French Bikers Protest

UK France reports that yesterday’s – 18th June 2011 – French riders protests organised by the FFMC – the Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (The French Federation of Angry Bikers) against their governments plans to introduce a raft of  “ridiculous” road safety policies and law enforcement legislation attracted approximately 100,000 riders across France and some of its overseas territories. These included the island of Reunion (located off Madagascar and Mauritius) with almost 2,000 bikers, the islands of Martinique and Guadeloupe in the Caribbean and also some bikers gathered on the island of New Caledonia (located off Australia and New Zealand).

The UK France goes on to report that, “Each town and city was brought to a complete standstill for hours with the local population being totally unable to move around.

Paris alone saw more than 15,000 bikers blocking the heart of the capital, Lyon (France’s second largest city) saw more than 10,000 bikers, Lille (in the north of the country) counted more than 7,000 angry motorcyclists, Toulouse (in the south-west) was totally blocked by 8,000 bikers, Marseille and Bordeaux (in the south-east and south-west respectively) were also paralysed by 3,000 bikers each.

Thousands of bikers blocked central France with 3,500 of them in Clermont-Ferrand, the whole of Brittany (in the north-west) with more than 3,000 bikers in Brest, Quimper and Rennes.

The east of the country was also brought to a standstill with more than 6,000 bikers protesting in Strasbourg, Mulhouse Reims and Metz.

Smaller towns were also the scene of protests with 600 bikers each in Niort and Dijon, 400 in the beautiful and historic town of Carcassonne, 700 in Perpignan, 900 in Poitiers and 400 in Auxerre, to name a few.”

The protest were against, for riders:

  • The fitting of much larger than normal registration plates
  • Additional training if a rider has an interruption from riding of five years or more of the insurance of the bike
  • Making filtering in congested traffic illegal

The raft of regulations does not only affect motorcyclists, the legislation and action of the French Government includes:

  • All electronic devices, even smart phones and GPS systems, will be banned if they are able to warn of radar speed checks. Sanctions are draconian and might go up to 30.000 Euros or 2 years prison for the sale of such devices, while its usage will be punished by a fine of 1.500 Euros plus the loss of 6 points of the French traffic account system. 4 million speed detection devices have been sold in France over the last few years.
  • The removal of speed trap warning signs.
  • Immediate jail terms for those caught doing more than 30mph (50kph) over the speed limit.

These proposals are seen by the French as a criminalization of ordinary citizens and disproportionate penalties for road offences, as inadequate and unfair in the name of safety, even though the number of road deaths has historically never been lower. “

FFMC has invited the Government to review its road safety policy and take into account the real causes of road accidents.

UK France also says, that, “Claude Guéant (Minister of the Interior) has so far refused to listen but will he now listen to hundreds of thousands of bikers who have clearly proved to him that they have the power to bring the whole country to a complete stop? Let’s not forget that France is less than a year away from the next presidential elections, so will Guéant stand on the safe side and finally listen to the bikers if he is not to lose his position in the next government? The FFMC has clearly stated its intention to organise further similar demonstrations in no later than September if Guéant’s proposals are not abandoned immediately.”

Frederic Jeorg, Board Member National FFMC said, on the FFMC website, “From our side we will continue our collaboration with other associations of road users to suggest ways of improving all truly sustainable road safety. Road safety has to do with road users, not against them.”

View the full report from UK France – Click Here


Google Translate –

If you’re based in France and want to take part of the fight against the Government’s proposed introduction of a compulsory annual environmental and road safety test for motorcycles and their continued policy to ban motorcyclists from filtering through traffic, then contact the Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (FFMC – French Federation of Angry Bikers).

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  1. More information on Mandatory Hi Viz in the Republic of Ireland:

    From MAG Ireland:

  2. Done a quick translation of the text you mentioned using Google Translate and it says:

    Measure 11: Improving the visibility of motorcyclists.

    · Obligation to wear a retro-reflective equipment for motorcyclists or tricycle over 125 cm3.

    The safety of users of bike is an essential part of reducing the accident rate in urban areas or out of town. It requires a more visibility to be facilitated, in case of failure but also circulation.

    In addition, users of motorized two-wheelers are not protected by a body.

    In case of fall, even at low speeds, the slightest shock can be fatal or cause serious injury.

    Many users neglect the wearing of personal protective equipment.

    The first equipment protection is clothing of the user.

    Also on the Governmental website the press release from the 11th May says (again using google translator) – Drivers of motorcycles and scooters should wear retro-reflective device.

    Lost in translation perhaps?

    However whether a jacket, a vest, an armband or reflective strips on clothing, complusion is not the answer!

  3. They did not ‘propose’ and there were no scaremongering at all. The french governement “stepped back”, talking about misundertanding and that it was all about an arm strap … etc.

    This is totally wrong.

    Everything was written on the CISR press release from 11th may 2011 : if you can read French, please take a look at page 17 (

    Not talking about arm strap, but about hi viz cloth jacket.

  4. Well, well, well – the truth comes out. Not legislation to wear Hi Viz jackets in France – nothing of the sort!

    From UK France – halfway down the page (hidden amongst the other articles)

    UPDATE – 21 June 2011:

    Further to the bikers’ demonstrations that took place last Saturday throughout France and paralysed the entire nation (read below), Michèle Merli, in charge of France’s road safety and working closely with Claude Guéant – current French interior minister, has made herself heard on national radio.

    According to Ms Merli, it would appear that the bikers have totally misunderstood the proposed obligation for all to wear a fluorescent high visibility yellow vest! Ms Merli has said that it has never been a question of wearing that vest but rather propose (not impose?!) to the bikers that they wear a little yellow strap around their arm so that they can be better seen by motorists.

    So what does that mean? It means simply that the campaign against compulsory day glo/hi viz is just scaremongering – and may I suggest simply for FFMC, MAG UK etc to get more members and FEMA to cover up its incompetence.

    Also the scaremongering about the Irish having compulsory day glo/Hi Viz is not true – it was a proposal in a consulation, that has gone nowhere!

    This is outrageous when there are more important issues to be aware of – not least the EU Commission’s proposal on market surveillance that will be voted on in the Internal Market and Consumer Protection Committee next week.

    The problem here is that it requires too much attention to detail and admitting that they (FEMA and its National Organisations) backed the wrong horse – in this case Wim van de Camp who instead of being the biker’s hero, turned out to be a Trojan horse – by not only agreeing with compulsory ABS, AHO and on board diagnostics for bikes over 125cc, but also wants tough anti-tampering measures for a problem that doesn’t exist.

  5. Here’s a link to a discussion that is going on from A Road Safety GB press release​/news/1672.html

    “Following the news that compulsory hi-vis jackets for motorcyclists are among a raft of new traffic laws to be introduced in France, a Road Safety GB motorcycling expert has warned against similar measures being adopted in the UK.”

  6. Regarding complusory Day Glo could this come to Northern Ireland?

    Irelands Road Safety Authority (RSA) has proposed to introduce regulations for the mandatory wearing of sleeved high visibility upper body clothing for rider and pillion passenger.

    In Northern Ireland the DOE ROAD SAFETY STRATEGY TO 2020 says:

    We will work with and support GB to take forward research to improve motorcycle safety, including conspicuity, and support the European powered two wheeler integrated safety programme. We will take forward appropriate action measures arising from this work.

    We will consider measures to improve the visibility and conspicuity of motorcyclists.

  7. An excellent account of the protest from Mike Werner at Bikes in the Fast Lane “Anatomy Of A French Motorcycle Protest Ride”. He tells us of the demo in Rouen – with lots of pictures and humour.

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