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France: Government Withdraws From Motorcycle Rest Stops

  Posted at 08:00:00 AM
  File under  France Opinion Safety
  Author: Mike Werner
  Location: Normandy, France
click to see France on a map

As usual, national politics is a nest of worms, and France is no exception. The French government over the last few years has been hitting hard at that segment of the population that has little or no political impact; the bikers. Going after motorcycle riders is easy for them. It brings a lot of media attention (not to mention the money it generates), and the backwash is practically nonexistent, since there just aren't enough bikers to represent a big enough voting block.

Relais Motard Calmos logo
Over the last 2 decades, the French government had sponsored the FFMC Open link in a new window, the French motorcycle federation, initiative to place rest stops alongside the busy roads whenever there is a large event that draws a lot of motorcycles. Typically for events like the MotoGP, Superbike, Bol d'Or, 24 hours of Le Mans and the Enduropale will see motorcycle rest stops in many different parts of the country. The rest stops, called Relais Motards Calmos, are there to allow bikers to rest, eat, drink coffee, clean their visors, fill up their tires with air, do some minor engine repairs and many other free services.

Usually placed on a large parking area, the rests stops are well signposted along the way. 1,000's of bikers will stop on their way to the events after having been riding for hours. It is a well organized haven of peace and safety, since the bikers can stay for a while until they were sufficiently rested before going on to their destination (click here to read more about the Relais Motard Calmos Open link in a new window).

Relais Calmos 27

But as usual, things get fuddled before an election, specially when a government is strapped for cash. They have recently announced that they are stopping with co-financing the rest stops. On one hand the French government is saying that motorcycles are dangerous and need to respect the safety & security rules in place, but on the other hand, they remove an essential safety tool. The government has declared that it is up to the local communes and provinces/states to sponsor these initiatives if they want to, but it's no longer in the hands of the central government.

Reading the web, you can see the reactions of French bikers. Not only has the French government decided to stop helping with these rest stops, they have also moved the police into position around the rest stops. Almost anyone coming to one, will get stopped and checked. The end result; bikers will continue their route without stopping, with all dangers that come with it.

Of course, not all rest stops are infested with cops, and not all of them are not financed. Many are still functioning well, and the relationship with the local cops is fine. But for how long?

If you can read French, read this report Open link in a new window (or use the Google translator). You'll see what I mean with the reactions of the bikers.

Thank you French government for making our lives more dangerous.


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