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2023: FEMA’s review of the year

2023 in numbers

Newsletter subscribers > 10,075
Facebook followers > 78,788
Instagram followers > 985
LinkedIn followers > 1,132
Twitter (X) followers > 1,632
Member organisations > 20
Posted manufacturers’ recalls > 36

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We reached the end of 2023, time to have a quick look at the highlights of the past year. And what a year it was for FEMA!

Defending riders’ rights seems to be more important than ever, now that we see more and more policies that are not exactly motorcyclist friendly. Driving licence proposals seem to want to make it as unattractive as possible to get your A licence, road authorities keep implementing infrastructure measures that disregard our needs and by making it mandatory to hand in motorcycles at the end of their life, the European Commission is trying to solve a non-existing problem.

So were we depressed or ready to give up? Certainly not! We kept working every day to prove that motorcycles and other powered two-wheelers are the best way to travel and we produced an incredibly important and well-researched paper, showing road authorities how to make our roads and infrastructure safe for motorcyclists.

And what about next year?

FEMA and its member organisations are ready to get to work in 2024 and to fight for rider’s rights harder than ever before. But we cannot do it without you, so please join your national motorcyclists’ organisation today.

Road safety
During the seminar ‘Reducing road deaths among motorcycle riders’, organised by the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC), motorcycle experts were given the opportunity to present their views to a large audience of over 240 members of the road safety community. The scale of the problem is serious: over 45,000 users of powered two-wheelers lost their lives on European roads in the last ten years. And even with numerous road safety programmes in place, the deaths among motorcyclists are declining more slowly than among moped riders and other road users. Jesper concluded his presentation by showing the motorcyclists’ wish list, which sums up a number of relatively easy steps for authorities to take.

Driving licence
Proposals to establish different speed limits for cars and motorcycles ánd differentiated speed limits for holders of A1, A2 and A motorcycle licences were rejected during a vote in the Transport and Tourism Committee of the European Parliament. Rapporteur Karima Delli MEP’s report included amendments to the proposal by the European Commission, trying to establish different speed limits for cars and motorcycles and differentiated speed limits for holders of A1, A2 and A motorcycle licences, regardless of the general speed limits. This would mean a speed limit for motorcyclists with an A1 licence shall of 90 km/h, 100 km/h for A2 licence holders and 110 km/h for A1 licence holders. Thanks to serious lobbying by FEMA and its national motorcyclists’ organisations, these amendments fell during the vote in the Transport and Tourism Committee and will not be part of the final report.

On the first of November FEMA’s General-Secretary Dolf Willigers (66) officially retired from his job. Dolf was a volunteer with a Dutch motorcyclists’ organisation since 2000, where he was a member of the board from 2006 to 2013 and from 2016 to 2017. He was also an editor of this organisation’s member magazine from 2011 to 2014 where he focused on European issues. Dolf represented the organisation as a delegate to FEMA from 2013 to 2015, when he applied for (and got) the job of FEMA’s General-Secretary. Dolf is well-respected and liked in the European and even global community of defenders of riders’ rights, as well as in the community of lawmakers, road safety experts and other stakeholders.

Mobility test
FEMA’s Mobility test, held in a number of European cities, once again showed that riding on two wheels will get you to your destination quickest and cheapest. Already over 70% of the European citizens live in urban areas and the number is expected to increase to over 80% in the next decades. This means that congestion, parking problems and air quality will be a growing problem in the future. Public transport, walking and cycling are promoted by the European Union, national governments and local councils as the preferable alternative. FEMA’s Mobility test showed that there is a better alternative available already: the motorcycle.

In memoriam
Rene Hilbert from Luxembourg, a true friend of motorcycling, has passed away. He lost his life in the middle of October in a motorcycle accident in Iran, when he was hit by a truck. Rene was one of the founders of FEM in the late eighties, and he was also one of the persons that were strongly involved in the merger between FEM and EMA in 1998. After that he was a member of the FEMA Committee for many years, where he represented LMI Luxembourg.

End of life vehicles
The European Commission wants to make it mandatory to hand in motorcycles when the have come at ‘the end of their life’. FEMA thinks motorcycles should not be included. Virtually all motorcycle parts can be re-used, through a large network of specialised second-hand part suppliers or by users themselves who swap and change parts with other owners. Parts that are not re-used are recycled through local recycling schemes or sent on by second-hand part shops. There is no evidence of motorcycles being dumped beside the road or otherwise disposed of in an inappropriate manner.

Safer roads for motorcyclists
A global working group of 15 experts, headed by SMC and FEMA, collected all available information on infrastructure that is safe for motorcyclists and drafted a report that should be read (and implemented) by anybody who is involved in road infrastructure. This work, titled ’Safer roads for motorcyclists – Moving towards a systematic approach for motorcycle safety’ inventories the infrastructural challenges that motorcyclists all over the world are confronted with and offers possible solutions. It provides alternatives for currently used road infrastructure, best practices, new test methods and calls for more research and the exchange of knowledge between researchers, road authorities and lawmakers. The report contains recommendations for all involved parties.

Our members
The FEMA Committee met three times this year to discuss national and European motorcycling issues and of course they also discussed the future of FEMA. At the Annual General Meeting in February, the Committee elected the President and the members of the Board: Anna Zee (President), Jim Freeman (Treasurer), Odd Terje Dovik, Jesper Christensen, Steinmar Gunnarsson and Lene Michelsen.

Written by Wim Taal

Photography courtesy of MotoADN, Wim Taal, Olaf Biethan and others

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