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Romanian motorcyclists defeat unfair environmental tax

Romanian motorcyclists have been successfully fighting plans from local authorities in Bucharest to implement an environmental tax on all cars and motorcycles.

Romanian FEMA member MotoADN wanted to exclude motorcycles and scooters from this tax and they have won: motorcycles and scooters are excluded and will not pay the tax.

Recently, the City Hall of Bucharest proposed a project to regulate traffic in the capital, in order to improve the air quality. MotoADN welcomed the initiative and appreciates the public discussion of this topic. MotoADN has analysed the new provisions both from the perspective of developing two-wheel riding and protecting the interests of those who use powered two-wheelers for commuting.

According to this project, all vehicles with a total weight less than 5 tonnes, including motorcycles and scooters, that travel inside the Bucharest Municipality will be subject to a local regulation regarding the protection of air quality. City Hall defines an air quality protection/control area in the city centre of approximately 10.000 square kilometres. In this area the access control is as follows:
– Euro4, Euro5, Euro6: free access
– Euro3: access with a fix fee / day / month / year
– Euro2, Euro1 and non-Euro: no Access

Although MotoADN thinks the idea of the project is a very good one, the implementation can bring some trouble. From the point of view of those whose interests they want to protect – the owners of motorcycles and scooters – MotoADN considers that putting motorcycles and scooters on the same level with cars, is not appropriate nor correct. It could even be discriminatory for the following reasons:

EURO pollution norms are different from motorcycles to cars.
Even though they all have similar names, like Euro1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, they cannot be compared to each other. For cars, the newest norm is Euro6, while for motorcycles the newest is Euro5, starting from 2020.

Air quality is less affected by motorcycles and scooters than by cars.
It should be mentioned from the outset that air pollution and air quality are two different things. While pollution refers only to chemical compounds, air quality also refers to solid particles left in suspension, such as those generated by the use of brake pads or those caused by tire wear when rolling and braking. The most recent studies on air quality conclude that motorcycles and scooters have a low impact on air quality, an impact that is even smaller than that of an electric car, which is less that of a car that complies with the Euro6 pollution rules. According to ANSAS (French Agency for Health and the Environment) motorcycles and scooters approved according to EURO rules, have the least impact on air quality.

Discouraging the use of motorcycles and scooters, by applying the same taxes as for cars will lead people to give up using powered two-wheelers. This will lead to a substantial increase in pressure on the public transport network and road structure. The benefits of scooters and motorcycles are also underlined by the European policies favouring their use for increasing mobility, decongestion of traffic and parking, the proper use of infrastructure, etc.

MotoADN is of the opinion that the uniform application of the decision of the Bucharest Local Authorities would be a discrimination for the users of powered two-wheelers, both regarding the application of incorrect pollution rules, and the use of a tariff that does not reflect the fact that a motorcycle affects the air quality much less than a car. Also, the similar treatment of powered two-wheelers with that of vehicles up to 5 tons would be a derogation from the current practices regarding the use of motorcycles – local taxes are much lower when compared to a car, no road tax is charged, and no bridge fees are paid.