By Joseph Willits
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Keen biker and Hove and Portslade MP, Mike Weatherley, didn't quite get into his leathers today in Brussels, but he did join motorcycling protestors outside the European Parliament. Riders' rights groups have been urging fellow motor cyclists to take part in a day of action against proposed EU regulations. The proposals would force bikers to wear fluorescent clothing, and would not allow any customisation of motorbikes.
Weatherley, who in September led a convoy of bikers in protest into Brighton city centre, said that "for many motor cyclists, tuning, improving and transforming their machines is a large part of the satisfaction of owning a bike. These proposals will ruin that." He stressed that riders were "in favour of responsibility and safety on the roads", but over regulation, and these "intrusive measures"were not the answer. If bikers were forced to wear flurosecent clothing, Weatherley asked where the measures would end:
"Will there be reflective strips on all motor cars, and will all pedestrians have to wear high-visibility jackets every time they walk out to the shops?"
Weatherley accused the EU of regulating biking "out of existence" and taking away the freedom of motor cycling, instead of encouraging a way of transport which aids both congestion and the environment. EU proposals would prove very costly to the average biker, making anti-lock (ABS) brakes compulsory and subjecting motor cycles to three MOT tests a year. Weatherley also said:
"Bikes also face unfair vehicle excise duty. How come a 1200cc car pays no road tax if it is lean burn, but a motor cycle returning similar figures will be taxed 75 pounds a year?"
On 26th September, bikers from all over the country took part in "go-slow" protests organised by biking groups. Travelling at 45mph, and in the inside lanes, the aim of the "go-slow" protest was to raise awareness about the damaging EU regulations. Wycombe MP Steve Baker, as well as Mike Weatherley, took part in a protest in his constituency. He said:
"Of course this protest is focused on motorcycles but it matters to everyone who loves liberty and who thinks state power should be restrained by democracyThose behind the EU do not mean to harm us, they mean to help, but they must be stopped from turning all Europe into a graveyard for the human spirit."
An e-petition against the EU's proposals has so far attracted over 7,000 signatures.