Cut the number of motorbikes. Simple innit!
I have a great deal of affection for the Motorcycle Action Group, or MAG as they are known. Their European end, FEMA provide an annual jolly for MEPs and assorted hangers on, giving a pillion trip up to some restaurant in Alsace where one is, I am told wined and dined most effectively, just in time for a splendid ride back to Strasbourg (this year sponsored by Harley Davidson. I really have to go next year, might take my own bike).
However they have a real beef about a piece of law that is motoring its way through the EU system which they feel will do just that. Reduce accidents bythe simple method of reducing those driving, rather than making anything intrinsically safer.
The problem is the EU's 3rd Road Safety Action Plan, which aims to cut accidents by "50%" by 2011.
What is required in the new Directive - "The third Directive on Driving Licences"
"Minimum age for riding bikes larger than 125cc likely to rise from 17 to 19.
Direct Access to larger bikes not allowed until 24 (currently 21).
New categories of motorcycle riding licences creating several two-year ‘steps’ between bikes of different engine size.
Riders required to complete extra riding tests between ‘steps’."
The bottom line is that all this will make biking extremely expensive, prohibitavely so for younger bikers. A spokesman for the respected British industry association the The Motorcycle Industry Association Craig Carey-Clinch said,
"Once again Brussels is ignoring road safety evidence so that it can simply blame motorcyclists for motorcycle accidents, while ignoring the deficiencies of other road users".
MAG's own spokesman Trevor Baird, put it pretty simply when he commentated,
"We are approaching the stage where the motorcycle community may have to say to Europe "enough is enough".
Another sector goes sceptic?
As a foot note while researching this piece I noticed that Simon Milward, a very fine chap who was one of the mainstays of MAG, and founder of FEMA who could often be seen wandering round the Parliament in his leathers, bearding people and being a very good egg died on his bike while carrying out a humanitarian mission in Mali this year.
Damned good man, very sad.