Spring is here and motorbike riders are dusting off their machines. They are more dangerous and pollute proportionately more than cars but because of their many advantages, especially in urban environments, the number of motorcycles on European roads has increased by more than 34% over the past 10 years. An Internal Market Committee hearing on 22 March agreed that current requirements should be updated to enhance safety and improve environmental performance.
Bike riders face a much higher risk of a fatal or serious accident than other drivers. Motorcycles and mopeds account for around 17% of all road fatalities but only 2% of road users. There was general agreement that safety includes rider awareness of the traffic and all road users. "Safety is composed of many aspects: it's not just what you have between two wheels, but also between two ears," according to Finnish S&D member Mitro Repo.
Wim van de Camp, who is drafting a report on the European Commission's proposal to update rules for mopeds, scooters and motorcycles, acknowledged the importance of human behaviour but "is determined to properly address the safety issues related to the technical features of the vehicle." And when it comes to the technology, "ABS seems to be the most efficient solution", said Luca Pascotto from the International Automobile Federation.
Among the technical suggestions to reduce accidents are:
ABS (anti-lock braking systems) or combined braking systems, depending on the size and type of vehicle, to provide better driving stability when braking and reduce the emergency braking distance.
Mandatory fitting of Automatic Headlamp On feature to improve the visibility of the bike and rider on the road.
Limit tampering (modifications of bikes to increase performance, particularly speed) that result in greater emissions and fuel consumption and reduce safety.
Many people believe that mopeds and motorcycles are environmentally-friendly, but emissions are "disproportionately high", said Mr van de Camp, and represent an increasing share in total road transport emissions, which are decreasing overall. "The data should be more clearly measured and given to customers and public authorities," Betrand-Olivier Ducreux from French environmental agency ADEME said.
Mr van de Camp supports the introduction of more severe emission limits and called on manufacturers to comply as soon as possible, but Antonio Perlot from the Motorcycle Industry in Europe (ACEM) doubted the industry's capacity to meet deadlines.
The Commission proposals aim to simplify current legislation to ensure greater efficiency and less burdensome adaptation to technical progress
Mr van de Camp's report is expected to be voted in the Internal Market Committee in October before going to plenary.