You are here
Home > FEMA News >

Motorcycling: the individual mobility solution that brings many advantages

A French white paper, published by CSIAM (the International Chamber of Automobile and Motorcycle Trade Unions) offers a summary of the significant progress that the use of motorcycles and other powered two-wheelers makes, both in terms of relieving road traffic congestion and reducing polluting emissions and on savings that can be made by the community and road users themselves. It also offers an industrial perspective on the problems of noise and road safety as it is understood in the motorcycle sector. Below we offer a compilation of the most important issues (click here to read the full white paper).

Travel time
Taking into account the results of a FEMA mobility test, which establishes that the average time saving between the car and the powered two-wheeler on the same route in the Roman agglomeration is 27% in favour of the motorcycle, the consulting firm Oxford Economics, calculated the travel times for each mode of transport. The result shows that, on average, motorbike drivers (or scooters), with comparable routes, take 10 minutes less to get to work than car drivers, 12 minutes less than cyclists and 18 minutes less than public transit users. By virtue of the fact that each individual makes the journey twice a day (round trip) and works 240 days a year, British analysts estimate that the 103,000 Roman motorized two-wheeler drivers save 340,281 cumulative days each year compared to motorists, and 422,859 cumulative days compared to all other available modes of transport.

Oxford Economics has announced that motorcycles emit significantly less greenhouse gases than passenger cars. In this case, the analysis of the authors of the study is based on an average emission factor of 64g/km for a motorcycle with a cylinder capacity of less than or equal to 250 cm3 (The emission factor is the amount of a certain pollutant emitted per vehicle/kilometre (g/km)). Larger powered two-wheelers, despite less favourable emission factors, retain the advantage over cars occupied by their driver alone: for motorcycles between 250 and 750 cm3, the factor increases to 149 g/km, while motorcycles over 750 cm3 are capped at 163 g/km on average. For cars, the values used by Oxford Economics are 218 g/km for petrol engines and 200 g/km for diesel engines. All of these figures are drawn from the COPERT (Computer Program to calculate Emissions from Road Transport) database on which the European Environment Agency relies. The reference to small-displacement motorcycles, also adopted by the researchers at Transport & Mobility Leven, is justified by British analysts by the fact that they represent 62% of motorcycles, including mopeds, used in Europe, with 22 million vehicles.

The lower fuel consumption of a powered two-wheeler, compared to that of a private car, is due in part to the reduction in travel time specific for motorcycles because of their ability to filter between the lines of slowed or stopped cars. With less than 3 l/100km for 125 cm3 motorcycles, and less than 4 l/100 km for medium-displacement motorcycles, the measurements reveal low values that only cars with more complex and more expensive technological applications can achieve. The authors note that these same results confirm a significant improvement between Euro 3 motorcycles and their Euro 4 and Euro 5 equivalents: the average reduction in consumption for a 125 cc3 is 22%; that of maxi-scooters, less obvious, still results in a -4.8% (they are penalized by the lower energy efficiency of a variator, compared to a gearbox); that of medium-displacement motorcycles shows a -25% and that of large displacements (more than 900 cm3) – 20%. In terms of CO2 (carbon dioxide) emissions, the downward curve, combined with that of consumption, reveals emission factors of 48 to 63 g/km for 125 cm3 motorcycles, 73 to 97 g/km for intermediate displacements and between 103 and 107 g/km for motorcycles with 75 and 100 kW of power.

CSIAM President Vincent Thommeret on motorcycle noise: “Let’s keep in mind that if the technical compliance of powered two-wheelers with strict regulations, guaranteed by their manufacturers, is not undermined by any modification of their exhaust system, powered two-wheelers are not noisy.”

Battery electric
In terms of environmental impact, the report suggests that the electrification of a scooter with a power equivalent to that of a 125 cm3 is a relevant response to the need for an individual vehicle. The comparative analysis of the life cycle of a 125 scooter with a combustion engine and its electric equivalent (same power of 10 kW, 6 kWh Li-ion battery) shows that the electric version produces a lower pollutant footprint: the carbon emissions attributable to the manufacture of an electric scooter are certainly significantly higher than those resulting from the construction of a scooter with a combustion engine, But carbon-free use leads to an overall reduction in greenhouse gas emissions. The excess emissions attributable to the manufacture of the electric powered two-wheeler are compensated when more than 18,500 km are travelled.

The costs of transport
Motorcycles, particularly in the case of cylinders less than or equal to 250 cm3, in urban and suburban areas, perform better than cars in terms of direct cost per kilometre, due, among other things, to their lower fuel consumption. Thus, it is easy to assume that a 125 cm3 motorcycle, credited with a 95 E10 petrol consumption of less than or equal to 3 l/100 km, will generate, at most, a direct expenditure of €5.70 per 100 km travelled, based on a price per litre of €1.90. By comparison, a city car credited with a consumption of less than or equal to 5l/100 km will generate, at most, a direct expenditure of €9.50. Based on the idea that the working population assigns a value to the time spent working or indulging in leisure, Oxford Economics considers that the time saved on travel frees up availability for work or leisure. A monetary value can thus be set for the time invested, in line with what individuals would be willing to pay to save time on commuting. In this case, the Italian Ministry of Infrastructure and Transport provided the British experts with a monetary value of the hours spent according to the purpose of the trip. In median value, in 2019, the hour of work in Italy is estimated at €16.4, compared to €7.70 for an hour of transport between home and work, and €10.30 for an hour of extra-professional activity. By applying these price levels to the time savings estimated by Oxford Economics over the course of its study, it is possible to estimate the cumulative monetary value of people who commute to and from their workplace. The authors of the British study, to do so, take the example of the city of Rome, Italy (2,280,000 inhabitants in 2019). Their calculations show that if 5% of motorists abandoned their car to switch to a powered two-wheeler, their time savings would collectively reach €45.9 million/year. Assuming that only 2.5% of them preferred the motorcycle, the time recovered would reach the value of €23 million. If only 1% of them replaced the use of a car with that of a scooter or a light motorcycle, it would be a saving of €9.2 million. At the European level, the evaluation of the average price of an hour ‘redeemable’, as calculated by the European Commission in 2019, is capped at €6.47. On this basis, the hypothesis of 5% of drivers wishing to abandon the car for a powered two-wheeler for their daily journeys, transposed to the level of the Member States of the European Union and the United Kingdom, suggests the figure of €3.3 billion in savings per year.

Road safety
As for the study of accident factors, it shows, among other things, that the speed of the driver of a motorcycle over 125 cm3 (and presumed to be responsible for the accident) is the predominant element: it is proven in 52% of cases. Another fact that is noteworthy: while female drivers represent 15% of the population of powered two-wheeler users, only 8% of them lose their lives as a result of an accident – their mortality rate is almost half that of their male counterparts. These findings lead the powered two-wheeler branch of the CSIAM to consider that a powered two-wheeler is not a dangerous vehicle in itself, any more than an electric scooter, a bicycle or a car; that the fact of being less protected than a car driver must induce appropriate behaviour, encourage caution, the wearing of appropriate equipment and compliance with the Highway Code. It is under these conditions that everyone can get the most out of the use of a motorized two-wheeler and receive all the pleasure it is likely to offer.

French motorcyclists’ organisation FFMC – a member of FEMA – said: “With this white paper, the CSIAM condenses into a single document the advantages of using powered two-wheelers in an urban environment. Coincidence or not, the official release of this white paper comes a few days after the European-wide publication of the Manifesto co-produced by the FIA, FEMA and ACEM, European representatives of motorcycling sport and user associations and manufacturers of motorcycles. The document calls for the use of powered two- and three wheelers in urban environments to combat traffic jams and decarbonize everyday mobility, without avoiding the issues of noise, safety or pollution.”

Written by Wim Taal

Source: CSIAM (click here to read the white paper (French, pdf, 45 pages))

Top photograph courtesy of Honda