Despite last-ditch efforts to head-off the adoption of stringent new EC driving licence regulations, the BMF is warning that without a miraculous change of fortune, motorcycling is about to face it's biggest threat ever.
This follows a recent transport committee meeting at the EU Parliament in Brussels where, despite several amendments being submitted to moderate the motorcycling proposals of the 3rd EC Driving Licence Directive, only some procedural amendments submitted by the Rapporteur Matthieu Grosch were accepted. After voting on the amendments, the final vote for the substantive Directive was to accept it by 31 votes to 2 against and 2 abstentions.
It will now be considered by a plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg on 12th December when an amendment to reject the whole directive will be put by UK Conservative MEP Phillip Bradbourn, 'but the outcome is not hopeful' said the BMF's Senior Government Relations Executive, Trevor Magner.
Known as the TRAN Committee, the only members of the Committee to speak for motorcyclists were Philip Bradbourn and Dutch MEP, Mrs Wortmann-Kool. Their amendments related to direct access; limiting the age that member states could choose for moped licences; eliminating one of the extra tests on progressive access and removing minimum engine capacities for minimum test vehicles. Mr Bradbourn also tabled a proposal to declare medical condition as an alternative to mandatory medical checks. The meeting was witnessed by FEMA General Secretary, Aline Delhaye, Trevor Magner BMF, Trevor Baird MAG UK and Wim Taal MAG Netherlands.
Rapporteur Matthieu Grosch now wants to progress the Directive so that it will be implemented by member states by 2012.
"In spite of the BMF having written to every MEP, there was a display of ignorance about motorcycling that beggars belief," said the BMF's Trevor Magner. "No note has been taken of an improving safety record or of the European MAIDS study that proved that the majority of bike accidents are caused by other drivers." In what has been a difficult and complex fight he added, "I fear the implications for the future of motorcycling are dire. Through its costs and complexity, this directive will be a big disincentive to anyone considering taking up motorcycling."
The BMF will be supporting FEMA in asking national motorcycling organisations to again lobby MEPs to call for rejection at the plenary session, but there is little prospect of the Council of Ministers rejecting the Directive since despite the BMF's massive postcard campaign to UK Transport Minister Stephen Ladyman, the UK Government is unlikely to object.