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France: Score 2 For The Motorcycle Movement

  Posted at 09:00:00 PM
  File under  France Protests
  Author: Mike Werner
  Location: Normandy, France
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For a few years now, the French have been up in arms with the current Sarkozy government. His biggest claim to fame has been reducing the number of deaths on the French roads, in fact by almost 50%. This was accomplished, with a lot of groaning & moaning, with the installation of some 2,000 high tech radars.

They were more or less accepted because the French knew that it was needed. They protested, but not that hard, more for the form. And then things went south. The government started piling repression onto repression, so much so that people started rolling out the guillotine from the cellars, sharpening the blade and oiling them with garlic oil.

All drivers were targeted, but motorcycle riders were targeted even more. So last weekend they said "enough is enough" but they said it with a French accent, sounding something like E-nuff ez E-nuff.  Out came the protest manuals and procedures, and some 75,000 to 100,000 motorcycles took to the streets around France, and blocked most cities (click here to see a full report Open link in a new window). The bikers were in many cities and for the first time, they were supported by other road users; cars, trucks and taxi. It was a signal that could not be ignored by the government, especially not before the presidential elections of next year.

Click for bigger version of Motorcycle Protest Rouen 2012
Open image in a new window

Even before the protests started, the government back-pedaled on their objective of outlawing devices that showed you where the radars were placed, like GPS, Smartphones and specialized devices. The way to save face from the enormous protest from the 8 million users of such devices was to say that they can continue using the devices but that the device can no longer say "RADAR" but now instead must mentioned "DANGER ZONE" (article Open link in a new window). Fine, no problem with that. When you see "DANGER ZONE" on your iPhone, it just means there's a radar up ahead.

Then last Saturday came the massive protest. One day later, the first government step back, this time in the motorcycle world. The Minister of Interrior said in a TV talk-show that he was misunderstood with the new proposed law making fluo hi-viz vests, yellow or orange, mandatory. He stated that he meant reflective stripes on the jacket.... spin-doctoring as an art. Score: 1 - 0 for the movement (article Open link in a new window).

France Radar New sign
Click for bigger version of Pedagogic Radar
Open image in a new window
Today the same Minister of Interior declared that the other big objection, the disappearance of the upcoming radar warning panels (they placed warning signs that a radar was up ahead), would be rescinded and instead of a warning that a radar was up ahead, he was replacing the warning sign with a pedagogic radar.

In other words. a radar that shows you the speed you are traveling at, how much too fast you are going, and what it would have cost you if that was a real radar; fine and license points reduction. Then the real radar will appear, but then your speed will have been reduced... right? If not, you deserve to be fined.

Nice. The only downside, apparently the pedagogic radar may not always be placed before a radar, it might be placed behind one.... but no mention if you'll still be warned.

Score 2 - 0 for the movement, or if you count the radar device warning, Score 3 - 0.

Radar Photographed Sign

Not much is left over from the original protest reasons. In the motorcycle world we still have the bigger license plates issue (they want to increase the size of the motorcycle license plate, so that the cops can read them easier), and a few smaller items. The 100 hp limitation for motorcycle is still up in the air, but I presume that will be settled.

As you can see, protests do work. It worked in Tunisia, it worked in Egypt, and it will work in Libya, Syria and Yemen, so it also worked in France. If you need help organizing a motorcycle protest, contact the FFMC Open link in a new window (French Angry Biker Association).

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