BMF NEWS ROUND UP – February 2023

The monthly news round-up, brought to you by the BMF

Meetings and issues addressed by the BMF in February:

*MCIA Annual Conference. The government appears set on the phase out dates for petrol motorcycles proposed in the decarbonisation consultation – we will continue to engage with them on this.

*Motorcycle Strategy Group. Discussed potential changes to the legislation on training for motorcycle instructors, CBT and licensing changes plus the government’s delayed Road Safety Strategic Framework.

*ULEZ Expansion. Seems to be going ahead despite pushback. The BMF has lobbied for exemption for motorcycles, which seems to be a no-brainer given that many similar schemes do not charge bikes.

*Hackney Parking Charges. We continue to work alongside the NMC and the SaveLondonMotorcycling (Twitter) group on the Hackney parking charges.

*Cambridge Sustainable Travel Zone.  We submitted our response to the Greater Cambridge Partnership’s proposal, which would charge £5 a day to enter the city.

The big news this month was that all racing in Northern Ireland for 2023 has been cancelled. The ban, which applies to road racing, short circuits and trials, includes flagship races like the NW200 – sky-high public liability insurance quotes have been blamed.

Onto other news, there’s been a positive flurry of high-tech gizmos and patent applications this month, supposedly make motorcycling safer, less hassle and more efficient.

First off, Intellias revealed a system to prevent low speed drops. Most of us have known the dreaded embarrassment of a tarmac meeting at walking pace, and the Intellias system uses sensors around the bike to detect the signs, making a counter movement at the bars to prevent it. Meanwhile, Honda’s latest system aims at helping a post-crash situation – this one uses Bluetooth signals between a headset, bike sensors and your phone to detect whether you’re still upright, or lying in the road, and alerting the emergency services. In fact, Honda’s been busy, also working on a new navigation system which will detect bad weather ahead and reroute you round it. (Presumably if you like riding in the rain, you can select Soggy Mode). Finally, in the high-tech gizmo stakes we have BMW, which has a patent application on adaptive cooling. There’s actually nothing new about this, as cars have been using it for a while – computer-controlled radiator blinds shut off the rad when full cooling isn’t needed (much of the time) to improve aerodynamics. BMW reckons that the same tech applied to the latest liquid-cooled flat-twin could make the boxer more efficient. Are any of these ideas worthwhile? You decide.

Meanwhile, the EU is considering wide reaching changes to driving licence rules as part of DLD (Driving Licence Directive) No4, which could still affect us in the UK, depending on which EU laws we decide to retain. Possible measures include a smartphone digital licence, the ability to ride a 125 on a car licence and EU-wide driving bans. Jim Freeman, Chair of the BMF, isn’t holding his breath. “We’re currently working with the DVSA to review Training and Testing,” he said, “particularly at CBT level, where changes have been ‘on the books’ for some time. The 4th DLD is supposed to address some of the things that the 3rd DLD didn’t, we’ll see.”

In cities, beware the new breed of microcars, which could try and muscle in on motorcycle parking – an Italian court has just ruled that they can’t, but you know the saying about eternal vigilance… Research by Imperial College London shows that reducing exhaust emissions has brought particulate pollution from tyres and brake pads into focus – Michelin is working on ‘greener’ tyres made from recycled materials. This won’t have been a problem for Sinje Gottwald, who has just made the first unassisted ride across Africa by electric motorcycle – she apparently only had to charge the CAKE Kalk AP 140 times over 8000 miles. And finally, from the newest tech to the oldest, with Bonhams selling what is claimed to the oldest motorcycle in the world – the 1894 Hildebrand & Wolfmuller, a 1.5-litre twin capable of speeds approaching 30mph, went for about £175,000. Mind you, at least one BMF member reckons there were older steam-powered machines Make that the oldest petrol bike.

Written by Peter Henshaw – Editor BMF


End notes

Anna Zee – Political and Technical Services Director

Emily Rochester – BMF Government Relations Executive