EU eyes new motorcycle rules to cut deaths, pollution

Mon Oct 4, 2010 11:24am EDT

* Anti-lock braking systems could be mandatory after 2013

* Air pollutants to be regulated, CO2 dealt with later

By Pete Harrison

BRUSSELS, Oct 4 (Reuters) - The European Commission wants European motorbikes to come with advanced braking systems, cleaner engines and daytime headlights from 2013 as part of a phased crackdown on road deaths and pollution.

EU Industry Commissioner Antonio Tajani presented proposals on the new set of standards on Monday. They must be debated and approved by EU member countries before becoming law.

"We will considerably increase the safety of these vehicles and reduce their harmful emissions," he said.

Europe's motorcycle industry employs about 150,000 workers and includes brands such as Italy's Ducati and Germany's BMW (BMWG.DE).

The sector has been hit hard by the economic crisis, with sales about one third below pre-crisis levels, so industry body ACEM called for costly regulations to be phased in slowly.

"Competitiveness should have been more at the core of this document," said ACEM president Stefan Pierer.

Around 90 percent of manufacturing takes place in France, Italy, and Spain, including in some of Europe's worst-hit regions.

Toxic emissions from mopeds and motorbikes, such as nitrogen oxide and hydrocarbons, are to be tackled from 2014 onwards. The Commmission's proposals do not currently foresee a cap on the main gas blamed for climate change, carbon dioxide.

Instead it wants manufacturers to start reporting CO2 output and fuel efficiency from 2013 -- a typical first step that comes before a green labelling system to help consumers make fuel efficient choices.

The Commission dropped earlier suggestions that the power of motorcycles be capped, saying there was insufficient evidence that high powered motorbikes were more dangerous.

Medium- and high-performance bikes will have to be fitted with anti-lock braking systems to minimise skidding during emergency braking. Lower performance bikes will also face braking standards.

Over 5,500 motorcyclists died in 2008, at a rate 18 times greater than for car passengers. Every year in the EU between 30,000 and 72,000 motorcycle riders suffer a serious injury.

(Reporting by Pete Harrison; editing by Noah Barkin)

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