I think it is fair to say the last year will have been a very different experience to what we expected at the start, and I’m sure we have all had better years. Since March life as we knew it came to a halt for most of us. Obviously COVID-19 has also had a great impact on motorcycling and on motorcyclists’ representation.
For the greatest part of 2020, the FEMA staff have had to work from home, and they have also had to adjust to a new way of meeting with stakeholders, politicians and representatives of the European Commission. I am proud to say they handled the change well and online calls, teleconferences and webinars are now part of their daily routine, so that our important work can continue.
As I said in my COVID-19 statement in March of this year, several FEMA organizations have had to cancel or postpone not just political meetings, but also their own internal meetings and fundraising events such as rallies. Right now, all of FEMA’s member organizations are working hard to come back strong in 2021, trying to organize meetings and rallies that are safe and COVID-19 proof.
Motorcycling is here to stay
Whether it’s from home or from an office in Brussels, in the new year that lies before us FEMA will keep working on the issues that will shape the future of motorcycling. It’s a long list but a couple stand out. In some parts of Europe roads are being closed to motorcycles as a result of a growing number of complaints about alleged nuisance by motorcyclists, especially sound. We have to keep working on appropriate answers to these complaints about sound emissions but let’s be very clear: travelling by motorcycle should not be restricted by road closures or other bans. Several national governments are considering a future ban on the sale of vehicles with internal combustion engines, a development that may – in the long run – have a huge impact on our choice of vehicle and on our lifestyle. Although FEMA understands and supports the further development and integration of electric vehicles, we will work for a future with electric motorcycles and motorcycles with an internal combustion engine side by side.
Unfortunately, 2021 will also be the year that we have to say goodbye to one of our member organizations, MAG Belgium. As a result of decreasing membership, it was getting harder and harder for MAG to stay financially stable and MAG’s board decided that MAG no longer had a future. I must thank all the volunteers that through the years have helped MAG Belgium, but especially thank former MAG staff member Ilonka van Drunen and chairman Theo Beeldens, who have done incredible work for the motorcyclists’ community and who have always been very strong advocates for riders’ rights, not just in Belgium, but in Europe as well.
Motorcycling needs you
For FEMA and all its national member organizations to survive it is crucial to have the support of as many individual riders as possible. So, make sure you renew your national membership (or join as a member today), so we can work together to keep our beloved bikes on the road.