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Finnish government: ‘Ride a motorcycle!’

It sounds like a joke, but it is true: the Finnish government urges people to ride motorcycles to reach its emission targets. New motorcycles and mopeds are needed for traffic to reach the 2030 climate goals.

“A moped or motorcycle, as part of the transport chain, can offer a more environmentally friendly alternative”, says the Finnish Ministry of Transport and Communications, which is currently writing a moped and motorcycle strategy together with motorcyclists’ organizations.

This is also part of FEMA member organization SMOTO’s powered two-wheeler strategy, which was published just a couple of weeks ago. SMOTO’s powered two-wheeler strategy is to ensure the equal treatment of motorcycles and mopeds with other means of transportation. It is about security, taxation, legislation, road infrastructure and motorcyclist as part of a transport system.

For many it may come as a surprise that the ministry’s goal is to improve the conditions for moped and motorcycling. The ministry is aware that motorcycling raises great emotions, but when you think about it, it makes sense to promote motorcycling. As SMOTO also notes, motorcycles are part of a sustainable transport policy that reduces traffic congestion and emissions. The space needed for motorcycles is much smaller than cars, and parking spots for motorcycles increase their usability for work and business travel.

Motorcycles are part of a sustainable transport policy

The problem is that the average age of motorcycles in Finland is 19.1 years old. Motorcycles run 2% of the total traffic mileage, but account for more than 14% of carbon monoxide emissions and 16% of hydrocarbon emissions. But change is coming: by 2030 environmental requirements will be very strict and will also apply to mopeds and motorcycles.

In the strategy currently being worked out by the ministry and SMOTO, mopeds and motorcycles are seen as a serious way of moving in the future. The legislator may, if desired, refine the traffic regulations so that powered two-wheelers may have some advantages over the current rules. Motorcycles could for example be allowed to park freely and free of charge like mopeds or even get the right to ride on certain lanes, like bus lanes. The focus of taxation can also be shifted so that the purchase of a new and a less polluting motorcycle would be advantageous. With taxation, the state can influence the way that people are moving.

Insurance – The ministry started to develop its moped and motorcycle strategy in June by inviting a motorcyclist’s organizations for a conversation. In Finland, the insurance is vehicle-specific, where in many other countries the price of insurance is tied to the rider. But there is pressure on insurance changes because the development of security technology and security attitude makes motorcycles more secure. Insurance companies would have less to compensate. For example: in 2017 there were ‘only’ 12 fatal motorcycle accidents in Finland. The number of accidents has been decreasing for more than a decade, even if the number of motorcycles has increased.

Electric motorcycles – The motorcycle is a personal matter and has not traditionally been borrowed or rented. The rental of electro scooters in Europe however, is rapidly becoming popular. Electric motorcycles are clearly a growing trend, but in Finland the enthusiasm has faded in the past few years. One reason is that the use of moped or motorcycle as a means of work transportation is rare and the winter is long. In many European cities an electric moped can be rented for half an hour for a couple of euros. In Finland it is difficult to imagine making money with a service that is not useful for five months every year.

Written by Jussi Katajainen (SMOTO)

FEMA has two member organizations in Finland: SMOTO and MP69.