How Much Legislation is too much Legislation?
How far should control of a motorcycle be taken out of the hands of the rider?by Harry Fisher, on
The European Parliament is discussing sweeping legislation to make the roads safer and cut deaths by 2030. Would automatic control of how fast we ride in certain situations be a step too far or do we need that restriction?
How Much Legislation is too much?
It doesn’t always follow that what happens in terms of legislation in one part of the world automatically will happen in another part which has its own legislation. But is certain that all authorities keep a close eye on what other authorities are doing and the effect that it has on road safety.
Generally, legislation is logical and, given the increasing amount of traffic on roads, necessary if accidents rates are not going to rise rapidly. There will always be those who say we should be free to make our own minds up but that ignores those who will ride or drive without consideration for others, putting those others at risk as well as themselves.
The European Parliament has long been criticised for being heavy-handed and prescriptive when it comes to road safety legislation but it could be argued that they are just trying to protect people from themselves.
Earlier this year, it was reported that Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) would be introduced in 2022 in the UK and Europe as part of the EU Road Safety Policy Framework, which aims to halve the number of deaths on roads by 2030.
This technology would automatically control the speed of cars as they entered urban areas where speed limits have already been slashed to 20mph or lower.
A sensor in the car would pick up signals from roadside beacons or be GPS-based and the power of the engine would be cut or alarms would sound until the car reached the posted speed limit. At first motorcycle were to be exempt from having to fit such systems but now it seems the European Parliament is discussing making it mandatory for motorcycles to be fitted with the technology.
Other demands from the Members of European Parliament include:
Motorcycles to be fitted with ABS at minimum, and eCall (a system that immediately calls emergency services in the event of a serious accident) to be fitted to new bikes as standard.
Further investments for safe infrastructure on roads, particularly looking at those with high accident rates.
Vehicle safety features to be included in periodic technical checks.
Stricter alcohol limits and ‘no tolerance’ enforcement.
30km (18.6 mph) speed limit for cities and residential areas.
The rise of e-Scooters is also a focus, which can currently be purchased and ridden without any proficiency or theory tests. There is a call for these to be made mandatory for any form of two-wheeled transport.
The Federation of European Motorcyclists Associations (FEMA) agree with much of the legislation but are very much against the fitment of ISA to motorcycles.
General Secretary Dolf Willingers said that “We do not support any technical features that take away the control of the motorcycle from the rider and therefore – although we understand the need to reduce speed in certain situations – we see any kind of Intelligent Speed Assistance that interferes with engine control as a danger for motorcyclists.
"We have already discussed with the European Commission in 2019. The Commission agreed with us that you cannot just fit ISA on motorcycles.
“We welcome this report and almost all measures that are proposed by the Parliament. In a letter to the European Commission earlier this year we already asked for the inclusion of powered two-wheelers in the Key Performance Indicators, better training, driving license tests that are more tailored to risk assessment and risk avoidance instead of low-speed technical skills and safer infrastructure.”
Now, this is in Europe and not in the U.S. But you can bet your bottom dollar that if the measures are successful in reducing accidents and deaths significantly in Europe, then every other government will be forced to look closely at introducing similar legislation.
Of course, some of it is for the general good, such as introducing compulsory training for any two-wheeled vehicle and mandatory ABS (which is already fitted to the vast majority of new motorcycles anyway) but there are also thin ends of wedges lurking in there. The future of personal transport is already looking so different, with a switch to alternative fuels all but inevitable but, if we are forced to ride to someone else’s ideas of what is safe, then doesn’t that remove a lot of the fun of riding? Would motorcycling survive?