Phil’s “Good Idea”

motorcycleriderlogoOn the BMF’s rider magazine website, Right To Ride debates with Phil Bennion on his RWT amendments.

Rider Magazine published a summary of our article entitled – “Down to the Wire” which we published on the 28th June 2013:

“Down to the Wire is a round up of the issues and articles put up on the Right To Ride and Right To Ride EU website and Facebook pages.

Most important is the issue around the European Commissions Road Worthiness Testing proposal concerning motorcycles.

The article “Down to the Wire” rounds up what has been discussed on the European stage regarding the EU Road Worthiness Testing, but also covers the last few days running up to today’s debate and the subsequent scheduled vote on Tuesday in the European Parliaments Plenary session in Strasbourg.

The position adopted by both council and the parliamentary committees is the deletion of the requirements to introduce mandatory road worthiness testing for motorcycles throughout, which would thus leave this decision to member states to keep testing procedures for motorcycles or to introduce them.

This position was adopted by the European Council (representatives of democratically elected governments), the TRAN (Transport and Tourism) Committee, in charge of the Road Worthiness Proposal, and the IMCO (Internal Market and Consumer Protection) Committee – both committees of MEPs, democratically elected by European Citizens, that is you and me! At the eleventh hour, ALDE rapporteur and Lib Dem MEP Phil Bennion broke ranks and added amendments to reintroduce the inclusion of two and three wheeled vehicles. The Green party representatives have included further amendments of a similar nature.

We can only speculate why at this point in time these MEPs have evidently thrown a spanner in the works. While they are using the procedures that are allowed in the European Parliament, because they did not get their way in the democratic procedure through debate and voting they have now made all the efforts of the TRAN and IMCO Committee and the European Council appear to be futile.

This is effectively sticking two fingers up at the democratic process, to fellow MEPs, to governments, to the rider organisations who have lobbied fair and square and to a process in which Mr Bennion took an active part.

We respectfully request that our UK MEPs do not to support any amendments which would reintroduce mandatory road worthiness for motorcycles across Europe and to support the previous position of the Council, TRAN and IMCO Committees in this matter and to encourage their colleagues to do likewise.

– With thanks to Right To Ride”

Phil Bennion MEP Responds

phil-bennion-mepOn the 17th July 2013 Phil Bennion the MEP mentioned in the article responded on the BMF’s Motorcycle Rider page:

“In response to “Lib Dem MEP Phil Bennion broke ranks and added amendments to reintroduce the inclusion of two and three wheeled vehicles” I must point out that from the start of the legislative process, I have remained to be convinced that motorbikes should be included in the scope of the legislative proposal, despite the fact that they are currently periodically tested in the UK.

Throughout email correspondence and discussions that I had with Motorbike interest groups, there were a few concerns with regard to the proposal, and in particular the issue of C02 emissions testing of old motorbikes.

Following discussions with MEPs from across all groups this led me to suspect that the plenary would overturn the Committee position and vote to include all motorbikes. Knowing that this would be retabled by Socialists and Greens, I tabled a middle way amendment that would exclude all existing motorbikes from the scope, which would leave a more reasonable alternative if the Committee position were rejected.

Unfortunately, my amendment was misunderstood and due to the lack of support from right-wing MEPs, including UK Conservatives, the amendment adopted by the plenary included both old and new motorbikes from 2016.

The vote in Strasbourg represents the European Parliament’s adopted amendments to the European Commission’s proposals. The Parliament’s position will now form the basis for negotiations with Council (made up of relevant Ministers from each EU Member State) to agree a joint position before the European Parliament will have a final vote on the new rules later this year. There is every chance that motorbikes will be removed from the scope during the negotiations considering the closeness of the vote.

I am continuing to monitor the situation closely.

Phil Bennion MEP”

Right To Ride Responds

f800gs_pic1smallWe at Right To Ride feel that it is necessary to clarify our perspective on the Road Worthiness Testing proposal that is now being considered for legislation. In the first instance we would like to point out that we think that the MoT system in this part of the country (Northern Ireland) is excellent. It does what it says on the tin. It keeps the crap off the roads and identifies technical failures in vehicles i.e. PTWs, cars, vans and trucks in order that these failures are rectified and ensures a minimum standard of technical quality for these vehicles on the nation’s roads.

That said, we recognise that the proposal put forward by the Commission was unrealistic and unreasonable in some aspects and costly to the degree that in Northern Ireland at least, it would have brought the MoT system here to its knees, the reason being that the system is government run and relies on dedicated MoT centres to test the vehicles. Thus including tractors, trailers and so forth – apart from the obvious requirement that these “vehicles” would need to be registered in order to be tested, would have put the NI agency responsible in an impossible situation and possibly brought financial ruin to the agency.

While we believe that the benefits of road worthiness testing far outweigh the negative aspects, we have always stated that we respect the right of other countries and governments to make their own minds up. We also recognise that in these dire times of economic woe, the last thing that European countries need is the burden of extra bureaucracy based on (in the case of the justification to include PTWs) “ouija board” statistics from the Commission et al which seem to suggest that technical failures (8%) are responsible for motorcycle fatalities.

Furthermore we have also read the somewhat fanciful logic put forward by so-called motorcycle experts that the technical inspections of PTWs would be invasive (e.g. drum brakes) and therefore far more costly. The damage that these people (who apparently have not bothered to actually look closely at the proposal) have done by frightening motorcyclists into believing that they will be obliged to pay significant sums of money to have their motorcycles tests, is enormous . This has made it that much more difficult to have an intelligent debate regarding the positive or negative aspects.

However – while we understand Mr Bennion’s logic in terms of the importance of emissions testing for old motorcycles – we would go even further and point out that with the phasing in of Euro standards 4, 5 and 6, it makes sense to have these newer vehicles regularly tested at some point in time, in order to ensure that the standards are maintained. In fact the LAT report is quite specific in explaining the reasons.

What we don’t understand is the political posturing, e.g. the comment about the lack of support by “right wing MEPs”, when it was the TRAN Committee to exclude 2 and 3 wheeled vehicles from the proposal (of which Mr Bennion is a member). Equally the IMCO Committee excluded these vehicles.

Party politics as far as we are concerned, is a red herring and frankly a game that we have no intentions of playing. The way we see it, Mr Bennion had no remit from the motorcycling community and indeed we understand that he was contacted after he had put forward his amendments. The only logical conclusion that we can reach is simply that he may have thought at the time “what a good idea!”.

We know that the UK government has put forward its point of view and from what we understand is in agreement with the Council of Ministers – which has excluded PTWs from the proposal. It seems to us that the UK government (which is made up of Conservatives and Lib Dems) has expressed its opinion, thus once again, we can only comment that Phil Bennion MEP, broke ranks and “did his own thing”.

(N.B. LAT report : The Laboratory of Applied Thermodynamics, Mechanical Engineering Department, Aristotle University, Thessaloniki, (LAT). The first LAT report “Impact assessment/Package of New Requirements Relating to the Emissions from Two and Three-Wheel Motor Vehicles”, was written in 2004 and updated in 2008 (Study on possible new measures concerning motorcycle emissions – final report).

Right To Ride


Motorcycle Rider – Right To Ride Round Up – Down to the Wire – Click Here
Right To Ride – Down to the Wire – Click Here
LAT report – pdf 851kb – Click Here
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