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News about the White Paper on Transport

The European Parliaments transport committee ‘stresses that motorcycles play a significant role in sustainable mobility, especially in urban areas where they contribute to tackling congestion and parking problems’.

In the transport committee  members of the European Parliament voted the 14th of July on the 625 amendments they submitted on  “Taking stock and the way forward towards sustainable mobility (2015/2005(INI))”, the draft report of Dutch MEP Wim van de Camp concerning the Implementation of the 2011 White Paper on Transport.

Fortunately Van de Camp had done his homework, so many amendments were put together in 41 Compromise Amendments. This way amendments about the same subjects, both corresponding and contradictory,  were swept along in one Compromise Amendment. These Compromise Amendments and the amended draft report were all adopted by the transport committee.

For European riders this means fairly good news, because the report “Taking stock and the way forward towards sustainable mobility” will, after the vote in the plenary meeting of the European Parliament later this year, be the input on behalf of the European Parliament to the mid-term review of the 2011 White Paper on Transport of the European Commission next year. This White Paper on Transport is the base of all proposed legislation concerning transport by the European Commission, which makes it a very important document. So why is this good news?

The first aspect is Road safety in general: in the original draft report there was no mentioning of vulnerable road users and/or motorcyclists in the clause regarding road safety. Amendment 301 has been adopted now: “actions to reduce accidents among vulnerable users, in particular users of two-wheeled vehicles, pedestrians in urban environments and older drivers”.

One road safety aspect is safe infrastructure. None of the relevant amendments were adopted as such. However this has come back in Compromise amendment 4 (paragraph 6b): “Stresses that the quality of road infrastructure, which has a direct impact on road safety, differs significantly across the EU and more than 90 percent of road accident deaths in the Member States occur on the urban and rural roads; stresses that efficient financing into this type of infrastructure has to be further promoted through different EU policies and instruments, especially in the cohesion countries”. The original draft report already contains this clause: “the extension, within the revision of Directive 2008/96/EC on road infrastructure safety management, of its four main measures to other parts of the road network, including all parts of motorways and rural and urban roads”.

Maybe most important for riders is what is stated on “sustainable urban mobility”: we were afraid that in the vision of  the European Parliament there would be only room for electric powered two-wheelers (PTWs) – including motorcycles – in urban areas in the future. Fortunately in the compromise amendment 9 (paragraph 11) the door has been left open: “Stresses that powered two-wheelers (motorcycles, scooters, mopeds), and increasingly e-powered two- and three-wheelers, play a significant role in sustainable mobility, especially in urban areas where they contribute to tackling congestion and parking problems as well as providing a solution for small logistics; insists therefore that the specific design and afferent benefits of these vehicles should be adequately taken into account and reflected in EU transport legislation and guidelines”.

Much is said last time about training and licensing. This was not part of the compromise amendments, but two amendments that we feel are important for us are adopted:
1.    Amendment 285: “review of the rules on training and qualifications of professional drivers, as well as the promotion and development of post-license training schemes for all vehicle users”
2.    Amendment 299: “review of the third Driving Licence Directive, in order to introduce
• mandatory training for drivers in new vehicle functions (driver assistance systems),
• a second phase for obtaining a driving licence,
• lifelong road safety education,
• a fitness test for drivers and
• a medical/psychological examination for traffic offenders, e.g. based on alcohol, drugs or aggression.”

Lastly something has been said about ITS: in some of the original amendments motorcycles were included in mandatory ITS features such as automatic braking and ISA (Intelligent Speed Adaptation). In the compromise amendment motorcycles are completely left out.

Of course we would have liked more emphasis on safer infrastructure for motorcyclists or some more on good initial training for drivers and riders, and we will keep fighting for that, but this whole package is as good as we might expect. The mentioning of motorcycles, and not only the electric ones, as contribution to tackling urban congestion and parking problems is something that has never been done before and therefore good and important news.