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French bikers plan massive protests for March

If you’ve been following my Euro-stories here on the blog, you’ll remember I wrote in this post back in the summer about attempts to ban seven year old vehicles from French city centres.

That story’s not gone away as some people hoped. Indeed, The French government has recently approved the proposals although no official date has yet been announced for their implementation.

So meet the politician behind the proposed ban. She’s Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet from the French green party. Unfortunately, she held the influential post of Minister for Ecology, Sustainable Development, Transport and Housing, although she’s just resigned at the end of February to take over out-going president Nicolas Sarkozy stuttering re-election campaign.

What she and her supporters want is that bikes, cars and other vehicles manufactured before 2004 to be excluded from French city centres. Enter the zone in or on such a vehicle and your machine or car would be immobilised and the rider issued with a fine of €65 euros payable on the spot.

This is all proposed in the name of reducing congestion and pollution in all cities with more than 100,000 inhabitants. There seems to be little environmentally-sound logic behind the proposal, given the arbitrary nature of a cut-off based on date of manufacturer alone, which will allow plenty of gas guzzlers to continue using the streets whilst banning small fuel-efficient cars and of course congestion-busting two wheelers.

The only beneficiaries would appear to be the manufacturers with stockpiles of unsold new models. Oh, and perhaps the scrap dealers as still-roadworthy vehicles are forced off the roads. That hardly seems to be a policy with much in the way of green credentials, though that perhaps not too surprising as ‘Écologie bleue’ leader Kosciusko-Morizet belongs to a centre-right party, the ‘Union pour un Mouvement Populaire’ (UMP).

The Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (which translates as ‘French Federation of Angry Bikers’) are planning a second series of demonstrations following on from those that brought many cities to a standstill last autumn to highlight this and the other proposed legislation that from 1 January 2013 will force all bikers riding machine over over 125cc in France (including you and me when we ride over the Channel) to wear an armband or reflective patch on the upper body.

They hope for more than 100,000 bikers to turn out on 24 and 25 March 2012. Let’s hope they can force a u-turn!

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