MEPs approve motorbike safety rules
on 20/11/2012 18:20:14
After two years of negotiations and revisions, the planned legislation will mean safer, greener motorbikes, three-wheelers and quad bikes, according to the British Conservative MEP who steered the plans through the European Parliament.
Malcolm Harbour, chairman of the European Parliament's internal market and consumer protection committee, welcomed a 643-16 show of support for measures including mandatory anti-lock braking (ABS) on powerful motorbikes, advanced braking on scooters, tougher exhaust emissions targets, and basic on-board diagnostics.
A bid by the European Commission to oblige all bike makers to build in "anti-tampering" measures to avoid high-speed modifications was watered down to apply only to bikes for young or inexperienced riders, where power or speed is already restricted.
The plans, still needing approval from EU governments, are due to be in force for all new two and three-wheeled and quad bikes - "L-category" vehicles - sold from 2016.
Quad bikes used exclusively off-road, such as on farms, will be exempt - although "higher-speed" tractors will require ABS.
Mr Harbour said: "This vote is the culmination of a great deal of listening to biking enthusiasts so that we could put in place a law that makes two, three and four-wheeled machines safer and cleaner, without ruining their cherished hobby.
"This new type approval framework will secure the future of motorbiking for a generation.
"There has been significant scaremongering about the purpose behind this law. It was simply to make 15 outdated laws setting technical standards into one current law, which will be easier for manufacturers to decipher. We always had at heart the best interests of millions of people across Europe for whom biking is a way of life."
Labour MEP Catherine Stihler said the new rules would help prevent motorcycling deaths, and insisted that "riders will still be able to customise and modify the bikes they already own, so long as they don't affect safety or the environmental performance of the vehicle".
She went on: "Every single dead motorcyclist is one too many. Raising safety standards is our main concern.
"Also, new emission reduction measures will result in much more efficient, cleaner vehicles entering the market.
"Over 30 million vehicles labelled as L-category circulate around Europe and their drivers face a much higher risk of fatal or serious injuries than drivers of cars or trucks.
But UK Independence Party MEP Marta Andreasen said the proposed rules should be scrapped: "This will be a hugely unpopular piece of legislation. The only people that stand to gain are manufacturers by increasing the costs of vehicles, but if people are put off buying new vehicles because of increased prices it will be a pyrrhic victory.
"Additionally, anti-tampering removes the freedom of choice. It is not up to Brussels to decide what tweaks or customisation bikers make to their vehicles - provided they of course meet the existing and perfectly adequate rules and supervisory bodies that we already have in place in the UK.
"Nobody, much less the biking fraternity, wants this pointless and deeply interfering law. The motorcycle sector has managed perfectly well for decades without such draconian Brussels interference."