The owners of motorbikes, mopeds and licence-free cars with an engine size of 50cm³ or more will not have to put their vehicles through a contrôle technique (CT) roadworthiness test, despite the fact that this was due to become mandatory from October 1.
As recently as last week, the requirement was expected to theoretically come into force from this month – although a grace period would have been introduced while the technicalities were established – but now the government has stated that it has “alternative” plans.
The possibility of a CT requirement for two-wheelers and licence-free cars was first introduced by a 2014 EU law, which aimed to improve road safety and reduce pollution.
This new rule was due to come into effect in all member states in January 2022, but was pushed back to 2023 in France, before being suspended in August 2021 by President Emmanuel Macron, who said that it was “not the moment to annoy French people”.
However, several environmental organisations then appealed to the Conseil d’État – the state’s highest administrative court – asking for CTs on two-wheeled vehicles to be implemented “as soon as possible”, highlighting the positive impact that this could have on noise and exhaust emissions.
In May this year, the Conseil d’État then asked the government to follow the EU directive by October 1.
In July, the government issued a new decree in the Journal officiel, cancelling the obligation for France to follow a European Union directive requiring MOTs for two-wheelers.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the Conseil d’État swooped in one day after the decree appeared in the Journal officiel in July, and declared the decree illegal and contrary to the EU directive.
Therefore, it appeared that France was still required to introduce CT requirements for motorbikes and other affected vehicles from October 1, but in reality garages were not informed about the action they should take.
However, the fact that the initial decree detailing the two-wheeler CT requirement was repealed, in reality there is no law requiring people to comply.
France’s transport ministry has now announced that it will put in place “alternative measures” instead of imposing CT rules. In this, it follows countries including Finland, Ireland and the Netherlands.
These include reforms to the permis de conduire driving licence that motorbike riders must hold, the reinforcement of departmental road safety measures, improvements to infrastructures and rules requiring such vehicles to carry certain safety devices.
In order to tackle noise pollution, the state will also experiment with sound radar cameras which penalise motorcyclists whose vehicles are too loud, and plans to clamp down on unauthorised practices such as changing exhaust pipes.
With regards to air pollution, the transport ministry has said that the gradual implementation of zones à faibles émissions (low emission zones), which restrict the circulation of older, more polluting vehicles within city centres, should help.
These measures have been explained to the European Commission. If the Commission decides that these alternative steps will achieve the same objective as the CT requirement, France will be considered to be following the rules.
Until such a decision is made, the owners of motorbikes, mopeds and licence-free cars in France are not obliged to put their vehicles through a CT.
This has been welcomed by motorcyclists, with Jean-Luc Vrignaud of the Fédération française des motards en colère organisation telling Midi Libre: “What rider is stupid enough to use their motorbike with brakes which aren’t working? You know that the punishment for the rider will often be death.
“Nearly no accidents are caused by a problem with the maintenance of the vehicle.
“And they wanted us to spend €70 or €80 every two years, just because of a handful of ignorant people who do whatever they like?
“The ministry has understood [our point]. These alternative measures will enable [them] to target those who ride in an irresponsible way.”