Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Motorcycles Sales & Beyond

Well to the bikers amongst you this will not be a huge surprise, but, motorcycle sales are up! Now sales have been rising generally year-on-year for most manufactures while the flood of cheap Chinese models have also helped. Yet this year will probably see an even greater boost thanks to the rising costs of fuel as when it comes to fuel efficient vehicles, motorcycles generally lead the way.

Here in Ireland this is best represented by looking at the official CSO figures for new vehicle licences (CLICK HERE), these figures do not even take into account second hand vehicle sales. In recent years we have even seen new insurance companies come into the market offering motorcycle insurance. Traditionally there were only 2 main players, one would insure first time riders at considerable expense while the other would insure you at a much cheaper rate, but only if you had at least 1 years experience. A cynic might say it was a nice little arrangement...

Then there are all the other aspects that go with motorcycling, cheap tax, the image, the sense of freedom, parking becomes much easier, the social aspect of getting waves and chats at traffic lights...basically if you get on a bike, go for a ride and do not enjoy it then I feel sorry for you.

Anyway, with a congestion charge due in Dublin within a few years we might be lucky enough to see a situation (similar to other European cities) were motorcycle are exempt from these charges. To further promote safe motorcycle use we should also hopefully see bus lanes opened to motorcycles as London has done due to a decrease in motorcycle fatalities by some 42% during trials! Though the governments fitting wire barriers separating motorway lanes is highly ill-advised as they have a 100% mortality rate in the EU with respect to motorcyclists.

Then now from July 1st we have the revised VRT (read: illegal double taxation by the government) rates being introduced designed to tax users of fuel inefficient vehicles and further bring down cost for those with efficient vehicles. Now I say 'vehicles', in reality it is just cars. The VRT rates for motorcycle will remain unchanged at €2 per cc up to 350cc then €1 per cc after that. Thus is on top of a VAT of 21% and all the associated duties. VRT is a further added tax which ministers are happy to admit that they will recoup some other way if the EU were to enforce its rules on double taxation. Yet for motorcycle rates to remain untouched seems very hypercritical, the most performance focused motorcycles can be more efficient then any hybrid car.

The government is not completely to blame though for the difficulty of readjusting VRT with respect to motorcycles as there are no industry standards for monitoring Co2 emissions from motorcycles. Each company will have their own methods, as they do for various other motorcycle specifications. Thus if the industry could come together and agree on a system then maybe policy makers could make appropriate considerations to motorcycles in this area. For further information on the revised car rates CLICK HERE.

I guess if one was to draw up a wish list with respect to motorcycle legislation it way go something like:

- No Toll or Congestion Charges (as we reduce congestion and road wear)
- Open the Bus Lanes (to further ease congestion and reduce accidents)
- Ban Wire Barriers (they are 100% lethal)
- Motorcycle 'Boxes' at traffic lights (like in Madrid & Barcelona)
- Garda run & free 'Bike Safe' training sessions through the summer
- Increasing driver awareness of motorcyclists through education and training
- Insurance companies offer discounts for riders wearing protective clothing
- Readjust VRT rates for motorcycles

I guess for any of the above to happen we will need not just to lobby the government more, but to push for the groups that should be lobbying for us to turn up the pressure. I am but one man at the end of the day ;-)

Keep the rubber side down.