France has brought forward the implementation of contrôle technique (MOT) requirement for two-wheeled vehicles of more than 125cm3 from January 1, 2023 to October 1 this year.
On January 1, 2022, EU legislation stipulating that motorbikes and mopeds must become subject to the roadworthiness tests came into force.
Contrôle technique rules had been announced by the French government in August, 2021, for a progressive imposition beginning in 2023. However, shortly after it outlined this time frame, the government suspended the scheme.
In response, three associations campaigning against air pollution – Respire, Ras le Scoot and Paris Sans Voiture – appealed to the government advisory body the Conseil d’État to take action.
They said that the suspension “was harmful to the public interest in terms of road safety and the protection of populations against air and noise pollution from vehicles.”
They added that: “in France, someone who rides a motorised two-wheeler is 22 times more likely to be the victim of a fatal accident than the driver of a light commercial vehicle [but that] this risk is lessened in states where the contrôle technique has already been put in place – 16 times more in Germany and 17 times more in Spain.”
Following these appeals, the Conseil d’État has now stated that: “considering the time period needed for the physical implementation of the contrôle technique, delaying its introduction beyond October 1, 2022, is not justified for older vehicles.”
The EU law on two-wheeler roadworthiness tests had included “an exception for states which have imposed and notified the European Commission of alternative road safety measures.”
However, the Conseil d’État judged that France’s government had not “put in place alternative safety measures which could justify contravening the EU law.”
The government had told the European Commission in December 2021 that it planned to introduce alternative measures, but the Conseil said that there were “neither the written statement nor records of the exchanges made during the hearing enabled us to determine the exact content of the envisaged steps.”
It added that: “in any case, whatever the contents of the notified measures were, they have not been put in place.”
Victoire pour la santé et l'écologie : nous avons obtenu par le Conseil d'Etat l'application du contrôle technique des 2 roues motorisés pour le 1er octobre 2022 ! @RasLeScoot @parisansvoiture @CamilleMialot @Conseil_Etat #CT2RM #2rm #AirPollution pic.twitter.com/qN8DNajNcv— Respire Association (@respireasso) May 17, 2022
Respire welcomed this decision, tweeting: “The Conseil d’État has given Élisabeth Borne’s government the opportunity to substantiate ecological ambitions.
“A victory for health and ecological [projects].”
However, some motorcyclists object to the development, with one, Éric, telling Franceinfo: “It won’t do much; I don’t see the point.
“From a safety point of view, I check [my bike] all the time. [On bikes] the body work is us! We only have our clothing and nothing else if we fall.”
Another rider, Bruno, added: “The fact that a motorbike passes its test doesn’t mean that there will be fewer accidents. I don’t see a direct link. Owners are already very careful: older motorbikes are already expensive to maintain.
“Let’s work on airbags for motorcyclists! Let’s work on safety systems! There are other ways to create good safety conditions for motorcyclists.”
A moped rider, Paul, said: “It will be an extra cost and I am against it.
“I saw a statistic from the Fédération française des motards en colère [motorcyclist body] which said, it seems, that 0.7% of [motorcycle] accidents are caused by a [mechanical] fault.”
The FFMC argues that contrôles techniques will not help to reduce air pollution, noise or the risk of accidents.
Federation spokesperson Eric Thiollier told Actu.fr that the Conseil d’État’s decision was “absurd, it is a legal mess: it is quite clear that those who have imposed it do not know what they are talking about.
“Nothing is ready, the mechanics are not trained, the factors involved in the checks are not yet known. It will not be feasible [to implement it] by October 1!”
It is estimated that contrôles techniques for motorcycles will come at a cost of €50-€70 for owners, although the exact figure is not yet known.
Motorbike sales surge in Europe
The latest update to two-wheeler contrôle technique requirements comes as motorbike and moped sales increase by 14.6% across France, Germany, Italy and Spain – compared to the same time last year – overtaking 2019 figures.
This is according to the Association des constructeurs européens de motocycles (Acem), which studied the number of such vehicles being registered in these countries.
However, the global shortage of semiconductors which is affecting the production of new cars is also impacting motorcycles, with distribution slowing slightly and some models becoming more difficult to find.