I received a second reply from Vince today. Here is what he said:
Your points about compulsion, not choice, are well made. As I understand it, you have no problem with ABS on bikes if it is an option.
I am reluctant to talk about instances of compulsion, such as seat belt laws or mandatory wearing of crash helmets for motorcyclists where there has been a road safety benefit. It is the compulsory fitting of ABS to new bikes we are addressing.
And I don’t believe we have taken a formal position on the other European moves you cite (compulsory high viz clothing and anti tampering measures).
“Increasing skills” and raising driver and rider standards are what you have signed up for over the last 19 years (apols for earlier error). Those principles are just as important whether or not your bike in future comes with ABS fitted as standard as I believe it is still possible to make riding errors even on bikes with the best spec. I really hope that our one news release declaring support of ABS on motorcycles won’t cause you to consider leaving the IAM.
And my reply to him this evening:
Hi VinceAs it is a safety organisation, I can see why the IAM supports everything from seat belts to ABS. What I can't get over is their support for the EU mandating this for everyone regardless of their wishes or needs. I don't want to be accused of tinfoil-hattery, but I can seriously see a situation developing where the EU (or any government) will say:
I really do appreciate your taking the time to make a substantive reply to my comments. You are correct in your first paragraph. I have no objection the ABS on bikes per se. I have had it on two bikes in the past and never once caused it to activate, apart from in informal testing. Neither of my current bikes has it, and I don't miss it. I pride myself on my forward planning and riding skills and hope that they keep me out of trouble. If I am wrong in that, then that is my concern and no-one else's. I would be pleased if ABS were an option on any bike where there was a demand for it. Freedom of choice applies to those who want ABS too. As long as it is an option, and not mandatory.
I cannot deny that there has been a road safety benefit in the laws on seat belts and crash helmets, although it is not as clear-cut as many would like to think. The reduction in KSI numbers for car occupants after the seat-belt law, for example, was accompanied by an increase in injuries and deaths for cyclists, pedestrians and other vulnerable road users. I am sure you are familiar with the concept of risk homeostasis or risk compensation. Seat belt laws, in effect, made life safer for car occupants and more dangerous for everyone else. On the other matter, I believe that anyone who doesn't wear a crash helmet is an utter fool - but I don't support compulsion there either. Your life; your choices.
I am pleased that the IAM has not yet taken a formal position on the other topics under discussion, such as compulsory hi-viz and anti-tampering, and I hope that perhaps the organisation will take a more anti-authoritarian view if these subjects are debated in your policy discussions. Governments will always interfere, firstly because they think they know better than everyone else how people should live their lives, and secondly because they can. This does not mean that private organisations such as the IAM should support them in that.
I doubt that we will agree on this matter, but I am grateful that you have given my remarks your attention and I hope that, if you have any input into the direction of IAM policy in the future, you will remember this exchange and realise that not all of your members are happy with the IAM's embracing of mandatory measures 'for our own good'. My membership is due for renewal next month and I shall probably let it continue, because I do support all the work the IAM does in promoting skills and high standards. But I am still unhappy that my fees and the fact of my membership are being used to support something which, philospohically and politically, I am dead against.
Thank you again, and apologies for the inordinate length of this reply.
Well, we made them have ABS and we made them wear high-visibility clothing. They took that OK. They took on board the message that motorcycling was inherently dangerous, and that technology and conspicuity (mitigating the consequences) rather than skill and intelligence (preventing dangerous situations developing in the first place) were the way to make it safer. They believed that we were 'experts' and knew best what is good for them. The next step is to convince them that no sensible person needs more than 80 bhp. And then 60. and then 40. And then we can help them achieve these greater safety benefits with remote throttle control to help them keep to speed limits (I am not making that bit up). When they are all doing 30 mph and slower than almost anything else on the road, but still getting wet and cold, they will start to give up this dangerous pastime altogether. After that, banning 'dangerous' motorcycles will be easy.
The 'salami-slice' method. It worked with smokers. I am not happy that the IAM is collaborating with it.