Last year over a 100,000 motorcyclists, coordinated by the French riders group The Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (FFMC – French Federation of Angry Bikers), demonstrated in France against their government’s plans to introduce a raft of road safety policies.
The proposal to make the wearing of high visibility fluorescent vests mandatory and the introduction of fines for non-compliance seemed to be the main focus of the French demonstrations. This was reported on and commented on by riders in the UK and Ireland.
After the demonstration, (which saw piles of high viz vests burned in protest by riders), French Government Officials claimed that bikers had totally misunderstood the proposed obligation for all to wear a fluorescent high visibility yellow vest!
Officials stated that it has never been a question of wearing that vest but rather to propose (not impose) to bikers that they wear a little yellow strap around their arm so that they can be better seen by motorists.
However FFMC now report that a new decree (NOR: IOCA1126729D No. 2012-3) on road safety has entered into force.
It was published on January 3rd 2012 and entered into force on the 4th January (2012).
The decree provides that drivers and passengers of motorized two-wheelers (2WD) of more than 125 cm3 from 1st January 2013 must wear a retro-reflecting device with a total surface area of at least 150 cm ².
If riders fails to comply with the law they will be subject to a fixed fine of €68 which automatically leads to the reduction of two points from their driver’s licence. There is no mention of what the passenger faces for non-compliance, perhaps just a fine?
Further to these regulations and digging a bit deeper, it would appear that not only motorcycle drivers and passengers must comply but also those driving a vehicle of category L5e with an output exceeding 15 kW.
The European definition of an L5e vehicle is one with three symmetrically arranged wheels fitted with an engine having a cylinder capacity of more than 50 cm3 if of the internal combustion type and/or a maximum design speed of more than 45 km/h, in other words, a Trike.
The reflective device must also correspond either to French standards or other standards to ensure an equivalent level of safety. These standards are not published, although the characteristics are to be established by order of the Minister for Road Safety.
If the reflective device is not built into the original garment, it can be superimposed (we assume fitted/worn) by any means.
The device must be worn on the upper body, with the exception of the helmet, from the belt line of the shoulders, so as to be visible to other road users.
It must be worn when the vehicle is running or when the vehicle is being fixed on the roadway, or as the result of an emergency stop.
FFMC say that, “bikers already have four retro-reflective stickers on the helmet and they ride with the headlights on. In addition, a retro-reflecting device is useless in daylight … We also know that the issue of visibility is not a problem of lighting or colours of clothing, but a problem of inattention of drivers inadequately trained to coexist with PTWs which is more and more prevalent. Finally, why are only bikers of than 125 cm3 included? They are the best equipped of all PTW users.”
This year the political elections are due in France and “noises” coming from FFMC suggests that they are not finished with this issue.
Right To Ride Comment
At Right To Ride we wonder if riders visiting France will have to wear a reflective device; where riders will be able to purchase these; how much these reflective devices will cost and who will make a huge profit from selling these to 3.5million registered PTWs in France (Powered Two Wheelers – Motorcycles – Scooters – Mopeds – 2009 ACEM).
Meanwhile in the Republic of Ireland, MAG Ireland has published interesting preliminary results of their survey on Hi Viz. These results suggest that riders are very aware of their own mortality and that the majority take necessary precautions.
Perhaps the French (and Irish) authorities should spend more time consulting riders instead of mandating ridiculous arm bands (or vests).
When a government starts interfering with the clothing of a minority group, there may be trouble ahead.
FFMC – www.ffmc.asso.fr
Motomag – www.motomag.com
Text of proposal – via Google Translate – Click Here
MAG Ireland High Viz Survey – Preliminary results – Click Here
Angry In France – June 2011 – Click Here
French Riders Protest – June 2011 – Click Here
French Riders Protest – September 2011 – Click Here