The European Union's plans to impose road worthiness tests on motorbikes and scooters has led to a strong reaction with more than 4,500 bikers protesting against the decision at the EU headquarters in Brussels on Saturday.
EU transport commissioner Slim Kallas wants to toughen technical tests on four-wheel vehicles and introduce regular compulsory testing for so-called powered two-wheelers in order to keep "potentially lethal" vehicles off the roads.
AdvertisementBut some bikers' groups believe his July proposal to set EU-wide rules are unnecessary and that the new plan is a sop to the vehicle inspection industry which stands to make bigger profits.
In a statement calling for protests across Europe on Saturday, the Federation of European Motorcyclists' Associations (FEMA) denounced the EU scheme as "useless and expensive".
It says the new system would bring an end to national regulations that in most cases work well, are cost-effective, and are adapted to the situation of two-wheelers in each country.
The cost of more regular testing for motorcyclists across Europe was estimated at 1.2 billion euros a year "with no benefits expected in terms of safety, as proven by several independent studies," the FEMA statement said.
"Only 0.3 percent of motorcycle accidents in Belgium and 0.6 percent in Europe are due to technical problems," Joe Verrecke, who heads Belgium's FBMC group, told the Belga news agency.
The FBMC, whose initials stand for the Belgian Federation of Angry Bikers, said after failing to note progress at talks with EU officials Saturday that it would ask the Belgian government Monday to oppose the plan.
Should the government refuse, the bikers will snarl work at Belgium's road worthiness centres, the FBMC said.