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Motorcycles as a Solution

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” Motorcycles as a Solution ” as part of transportation policy is good news for the recreational rider.

The annual May launch of Motorcycle Awareness Month rarely had such a stage as the Motorcycles OK Symposium, “Motorcycles as a Solution.” It was an unprecedented meeting with senior executives from the Motorcycle and Moped Industry Council of Canada, the Motorcycle Industry Council of the United States and Motorcycle Industry Association of the UK. 

As well, there was a strong local contingent from ICBC, Plug-in BC and the Ministry of Energy Mines and Petroleum Resources, Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure, Translink, and the Motorcyclists Confederation of Canada. 

This was truly a watershed moment.

The keynote presentation from Tony Campbell of the UK’s Motorcycle Industry Association (MCIA) was brilliant. He spoke of how the original “framework” ( continues as a sound argument for motorcycles in transport, and to show increased usage would actually improve road safety. 

Here’s the interesting part. As much success and merit as the framework has enjoyed, the association knew it could still connect better on a policy level with government. The safety message was strong, but not so much the larger being part-of-the- transportation-solution discussion.

So, the Framework team reframed the discussion. The approach was to position motorcycles as a “Light Powered Vehicle.”  In Europe L class transportation has seven levels, that covers off the two, three, and four-wheel categories. Motorcycles are L3. 

Attendees at Motorcycles as a Solution got an exclusive preview of the next version of the framework using this approach entitled, “The Route to Tomorrow’s Journeys.” It enhances the original framework, but adds a new urgency to the discussion around mobility, personal choices and the need to find greener solutions. The MCIA “Low Carbon Vehicle Partnership” is a good example of the sensible role that can be played by powered two wheelers.

Tony’s comments afterwards summed it up nicely:  “Powered Two Wheelers have and continue to play a key role within urban and suburban transport but appear to be the “forgotten means” by many authorities. During the last five years the MCIA have been working hard to change this way of thinking so we can really up the ante on how our Industry can contribute to the challenge of the future of mobility. The MCIA presented a sneak preview of its new Policy Framework “The Route to Tomorrow’s Journeys” at the Motorcycles OK event where feedback on the day and since the event has been extremely positive.

The day built on the Framework’s positive energy with a timely session from Plug-in BC and the Ministry of Energy Mines and Petroleum Resources. There is life with gasoline technology, but there is also a clear path towards the value of electric motorcycles and scooters. One interesting fact of the lower mainland is the price differential between gasoline and electricity. Also highlighted was the government purchase incentive program for electric motorcycles. It will increase as does model selection.

One of the electric highlights was a special appearance from Jay Giraud, Founder and CEO of Damon Motorcycle, along with their prototype motorcycle, which bristled with leading edge sensor technology, yet is a pleasantly conventional looking machine. Like a modern fighter jet, Damon’s 360 Advanced Warning System for Motorcycles (AWSM) uses embedded radar, cameras, and other sensors to track the speed, direction, and velocity of up to 64 objects at a time.

Translink then had the Motorcycles as a Solution stage to introduce the Transport 2050 blueprint It became evident as the sessions unfolded that the Symposium was going to have a positive influence on the planning. If you have gone on-line to fill out the Transport 2050 survey, motorcyclists will quickly notice the need for Translink to include motorcycle, scooters, and other powered two wheelers in the discussion. Every bit as much as bicycles, they promote a “green modal” shift from cars.

ICBC headed up the opportunities and challenges of rider training and insurance. Enhancing the standardization for consumers around rider training can only help. ICBC pointed out the reductions in premiums for some riders and the goal to be more in line with the rates offered by third party groups for optional coverage.  That’s a positive sign, considering the recent coroner reports have highlighted, motorcyclist speed was contributory to 38 per cent of deaths, and motorcyclist impairment to 34 per cent of deaths. Overall, motorcyclist/motorcycle factors contributed to 70 per cent of deaths.  

As promised, there is good news in all this discussion for the recreational rider. The reason is simple. More awareness for two wheelers, on any level, makes it safer for everyone. All the discussion around looking at motorcycles (and scooters) is positive messaging for all motorcycles. By extension, it can only help the recreational side of the equation.

 The idea of lane splitting and filtering did come up. The problem with that part of the discussion is it can only happen as part of a larger transportation policy. That takes time and education. 

There is a great view of the issue offered by a BC riding instructor. He noted that recreational riders tend to get all excited about the idea of lane splitting. Oh, how cool it will be. Commuter and utility riders are as enthusiastic, but much more sombre. They know that option comes with new rider responsibilities and more risk. 

Most riding instructors will point out the risk element with splitting and filtering is often the fact a rider suddenly has a dramatically reduced footprint on the road. There is simply less space to make evasive manoeuvres. 

The Symposium and Motorcycles as a Solution is a toehold for the discussion urgently needed to advance the thinking that motorcycles – powered two wheelers – are a positive force as Powered Light Vehicles. One of the take-aways for this event is that it puts the local (and Canadian) discussion of motorcycles on a global level.

“Think globally – Ride locally” has a whole new meaning.

• Paul McGeachie Canadian Biker Issue #343


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