Europe would benefit from proposed new rules for motorbike safety and environmental performance, but the industry's capacity to adapt will need to be taken into account, according to views expressed at a hearing in the European Parliament last week.

The hearing in the Parliament's internal market committee concerns a legislative proposal to update rules for L category vehicles, which include light powered two-wheeled vehicles from mopeds to motorbikes, as well as three-wheeled vehicles and quads.

Committee Chair Malcolm Harbour (ECR, UK) noted that the Commission proposal to improve safety and environmental performance also raises a number of economic issues. Rapporteur Wim van de Camp (EPP, NL) commented that the exact scope for new rules and the timetable for introducing new measures would be major points in the discussion.

Road safety

L type vehicles represent 2% of distance travelled in the EU, but 16% of road deaths. Both rider behaviour and technical measures are critical factors. Luca Pascotto, from the Federation International de l'Automobile considered anti-lock braking systems (ABS) to be a promising technology that needed to be combined with updating driver's skills.

Environmental performance

Bertrand-Oliver Ducreux presented French environmental agency ADEME's analysis of fuel consumption efficiency and durability of different classifications of bikes. Some fuel injection models were found to exceed current carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide emission limits.

The road ahead

The proposal will be voted in the committee in October 2011 before it goes to the European Parliament plenary.