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European Bandwagon Moves Against Motorcycling - March 30th 2006


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    The Motorcycle Action Group (MAG) has condemned the latest EU decision on motorcycle licensing which has shown the bureaucrats in their true colours. MAG says, "This is total war!"

    The EU has rammed through the Directive in a way that shows contempt for motorcyclist's views. They want bikes off the road. The safety bureaucrats have become target obsessed, setting accident reduction targets using statistics that are baloney.

    They have totally lost a sense of balance between riders' reasonable expectations for mobility and the prevention of accidents.

    To real enthusiasts who would clear any hurdle to get a licence it might seem inconceivable that legislation would really stop anyone getting on two wheels but past experience proves otherwise.

    The trouble is that the safety bureaucrats know that not all riders are enthusiasts, they know that many people will be put off by a draconian training regime, so that is what they have concocted. This isn't rocket science but it is effective. The 1981 Transport Act in the UK sent bike sales into freefall and these people know that and want to produce the same effect across Europe.

    Many riders who already have licenses might question why they should care. MAG cares because MAG always takes the long view. MAG defends motorcycling and recognises that the licence directive is just one weapon in the safety bureaucrat's armoury that is designed to stop young people taking up motorcycling. There is no limit to the zealots' appetite for accident reduction, they are pursuing a 50% reduction in road accident fatalities by 2010 and they see motorcyclists as an obstacle to achieving that.

    European Commission Vice President Jacques Barrot recently stated, "We have 6% more deaths since the year 2000 caused by motorbikes. We have to take very targeted action there."

    His biased statement conflicts with research which indicates that the primary blame for accidents with motorcycles and other vehicles lies with the other vehicle driver at least 40% of the time. Given that it is MAG's opinion that the emphasis should be on other vehicle drivers yet the directive does not address car drivers via the licensing "regime" for these vehicles.

    MAG suspects that the extremists in the road safety lobby cannot be appeased on the basis of accident reduction alone, they have to be philosophically and politically defeated. We have to be more determined to preserve biking than they are to destroy it.

    MAG defends the right to ride motorcycles and we will protect for that right forever. We are now engaged in a game of survival of the most determined and the European Commission is going to learn how determined MAG is.

    1. The motorcycle part of the directive will mean that:

  1. The minimum age for riding bikes over 125cc/11kW but less than 35kW rises from 17 to 19.
  2. The minimum age for riding bikes of over 35kW rises to 21.
  3. For Progressive Access there will be rigid two-year steps between categories A1 (Light Motorcycle), A2 (less than 35kW Motorcycle) and A (Unlimited Motorcycle).
  4. Riders will be required to take either a minimum number of hours of training or a practical motorcycle test to progress from each category.
  5. For Direct Access where riders can train and test to qualify for over 35kW motorcycles the minimum age will rise from 21 to 24. With a possible derogation upwards on age from 24 by member states, (To be confirmed)
  6. Minimum Test Vehicle specifications will not be democratically decided and may include minimum engine capacities of 600cc for category A2 and 800cc for category A. This flexibility empowers individual European countries to introduce age requirements which really makes a mockery of the whole concept of a European harmonized motorcycle licence without evidence for safety benefits and at this stage are due to be implemented by 2012.
  7. Details of full licensing regime from the European Commission Directorate General for Energy and Transport at www.network.mag-uk.org/dld/2006_memo_driving_licence_en.pdf

    Review MAG's report on the directive at www.network.mag-uk.org/dld/MAGDLDReport270306.pdf

    MAG reiterates its call for the motorcycle part of the directive to receive a full Second Reading in the European Parliament complete with a Conciliation Committee being convened with the view to deleting the motorcycling proposals from the directive and working to address the real issues of motorcycle safety.

    MAG calls riders and MEPs to support the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) Motorcycle Public Meeting to be held at Salisbury City Hall, Sunday 23rd April. Poster available at www.network.mag-uk.org/dld/riders.doc