If the freedom of speech is taken away then dumb and silent we may be led, like sheep to the slaughter.

- George Washington

Friday, 23 September 2011

EU Hands Off Biking

MAG (Motorcycle Action Group) are holding a nationwide day of protest on Sunday 25 September. The reason is a mass of EU proposals that are due to be debated soon in Brussels, some of which would alter the nature of motorcycling permanently, and not for the better. I'll leave MAG themselves to explain:
A raft of issues emanating from Europe will have a profound effect on riders and the motorcycle industry generally. We must stand up and be heard. Some of these are driven by the EU Commission, like the new Type Approval and Market Surveillance Regulation that will see the introduction of compulsory ABS, the sealing of powertrains from the airbox, through the engine to the final drive (including the diameter and aspect ratio of the rear tyre), restrictions on the aftermarket industry, possible roadside checks by police or other government agencies to inspect emissions, detect owner 'tuning' and more.

There's EU-funded development of electronics to control and govern speeds through warning systems or, ultimately, actual throttle control.

Ireland plans compulsory, full sleeve day-glo jackets for riders and pillions, France is debating compulsory reflective/day-glo clothing. Will UK insurance companies start saying that because we weren't dressed in day-glo it's our own fault that an inattentive driver drove into us? MAG says the onus should not be on the victim.

France also wants to ban bikes over 7 years old from urban areas for environmental reasons! Their congestion is already terrible and putting more riders into cars that pollute terribly when they are stationary, is bonkers.

Bikes are part of the urban transport solution, not problem.

Enough! There will be a vote by the MEP committee discussing the above Regulation on Oct 17th. We need them to listen. They're meant to represent us. MAG and many others in the motorcycle community are negotiating hard with our own Government and our European representatives, but in the meantime;

Join us to keep EU Hands Off Biking, it's time for Action now!
The idea is to start from a service area at 1 pm, ride at 45 mph for 20 minutes, and then disperse. It seems a good idea - fast enough not to hold people up, short enough not to be a nuisance (the last thing we need is to piss off the people who might support us), and yet seen by many people on the motorway network. Away from the motorways, people are meeting at cafés and car parks and going on an equivalent local route. The nearest to me starts at the Little Chef at St Clears on the A40. A full list of the meeting points (still being updated) is here.

I am working all day on the 25th, so I will not be able to join in, but I will be there in spirit. I know a lot of local bikers will be there. If you can spare half an hour and support the campaign, urge you to get to one of these meets and show your support.

I've been dithering about joining MAG for a long time, so now my penance for non-attendance will be to join up, pay my dues, and get involved. It will be the next thing I do, after I press 'Publish' on this post.

UPDATE: a letter from Peter Skinner MEP, posted on the MAG Facebook page:
I want to take this opportunity to wish you the best of luck for Sunday’s ‘day of action’ across the South East and the UK. Biking has a rich history in the South East and we’re all familiar with the sight of columns of motorcycles making their way to the coast on bank holiday weekends. I know that for many of you biking is a passion and one of the greatattractions is the freedom and individuality it offers. We need to becareful not to overregulate and I will be working with MAG in the South East and in the European Parliament to make sure your voices are heard. Some of the proposals being floated at the moment are clearly over the top and would be unfair and unrealistic. We need a common sense approach here and that’s what I’ll be telling Brussels over the coming weeks. I’m told MAG are organising a lobby of the European Parliament in October so hopefully I’ll have a chance to meet with some of you then if not before.

Best of luck Peter Skinner MEP
Not all bastards, then.


  1. ".....compulsory reflective/day-glo ......"

    I think that's a good idea, and will make a tremendous improvement to visibility & road safety.

    Of course it'll have to apply to all cars. Buyers should have a choice though - Yellow or Pink. Maybe MAG could suggest it to the legislators?

  2. Pink dayglo lorries ... great idea. 'Be safe, be seen', after all ...

  3. "Of course it'll have to apply to all cars."

    Eventually, everything does, through target creep. This story about the
    teams of "eco-marshals" looks like it's just about taxis. Until you read a bit further.

  4. I have to say I agree with the idea of getting idling vehicles to turn their engines off. It drives me mad - taxis at a cab rank in my town can sit there for half an hour at a time with their engines running. It's noisy, it stinks, and it's a waste. It's not as if it doesn't affect other people, either. I can understand it for refrigerated lorries who need to keep the compressors running, but why someone would leave an engine running to no purpose is a mystery.

    But the general principle of the comment is correct: all these proposed changes apply only to bikes, which would appear to be discriminatory.

  5. "...but why someone would leave an engine running to no purpose is a mystery."

    Given it's costing them money, there must be a reason for it.

  6. Stopping and starting an engine uses more fuel than leaving it ticking over.

    For taxis, which by their very nature, "park and go" on a regular basis, this, leaving the engine running is an obvious advantage.

  7. "Stopping and starting an engine uses more fuel than leaving it ticking over."

    If that were true, we would all leave our cars ticking over all night. For short periods it may be more economical to leave the engine running, but I seem to recall that the period is only a matter of a minute or so. Traffic lights - leave it running; road works, turn it off. It's not the guys running their diesels for a few minutes that bother me, though. It's the taxi drivers who will sit with the engine running, making noise and fumes, for an hour at a time at a taxi rank. I suppose there may be a benefit in winter by keeping the heater warm, but perhaps they could just wear an extra jumper.

    "Given it's costing them money, there must be a reason for it."

    Taxi driver and reason don't necessarily belong in the same sentence, though.

  8. Just seen this on youtube as i am no biker, but the EU has pulled some awful shit lately.

    Hope you do well, these regulations just sound pathetic.


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