BMF To Brian Simpson

ridercoverbrinsimpson2013smallIn April 2013 we published an article entitled “Wrong Proposal At The Wrong Time” which included our reply to UK MEP Brian Simpson’s  comments at the end of a discussion about the Road Worthiness Testing (RWT) proposal.

Brian Simpson is the Chairman of the TRAN (Transport and Tourism) Committee of the European Parliament, this committee was tasked to examine the Commission’s proposal on RWT on behalf of the European parliament.

Mr Simpson’s comment was that motorcycles are the  “biggest death carrier on our roads.”

In our opinion it was pretty clear from the way he said it, that he was making a defiant statement. That may not be politically correct, but we would bet the flood of emails and statements he received prior to the meeting encouraged by certain rider’s organisations, would have seriously irritated him.

At that time we said “So what! – if Mr Simpson has an opinion and uses that to influence the debate and to make a point, then grown up lobbying needs to step up to intelligently challenge his point of view.”

Well, step up the British Motorcyclists Federation (BMF), which has published in the latest issue of the members’ magazine “Motorcycle Rider” an interview with Mr Simpson in the wake of his description of motorcycles as “death carriers”.

BMF Rider Magazine Interview Brian Simpson MEP

briansimpsonmepRider spoke to Brian Simpson MEP, chair of the Transport Committee in the European Parliament, in wake of his recent comments describing motorcycles as “death carriers”. After his comments angered bikers up and down the country, we asked him about criticism, safety concerns and the EU.

What do you think the challenges are for motorcyclists?

One of the major challenges facing motorcyclists is the fact that they are 18 times more likely to be killed in a road traffic accident than car users, Motorcyclists are more vulnerable than many other road users and more needs to be done to protect riders on EU roads, Of course, motorcyclists themselves are often not the primary contributing factor when an accident occurs, but I do believe that motorcycle and moped riders can help us to reduce the unacceptable death toll on Europe’s roads, There are occasions when motorcyclists do not ride safely, For example, I myself have seen riders using roads in my constituency as a racetrack or undertaking on busy roads, There must be a way to reduce these cases of dangerous driving, and increase the responsible driving that most riders already adhere to.

Can these problems be solved by legislation?

Legislation can help through enforcement of speed limits, introduction and enforcement of roadworthiness testing and enforcement of noise limits.

What do you think of motorcycles and their role in transport?

I think motorcycles have a crucial role to play and, in safe hands, they are a good mode of transport. But you cannot escape the statistical evidence that motorcyclists are more vulnerable than the average road user and this issue needs to be addressed with the involvement of all road users.

What do you think the barriers are to motorcycling becoming a larger part of the transport mix? Safety considerations and an infrastructure system that is geared to the car.

What is the European Union doing to support motorcycling?

The European Parliament is trying to make it safer, which leads to a tirade of abuse from some motorcyclists surprisingly often. We are also trying to get member states to look at their road design to make it more biker-friendly and encourage governments to educate other road users about motorcycles.

Do you think motorcyclists are interested in their own safety?

Most are, but I believe there are some who do not give enough consideration for the safety of themselves or other road users. Yes,they are a minority, but they are out there and, if you ask the general public, I think they would agree with me.

What are your opinions of the representatives of motorcyclists?

They are passionate, which is good, but in my view they often just want to do as they please. There is never any compromise and, if you don’t agree with them, you are depicted as the devil incarnate.

How important is it for the representatives of motorcycling to be heard as part of the democratic process?

Very important, but in a balanced way – not an anti-authority group that opposes any change, but as an expert group that can help us improve safety for all road users.

Have you ever ridden a motorcycle? Do you have a motorcycle licence?

I don’t have a motorcycle licence but, yes, I’ve ridden on motorcycles and I can understand the thriII of it. However, safety of riders and other road users must be paramount and bikers, like the rest of us, must keep within the law.

Have you received much abuse and how does it affect your view of motorcyclists?

There has been some criticism, but it comes with the territory. I don’t mind people disagreeing with me – that happens – but it is difficult to respond constructively when I receive personal abuse.

Do you think that the representation of motorcyclists needs to be seen to be more professional at all levels?

I think they need to understand that you cannot just ignore what is happening on our roads with two-wheel vehicles, which is why politicians get concerned, and then attack those politicians as being anti-motorcyclist. There needs to be a willingness to work with politicians to find solutions rather than going on the attack at the first opportunity.

What law changes can motorcyclists expect in the future?

Stricter roadworthiness testing, which I agree with, including MOTs in those countries that don’t have them at the moment. We could also see stricter licences, including a minimum age for bigger bikes and a different licence to drive bigger bikes – which I don’t agree with – as well as anti-tampering regulations, which I am in favour of. But all of these are still some five years away, in my view.

Chris Comments

chrishodder1Chris Hodder, the BMF’s government relations executive, commented on the interview with Brian Simpson.

The interview with Brian Simpson MEP is very revealing. Although Mr Simpson clearly has some issues with motorcycle safety, the tendency of some to bombard MEPs, MPs, councillors and whoever else will listen with tirades of negativity about their conduct clearly doesn’t work in achieving their aim – which, I assume, is to change their mind.

As a keen rugby player, I often hear many rhetorical aphorisms on the playing field. In this context, the most relevant is:” Have you ever known a referee to change his mind?”

Obviously, this one is not well known in football circles, but basically it refers to the point that arguing with a referee is very unlikely to change his mind, especially if a call has already been made.

Although not a referee, the same point goes for Mr Simpson – arguing the toss is not going change anything, especially after a public pronouncement has been made.

Yes, we may think that he was wrong to use such language as “death carriers”, but verbally abusing him is much less likely to change his mind than finding some time to put a point across carefully and concisely.

Calling someone an idiot who doesn’t know what they are talking about isn’t likely to win many favours, especially when the person in question is the Chairman of the Transport Committee in the European Parliament and therefore probably does know a bit about the subject.

Brian Simpson – Curriculum Vitae

  • A member of the European Parliament – 1989-1999
  • Representing the North West Region – 1999-2004
  • Lost his seat at the 2004 European Parliamentary Elections
  • Returned to the European Parliament in September 2006 and re-elected in 2009
  • President of the European Parliament’s Transport and Tourism Committee after serving as the Socialist Group Spokesperson -In 2010 and 2012, he was voted Transport MEP of the year by Parliament Magazine

Information

Out thanks to the BMF for the reproduction of the article and for conducting the interview with Mr Simpson.

You can read more articles and issues from the BMF in the online version of their members Motorcycle Rider Magazine – www.ridermagazine.co.uk

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For the Right To Ride article – “Wrong Proposal At The Wrong Time” – Click Here

Brian Simpson MEP Speaks At The TRAN Committee

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  1. Steve Rowe says:

    Well it appears that Chief Inspector Debbie Howard, Head of Road Policing in Lancashire has already picked up on one of Brian’s points “…and encourage governments to educate other road users about motorcycles” by their “What do I have to do to get you to notice me?” me campaign showing a road policing officer riding starkers on a bike as well as a similar officer dressed as a clown:

    http://www.lep.co.uk/news/local/naked-motorcyclist-to-draw-attention-to-cause-1-5789967

    http://www.blackpoolgazette.co.uk/news/local/campaign-to-highlight-motorcyclists-1-5793792

    In addition, is Brian aware that according to government statistics, road casualties have dropped to 1,754 a year – the lowest since records began in 1926, however, there has been unfortunately a 10% increase in another vulnerable road user and maybe they may require the EU’s attention more than motorcyclists – cyclists.

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