Gearing up for safer, greener motorbikes
Europe would benefit from proposed new rules for motorbike safety and environmental performance, but the industry's capacity to adapt will need to be taken into account, according to views expressed at a hearing in Parliament on Tuesday.
The hearing in Parliament internal market committee concerns a legislative proposal to update rules for "L" category vehicles, which include light powered two-wheeled vehicles from mopeds to motorbikes, as well as three-wheeled vehicles and quads.
Committee Chair Malcolm Harbour (ECR, UK) noted that the Commission proposal to improve safety and environmental performance also raises a number of economic issues. Rapporteur Wim van de Camp (EPP, NL) commented that the exact scope for new rules and the timetable for introducing new measures would be major points in the discussion.
"L" type vehicles represent 2% of distance travelled in the EU, but 16% of road deaths. Both rider behaviour and technical measures are critical factors. Luca Pascotto, from the Federation International de l'Automobile considered anti-lock braking systems (ABS) to be "a promising technology" that needed to be combined with updating driver's skills.
Patrice Assendelft, representing the Dutch Royal Motorbiker's Association (KNMV), stressed that the "human factor is the most important", adding that training can help riders develop a "sixth sense" to avoid emergency situations.
Bernd LANGE (S&D, DE) and Heide RÜHLE (Greens/EFA, DE) were interested in available cost benefit analysis of equipping bikes with ABS. Toine MANDERS (ALDE, NL) suggested that car drivers should also be trained on specifics of driving in motorbike traffic.
Bertrand-Oliver Ducreux presented French environmental agency ADEME's analysis of fuel consumption efficiency and durability of different classifications of bikes. Some fuel injection models were found to exceed current carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide emission limits.
Dirk Bosteels presented Association for Emissions Control by Catalyst (AECC) analysis, which also found vehicles to be exceeding emissions limits, especially as their mileage increased, due to the absence of durability requirements.
Industry views on new legislation
Representing the largest manufacturers association (ACEM), Antonio Perlot expressed support for the legislative proposal's goals but warned of the challenge faced by industry to meet deadlines. He pointed to the small-scale, fragmented nature of the motorbike industry and emphasised that the economic crisis had seen sales dip 25% over the last two years, compared to 6% for cars.
Jean-Ludovic Basset, speaking on behalf of after-market distributors (FIGIEFA), highlighted the importance of repairs, spare part sales and training. Over 100,000 are employed in this area in the EU. He said safety and environmental aspects need to be considered through the entire life cycle of vehicles, not only for manufacture.
The road ahead
The proposal will be voted in committee in October 2011 before it goes to the European Parliament plenary.
In the Chair: Malcolm Harbour (ECR, UK)