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BMF disagrees with the government’s anti-tampering views

The BMF does not accept the Government’s views on modernising vehicle standards if that means it will be come harder or even impossible to keep older bikes on the roads.

BMF’s Anna Zee

The BMF has called for greater clarity on proposed anti-tampering legislation currently being considered by the Department for Transport. “The BMF disagrees with the proposals as defined because the scope appears unlimited,” said Anna Zee, the BMF’s Political and Technical Services Director. “There is no indication of who will enforce the legislation or how.”

The BMF has chosen to take part in the consultation but has done so under protest. With this consultation the BMF – and other motorcyclists’ organisations – are forced to answer questions and statements that should not be asked in the flawed manner that they are.

There is only one way to do this right, to make sure that the governments goals are realistically formulated, and that is by involving the real experts, the motorcyclists, from the start of any new legislative proposals.

The Government’s views are part of much a much wider paper, the ‘Future of Transport regulatory review.’ This is a wide-ranging series of possible proposals including advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS), as well as other software applied to vehicles and anti-tampering. Because it still isn’t clear how far the proposals – which could become law in 2024 – apply to older motorcycles as well as new ones, the BMF demands answers.

In a meeting, Department for Transport officials sought to reassure the BMF and other motorcyclists’ organisations that the focus is on emissions, new technology and electric vehicles. However, the proposals’ definition is very wide, stating that, “systems, parts or components” would be subject to anti-tampering legislation as, “software and/or hardware that impacts on the environment, road safety or security.” Anna Zee: “This definition could apply to almost anything on any vehicle and it does not exclude beneficial impacts. The definition must be more specific as to which systems or components are included. We see no reason for including any system or component which is already subject to inspection in the MOT test.”

‘Over-strict anti-tampering laws could be bad for this market and bad for the riders.’

Anna added that many small businesses within motorcycling restore older bikes and supply after-market parts and accessories: “Over-strict anti-tampering laws could be bad for this market and bad for the riders; the BMF objects strongly to any legislation which makes it impossible to keep older machines on the road.”

The BMF has suggested a number of parameters which would make it clear what is (and isn’t) affected by the proposed laws. These include the principle that no motorcycle should be required to better the standards in place when it was new. That replacement parts must be permitted as long as emissions standards are maintained, with exemptions where original parts are no longer available. And that any limits on tuning should not include de-restricting A2-licence bikes, nor any power increases which do not increase emissions.

Finally, the BMF raised concerns about advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS). For the BMF only systems that have proven to specifically look for and react to vulnerable road users like pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists, are acceptable.

This is the timeline of events around the anti-tampering consultation.

September 28th
Consultation published on modernising vehicle standards, including proposals for anti-tampering measures published

October 11th
BMF published this story

October 12th
MAG published this story:

October 27th
Meeting held with DfT officials, in particular regarding the anti-tampering proposals. Those attending the meeting include Anna Zee for the BMF, Colin Brown for MAG and Craig Carey-Clinch for the NMC. The objective of this meeting was to clarify whether or not the anti-tampering proposals were really intended to be unlimited in scope, as could be inferred from the way they were written. Officials gave assurances that the proposals were not actually intended to prevent riders from customising or modifying their machines in the ways they have been accustomed to. Officials agreed that the consultation had, in that respect, been poorly worded. They did say that legislation regarding emissions might be to some extent retrospective, i.e intended to apply to vehicles already in use at the time legislation becomes effective. No-one on among the riders representatives intimated that any of the proposals would necessarily be accepted.

November 12th
The consultation web page was updated by the department to clarify the intended scope of the proposals but the consultation document itself remained unchanged.

November 22nd
Deadline for submitting responses. All three groups have sent responses. Click here for the BMF reponse (in pdf).

Since the consultation document remained unchanged the BMF has answered the questions according to their original context. This means that we have rejected the proposals on anti-tampering and the definition of part/component/system. We do not regard it as realistic to oppose all anti-tampering measures on new-build vehicles, in particular with respect to emissions and to computer-based systems and therefore we have tried to indicate how legislation should be framed so as to avoid interfering with the sorts of vehicle modification many of us are accustomed to and to avoid arbitrarily removing existing vehicles from use on the road.

Written by Peter Henshaw and Helen Hancock

Top photograph by Andrea Piacquadio