More than 4,500 angry bikers roared around European Union headquarters Saturday to protest plans by Brussels to introduce regular road-worthiness tests on motorbikes and scooters, Belgian police said.
EU transport commissioner Slim Kallas wants to toughen technical tests on four-wheel vehicles and introduce regular compulsory testing for so-called powered two-wheelers in order to keep "potentially lethal" vehicles off the roads.
But some bikers' groups believe his July proposal to set EU-wide rules are unnecessary and that the new plan is a sop to the vehicle inspection industry which stands to make bigger profits.
In a statement calling for protests across Europe on Saturday, the Federation of European Motorcyclists' Associations (FEMA) denounced the EU scheme as "useless and expensive".
It says the new system would bring an end to national regulations that in most cases work well, are cost-effective, and are adapted to the situation of two-wheelers in each country.
The cost of more regular testing for motorcyclists across Europe was estimated at 1.2 billion euros a year "with no benefits expected in terms of safety, as proven by several independent studies," the FEMA statement said.
"Only 0.3 percent of motorcycle accidents in Belgium and 0.6 percent in Europe are due to technical problems," Joe Verrecke, who heads Belgium's FBMC group, told the Belga news agency.
The FBMC, whose initials stand for the Belgian Federation of Angry Bikers, said after failing to note progress at talks with EU officials Saturday that it would ask the Belgian government Monday to oppose the plan.
Should the government refuse, the bikers will snarl work at Belgium's road worthiness centres, the FBMC said.
[Image via Agence France-Presse]