With inflation worries and the rising cost of just about everything, the Federation of European Motorcyclists’ Associations issued an impassioned plea for motorcycle affordability in November, 2022. In particular, FEMA general secretary Dolf Willigers spelled out FEMA’s position on keeping motorcycle taxes reasonable, as well as taking other measures to encourage motorbike ridership as a viable form of everyday transport.
Lowering our collective carbon emissions is an absolutely important and vital goal—and one that FEMA argues motorbikes should absolutely be part of. While combustion motorbikes do produce some level of emissions, the majority produce fewer emissions than combustion cars and trucks. Battery electric vehicles are part of the solution—but they’re also comparatively expensive in 2022, and both the commodity and human costs of integral elements like lithium cannot be ignored.
In urban centers with public transportation infrastructure, that can also be part of the solution. However, just as the worldwide COVID pandemic hit most industries hard, it also impacted public transportation negatively. As ridership (understandably) decreased, transportation systems didn’t schedule as many runs down routes with low ridership. In many cases, they also increased fares for the riders who did remain. These factors meant that riders with access to other transportation options were more likely to choose those other means of transport.
That, FEMA argues, is exactly where two-wheeled transport can come in, for all the reasons you’re used to hearing. In European markets, where a wide variety of commuter electric two wheelers are available, they’re also similarly affordable to combustion commuter motorcycles. Premium electric motorcycles are more expensive—but then again, so are premium combustion motorcycles. The point is that riders have a variety of choices that can help get them where they need to go in an affordable and carbon-reducing manner.
Above all, Willigers stresses, FEMA believes that motorcycles can be a strong tool in the fight against transport poverty. As you might guess from the name, that’s when the cost of transport to simply live your life (get to and from work and/or school) is prohibitively expensive.
That’s why FEMA encourages governmental and legislative bodies to do what they can to encourage ridership. For example, taxes on motorbikes should be lower than those found on cars, because they’re smaller and lighter in weight, and they cause less wear and tear on public roadways.
Similarly, FEMA also discourages restrictions on motorbikes in urban city centers when they’re ideal vehicles for getting around congested city streets, and can help reduce traffic if more people are encouraged to choose bikes over cars.
Bicycles and e-bikes are great, and have their place—but so do motorbikes. If you’ve only ever ridden in the U.S., this argument may not resonate with you, because there simply aren’t as many moto commuters here as there are in most other countries in the world. However, moto commuting is a way of life for all kinds of everyday people in many countries, and is highly valued for its practicality. FEMA wants to see more legislative encouragement of moto commuting as a way to combat multiple transport problems across Europe.