Brussels – Motorcycling Still Fun!

On the 28th and 29th June Right To Ride attended, what was hailed, as the 1st International Motorcyclists Conference in Brussels, organized by FEMA (Federation of European Motorcyclists Associations) in partnership with the Canadian and Australian motorcycling associations and the European Commission.

The Conference was also the launch of the European Motorcyclists Forum by the European Commission’s, Madame Isabelle Kardacz, Head of the European Commission Road Safety Unit.

 

The objective of the Motorcyclists Forum was to give the users of PTWs (motorcycles – scooters and mopeds) the opportunity to put their views directly to the research community and the decision makers.

Conference

The conference started with the Round Table “Motorcycling of the 21st Century”. This was followed throughout the next two days with numerous presentations which covered a multitude of issues relating to safety, risk, technology, attitude, behaviour, road infrastructure and electric motorcycles.

For Right To Ride the most important question was whether the EU Road Safety Unit wished to comment on the Knowledge base Europa website which contained statements to the effect that motorcycles are dangerous and should be restricted and discouraged. The reason for this question was to understand whether the Commission was effectively serious in its dialogue with riders.

After an exchange of views, there was no direct response to the question, although conversations held later on, clarified the situation – which was that we should see the Commission’s Road Safety website changed to enable stakeholders to contribute to the contents.

Groundbreaking

Did the conference offer anything new or groundbreaking, or was it just another talking shop?

The session on electric motorcycles was certainly groundbreaking. The remainder was interesting and gave everybody an opportunity to discuss the positive aspects of policy, research, the environment, changes in attitude towards riders and their needs, etc.

But as I sat there, I recalled another International Motorcyclists Conference organised six years ago in Prague – the 4th International Public Policy Conference, organised by the FIM in conjunction with FEMA

In that conference, there was far more input from the riders on issues that were only briefly mentioned at this “1st” International Motorcyclists Conference in Brussels and that was training.

At the Prague Conference in 2004, the Initial Rider Training project was launched.

“FEMA was also pleased to introduce the EU co-funded project that the Federation is undertaking jointly with FIM and ACEM starting in September. The objective is to develop a European model including best practices for training schools to efficiently prepare candidate motorcyclists before they get their bike licence”.

The Initial Rider Training project has now been completed and the resulting programme ready for use. The Commission is now translating this programme into various European languages for distribution.

Four years later in Norway, the ITF/OECD Motorcycle Workshop set out a list of 20 top priorities – pdf155kb – for motorcycling the first of which was Training programmes:

“Countries have different training needs, based on their vehicle fleet and training resources. Motorcycle training should therefore build on existing standards, focus on risk awareness and risk avoidance, and develop an understanding of the rider/motorcycle capacities and limitations”.

Discussions

All the discussions about warning gadgets, clothing, behavioural studies etc which took up the greater part of the conference are secondary and subordinate to good basic training and good advanced training.

So, 1st, 4th or 5th conference – it doesn’t really matter, what does matter is that we welcome and encourage dialogue with our policy makers and we are always supportive of initiatives by our fellow riders to promote motorcycling, whether it’s in Europe, the UK or anywhere in the world.

Looking Forward

As Eric Thollier from FFMC (Riders Group in France) said “We are what we are and where we are!”

What we would suggest for the next Motorcycle Forum, is to have a good think about the core issue – the rider – how we can improve his or her ability to understand hazard awareness, road craft, the dangers out on the road etc.  All that basic stuff so that we can enjoy the most amazing invention of the 19th Century in the 21st Century and beyond.

However the best comment came from a representative of the EU Commission who said that, as citizens we all have rights but we have a duty to share the roads, but she also said “Fun is not evil”.

We agree – we have rights and responsibilities to ride safely within the law, but motorcycling is fun, we all know that and it is nice to know that some of our policy makers recognise this.

Links

View Right To Rides opinion on the European Motorcyclists Forum Click Here

1st International Motorcyclists Conference – www.fema-online.eu

Conference presentations to follow on FEMA website.

View Right To Ride pictures –  Click Here

A selection of the Conference pictures can be found here (Copyright by Wim Taal)

A selection of MEP-Ride pictures can be found here (Copyright by Wim Taal)

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