.000 government grant
- Munich – Germany – München e-mobil € 1.000 Rebate available
- Germany – 10 years vehicle tax exemption
- Monaco – Eligible for government subsidy, 30% of the purchase price + taxes, up to € 3.000.
Source – Zero Motorcycles
However our main issue, is not necessarily with the simplicity of the questionnaire, it’s with the “wing and a prayer” extrapolation, from the answers that FEMA has made available to comment on. The most extraordinary claim made is “the fear that riders may abandon motorcycling and switch to using a car instead”.
Nowhere can we see this reflected in the responses.
The responses of riders in the questionnaire indicated that they would not be willing to invest in a more expensive non-emissions bike. Furthermore, if fossil fuel vehicles were ever banned from entering cities, the responses indicated that they would rather change transport mode than buy a non-emissions bike.
There does not appear to be any question about what that other transport mode would be, it seems that FEMA has made a leap of faith from the responses to their somewhat simple questionnaire, i.e. abandoning motorcycles for a car. It is not clear how FEMA arrived at the conclusion of fearing that motorcyclists would change their life-style so dramatically. Fear is a very intriguing topic.
What interests us is whether you as a rider would give up motorcycling either to commute or simply travel from A to B, to be stuck in a car? Do you already use different transport modes or combination of walking – cycling – public transport (train/bus/ Metro/Trams) – Car – Taxis – Uber – other vehicles depending on the weather or other circumstances?
As FEMA previously stated to European City authorities, Our message to city authorities: motorcycles are the answer! “Use your imagination to solve your problems, but do not pester motorcyclists who come into your city to work, to study, to visit family and friends or to spend their money in your shops and restaurants.”
In the same article, FEMA’s General Secretary Dolf Willigers, gave examples of problem solving and thus one solution to city authorities:
“Create park&ride facilities for motorcycles, with lockers and a secure parking space. I wouldn’t mind much to switch from motorcycle to public transport at the border of Brussels, it is not a hobby for me to grapple with wet cobblestones, potholes and overcrowded roads, but now it’s just not possible.
Perhaps the answer is that depending on whether you need to commute in areas that are subject to emissions restrictions or bans, you adapt. If you can’t afford a new bike, you use public transport. If you really care about motorcycling – you know – and we know, that you’ll find a way.
That’s what makes riders special.
* A total of 5,402 people from 30 countries took part in the FEMA survey (270 women and 5,132 men).
NB: In 2014 FEMA conducted a mobility test from 14 European cities which demonstrated that if riders want to save time and money, they should use a PTW – (Powered Two Wheeler – Moped – Scooter – Motorcycle) while also contributing to improving mobility and reducing congestion – FEMA Mobility Test 2014 – Save time and money: use a bike! (This test will be repeated in 2017 in conjunction with FIM Europe to support claims of how great powered two wheelers are for urban mobility).
FEMA Original Article – Low-emission zones and city bans could force motorcyclists into cars
Other Sources – FEMA – Our message to city authorities: motorcycles are the answer! – Motorcycle Minds – FEMA – Emissions Survey
Peugeot Scooter Commute – Commuting into London from Herts on a Peugeot Scooter