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Thousands of angry French bikers take up the streets

Manif 12 avril 2014 1Once again, France has today been the scene of enormous demonstrations with thousands of motorcyclists gathering in every city across the nation and protesting at the newly proposed speed limit of 80 km per hour on the national road network.

The French government has recently proposed to limit the speed to 80 km per hour on the non-motorway network in an attempt to reduce the number of accidents and casualties on the roads. A large number of bikers fundamentally disagree with the proposal stating that speed is not the main cause of accidents but rather the complete lack of adequate training offered by the government to make drivers realise that driving safely is all about respecting the highway code and learning how to share the roads with other users. The angry bikers accuse the government of wanting to impose draconian measures in the sole attempt to cash in extra euros from road users who simply won’t respect the proposed speed limits.

Manif 12 avril 2014 2Paris alone saw more than 5,000 angry bikers blocking the city centre for hours and bringing it to a complete standstill. “We will never accept to be treated like cash cows by our government just because we refuse to follow stupid rules. We demand better training, improved road infrastructure, access to bus lanes, to name a few. Simply reducing speed limits does not help drivers improve their driving habits and learn how to share the roads with motorcyclists”, says Damien, a frustrated motorbiker we interviewed this afternoon during the Paris protest. The French capital was brought to a complete stop during a busy shopping afternoon and thousands of angry bikers also gathered outside the head council offices to remind the newly elected mayor, Anne Hidalgo, that she’d better keep her promise to maintain motorcycle parking free of charge in Paris if she doesn’t want to have to cope with regular and highly disruptive bikers’ demonstrations.

Manif 12 avril 2014 3Other cities across France also saw massive protests today with thousands of angry motorcyclists showing their opposition to the reduced speed limit. Lyon, the second largest French city, was also paralysed this afternoon with thousands of bikers blocking the city centre and protesting at the new speed restrictions. A number of key roads and junctions had to close in the heart of Lyon as they were taken over by the angry bikers. Protests took place in 80 towns and cities across the country and were all organised by regional branches of the extremely respected and powerful Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (FFMC) also known in English as the French Federation of Angry Bikers.

A number of fellow bikers in the United Kingdom have been following the actions undertaken by their French cousins with deep interest. “We very much admire our French colleagues for their determination to fight every piece of anti-bike legislation. Unfortunately, in the U.K. bikers tend to accept government spin and don’t have the courage to say no to stupid laws like the French do. We don’t have such a powerful body like the FFMC and I wish we had one. Vive la France!”, said Graham, a London based biker.

The French government will further discuss the proposals in May and a decision will be made by the end of the year. The bikers are prepared to take up the streets again if need be to express their on-going anger.

We now leave you with a few videos which will give you an idea of how angry French bikers were today…

Motorcycle parking in Paris under fire

Protest 1st Feb 2014

Thousands of motorcyclists protest at the lack of parking spaces in central Paris.

With more than 150,000 motorcyclists riding across the heart of the French capital every day, bikers expect the local authorities to provide sufficient and adequate parking facilities to meet the ever increasing demand. Unfortunately, there is a serious lack of motorcycle parking bays and spaces in Paris meaning that more and more bikers have no alternative other than park on pavements, especially during rush hour on a busy working day. Unless you leave home early enough in the morning to find a space within walking distance to your final destination, you either find yourself riding around for a good 20 minutes to finally find a space or park on the pavement hoping that you won’t get a nasty ticket even if your bike doesn’t obstruct the pedestrian path.

Some time ago, we published a post in which we explained that 2,500 on street car parking spaces in Paris were being converted into free motorcycle spaces to meet increased demand. We also compared this wonderful initiative with that of the central London council of Westminster who decided to charge for motorcycle parking in an attempt to decrease demand for a mode of transport that reduces congestion and pollution and also offers an affordable transport solution for those in financial difficulties. Today, whilst Westminster Council continues to charge bikers for parking, resulting in many parking bays being constantly empty or severely under utilised, the number of bikers in Paris keep rising and no more parking spaces/facilities are being offered to them. Unlike London, Paris does not operate a congestion charge (and has no intention of doing so), so the city is extremely congested and one would hope that the local authorities would encourage the use of motorcycles to reduce congestion by providing enough parking spaces for all.

Thousands of bikers gathered in central Paris last Saturday (1st February 2014) to protest at the lack of parking spaces and demanded a thorough review of the existing parking arrangements for motorcycles. The demonstration was organised by the most respected and powerful “Fédération Française des Motards en Colère” (The French Federation of Angry Bikers) – also known as FFMC – just one month ahead of the mayor elections to make all candidates realise that they must consider motorcycle parking as a top priority in their agenda or else face the consequences and inconvenience of repetitive demonstrations that could cause traffic chaos in the French capital.

“We want more parking spaces and will carry on protesting until we obtain what we want. Motorcycling should be encouraged rather than restrained, as our mode of transport is the solution to congestion problems in large cities such as Paris. The FFMC has made proposals to the local authorities on how to increase the number of parking spaces by maximising space utilisation and using areas on the pavement that do not obstruct pedestrians in any way. All they have to do is listen to us and we will stop our protests”, said Pierre, an angry biker who commutes from outside Paris on his 1,200cc motorbike every day.

We now leave you with a few videos of the protest that will give you an idea of its magnitude. This is one of many protests to come if the local authorities continue to behave like “we can’t see you, we can’t hear you”.


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If you’re based in France and want to take part in the fight against the Government’s continued policy to ban motorcyclists from filtering through traffic, then contact the Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (FFMC – French Federation of Angry Bikers).

Si vous habitez en France et souhaitez participer aux manifestations pour la circulation inter files des motocyclistes dans les embouteillages, contactez la Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (FFMC).

Reduced speed limit on the Paris “périphérique” causes frustration for bikers

It is now official: the speed limit on the Paris “périphérique” (the ring road that encircles the French capital) has been reduced to 70km/hour from 80km/hour (that is 44 miles/hour from 50 miles/hour) and all the signs have now been replaced with new ones (at a total cost of 22,500 euros) to enforce the new speed limit.

Peripherique's new speed limit

The “périphérique” has seen its first speed limit reduction in 40 years as the maximum authorised speed had been capped to 80km/hour for all this time. The official reasoning behind the change doesn’t make sense. The authorities claim that the speed limit reduction will generate less noise, pollution and fewer accidents on a road that is used by 1.3 million motorists daily. The reality is that the “périphérique” can literally be a car park, where thousands upon thousands of motorists get stuck in endless traffic jams throughout the day. The average speed during the day on the “périphérique” is 37 km/hour, so where is the logic behind the new speed limit? There will hardly be any reduction in the number of accidents during the day and the noise and pollution will remain the same. This is just another piece of spin from the authorities to make Parisians blindly accept the new rule. The only viable way to significantly reduce noise and pollution is to encourage people to get rid of their car in one way or another or, at least, switch to a more recent and less polluting car.

It is highly unlikely that many motorists will be caught speeding during the day because of the massive traffic jams, however, overnight this might be a complete different story. The “périphérique” is obviously massively less busy overnight and this is when the 14 speed cameras that have been installed all around the ring road will generate a small fortune for the local authorities.

For motorcyclists, the situation may well be different and, in fact, extremely frustrating. It is still illegal to filter (lane split) through stationary or low speed traffic in France, so in addition to ensuring that bikers don’t ride over the new 70km/hour speed limit at any time, they are expected to remain stuck in traffic, like cars do! If you’re a biker in the United Kingdom, where filtering through stationary (or low speed) traffic is perfectly legal, imagine yourself forced to remain stationary in between cars although there is plenty of space ahead and aside for you to ride through.

Anyway, all this has generated a cost for the local council of 22,500 euros (18,750 pounds sterling) to get all the signs changed and the old ones disposed of. Is it really worth it?
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If you’re based in France and want to take part in the fight against the Government’s continued policy to ban motorcyclists from filtering through traffic, then contact the Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (FFMC – French Federation of Angry Bikers).

Si vous habitez en France et souhaitez participer aux manifestations pour la circulation inter files des motocyclistes dans les embouteillages, contactez la Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (FFMC).

The biggest biker gatherings in the UK

Biker GatheringsThere’s little which most motorcyclists enjoy more than getting on board their machines and heading off to meet other bikers.

In terms of their love for their ‘wheels’, there is unlikely to be any other group of road users who make use of their transport so regularly to meet up with others who share their passion.

But then again, apart from trucking – whose fraternity also counts a surprising number of bike fans – no other types of wheels brings with them a sense of belonging to a distinct group of road users like a motorbike.

So for the uninitiated, here is a list of some of the biggest biker events which take place regularly around the UK. Space prevents the inclusion of the many other rallies and ride-outs organised by the multitude of private clubs in all parts of England, Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales, but most clubs have a website these days on which such details can be found.

Isle of Man TT and TT Classic

The TT is more than just a race around nearly 38 miles of roads on this island in the Irish Sea – it’s a biking institution.

The event has grown from a simple race to a two-week celebration of biking skills and daring, comprising a series of organised races, along with the chance for bikers of all ages and abilities to ride the course, along public roads, themselves.

Those showpiece races, though, involve riders hitting speeds of up to 180mph on some of the long, fast straights, and then putting their bikes through tremendous strains as they slow down for the twistier bits.

The TT Classic, as the name implies, is a similar event, which sees riders of the classic racing bikes of years gone by compete around the course. This is held over the August bank holiday weekend.

British Superbikes Championship

If you have a need for speed, then the British Superbikes Championship is one of the best ways to satisfy it.

Twelve race rounds take place each year between early April and late October, around such famous racing circuits as Brands Hatch, Silverstone, Donington Park and Oulton Park. The bikes being raced are close to standard production models – albeit at the top end of the range, with 1,000cc engines, producing up to 200 brake horsepower. Private teams can enter alongside the so-called works teams, which have the full backing of resources and technical know-how from top bike manufactures such as Honda, Ducati, Yamaha and Suzuki.

Again, events are stretched out over a three-day weekend, which culminates in two races on the last one, and there are support races designed to encourage younger riders and private competitors, making this the nearest equivalent the sport has to Formula 1.

Goodwood Festival of Speed

While this mid-July annual event focuses on the greatest cars ever to compete on the track, bikes are getting more of a look-in. It’s all about being able to get close to the bikes, and the riders who made them famous, with the organisers pulling out the stops to get as many of both gathered. A ticket-only event, it’s always sold out well ahead of the three days themselves.

Motorcycle Live, Birmingham, and London Motorcycle Show

These are the biking world’s equivalent of the Motor Show, where the latest hardwear and all other associated products are shown off by the trade. Large programmes of live entertainment have also grown up around them, featuring music and celebrity PAs, and there are loads of stalls to tempt attendees to part with their cash and find out more about anything to do with bikes.

BSH Xtreme

A custom bike show, but on a massive scale, this also features stunt bike shows, as well as modern and classic modified bikes and demonstrations of the bike-builder’s art.

There’s also an associated event organised by the Motorcycle Action Group, which features camping, a bar and evening entertainment. However, Xtreme and the so-called MAG Bash are separate events, so tickets must be bought individually.

This is a guest post written by Jonathon Butterworth, who is a freelance blogger currently writing in conjunction with Sorrymate the biking specialists.
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If you’re based in France and want to take part in the fight against the Government’s continued policy to ban motorcyclists from filtering through traffic, then contact the Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (FFMC – French Federation of Angry Bikers).

Si vous habitez en France et souhaitez participer aux manifestations pour la circulation inter files des motocyclistes dans les embouteillages, contactez la Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (FFMC).

French bikers: keep watching your speed whilst touring Europe

French speed signWe published a post a couple of months ago where we explained that France and Spain had agreed to exchange vehicle registration data, as it is now more and more the case between member states of the European Union. This means that car drivers and motorcycle riders caught speeding, going through red traffic lights, driving/riding under excess of alcohol or more generally breaching the highway code of the EU member state they are visiting, will eventually find a nasty and expensive fine at their doorstep in their country of origin.

The French authorities have successfully continued to secure vehicle registration data exchange agreements with other European countries. France and the Netherlands have recently signed such agreements, which means that any biker/car driver registered in France or Holland and found breaching the local road regulations in the other country will be sent (recorded delivery) a nasty fine at home on their return.

This may be confusing for a number of road users because speed and alcohol consumption limits are still not totally harmonised across the European Union, which means that each member state may impose its own regulations, within reason. Drivers/riders registered in France are therefore strongly advised to familiarise themselves with the road regulations of the European country they wish to visit to avoid receiving a ticket at home.

Three member states of the European Union have (so far) refused to enter into vehicle data exchange agreements. These are Denmark, the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom, so UK bikers/drivers do not face the risk of receiving a fine at home should they mis-behave on the European continent. However, UK bikers/drivers still face the risk of having to pay a fine on the spot if caught by a cop on a continental road.

We have yet to see what happens if a driver/biker refuses to pay the fine once back home, as it is our understanding that the recovery of the monies due are under the full and sole responsibility of the country which issued the fine in the first place. So if a French biker caught mis-behaving on the road whilst visiting the Netherlands decides to ignore the fine once back home, we have yet to see whether the Dutch authorities would turn up at the biker’s doorstep in France to demand payment. The same principle applies to any other EU country with which France has signed vehicle data exchange agreements.

If you have experienced the receipt of a fine from another EU country as a result of breaching the local highway code in any way, please do not hesitate to leave a comment and share your experience with us and other readers.

Further reading (in French): Infractions routières: un nouvel accord entre les Pays-Bas et la France

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If you’re based in France and want to take part in the fight against the Government’s continued policy to ban motorcyclists from filtering through traffic, then contact the Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (FFMC – French Federation of Angry Bikers).

Si vous habitez en France et souhaitez participer aux manifestations pour la circulation inter files des motocyclistes dans les embouteillages, contactez la Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (FFMC).

French registered bikers: watch your speed whilst in Spain

Spanish speed signAs of 1st August 2013, all drivers or riders of vehicles registered in France who get caught either going through a red traffic light or speeding in Spain will see a fine posted to their home address in France by the Spanish authorities. The same rule applies to Spanish registered drivers or riders whilst in France, who will also receive a fine from the French authorities at their home address in Spain. The two countries have agreed to exchange vehicle registration data, as it is more and more the case between member states of the European Union.

The current heatwave is a perfect occasion to visit Spain by motorbike, but if your motorbike is registered in France, you are strongly advised to keep an eye on your speed at all times. You may be caught by a hidden automatic speed camera and find an unexpected fine on your doorstep on your return from holiday. This has got nothing to do with nationality. UK nationals resident in France who ride a motorcycle registered in France and spend some time touring Spain must be aware of this new rule. We are not aware of the existence of a similar agreement between the UK and France or Spain as yet.

According to Le Parisien, 450,000 drivers/riders registered in Spain got caught by French automatic speed cameras in 2012 and 130,000 drivers/riders registered in France got caught in Spain in the same year and walked away without paying any fine. The split between cars and bikes is unknown but, nevertheless, the rule applies to all registered vehicles regardless of how many wheels they may have.

A similar agreement already exists between France, Belgium, Luxembourg and Switzerland, although the latter is not a member of the European Union.

ANY_CHARACTER_HERE

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If you’re based in France and want to take part in the fight against the Government’s continued policy to ban motorcyclists from filtering through traffic, then contact the Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (FFMC – French Federation of Angry Bikers).

Si vous habitez en France et souhaitez participer aux manifestations pour la circulation inter files des motocyclistes dans les embouteillages, contactez la Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (FFMC).

France: high visibility vests compulsory again?

High-viz jacket protest

And now can you see me better?

The French government seems to find it very difficult to decide whether or not motorcyclists should be forced to wear high visibility vests whilst on the road. Some time ago, we advised that proposals had been put forward by the former French Interior Minister, Claude Guéant, to make high visibility vests mandatory for all motorcycle riders. Thanks to the ever growing and very well respected French motorcyclists pressure group (FFMC – French Federation of Angry Bikers), Guéant backed off and proposed the introduction of compulsory reflective straps around the arm instead. Needless to say that the FFMC continued to disagree with Gueant’s ludicrous proposals and urged him to scrap his proposals all together by gathering tens of thousands angry bikers and causing traffic chaos all over the country. When Guéant was thankfully pushed out of the French government in May last year, his successor, Manuel Valls, decided to scrap his predecessor’s stupid proposals once for good. Once for good? Read on…

Unfortunately, the debate over the potential mandatory high visibility vest for all riders has just resurrected with the government now considering the option of forcing all bikers to carry one with them at all times, but without making it compulsory to wear whilst riding. Does that make sense? Well, not really to be honest! This is another ridiculous and ludicrous anti-bike piece of legislation designed to catch as many bikers as possible and fine them on the spot for not following the law.

So let’s discuss any logic behind this new proposal. Remember, this is only a proposal at this stage, you do not need to carry or wear a high visibility jacket in France until further notice. The government’s idea is to force bikers to wear the vest only when they breakdown alongside the road and/or need to park the bike on the side in case of an emergency or accident. So if you get caught while riding without having a high visibility jacket with you (either in your bike or your bag), you will not be fined as you are not expected to wear it while using your bike. However, if you get caught not wearing the vest in the event of a breakdown, flat tyre, emergency stop or accident, you risk a fine of 35 euros payable on the spot and possibly a couple of points taken off your licence. This would also apply to foreign bikers visiting France.

I can only smile when I come across stupid proposals like this, especially from a highly unpopular government at this present time. Let’s see what the FFMC has to say about this and how long it will take them to get these French bureaucrats to scrap their proposals.

Click here for the source of the photo

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ANY_CHARACTER_HERE

If you’re based in France and want to take part in the fight against the Government’s continued policy to ban motorcyclists from filtering through traffic, then contact the Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (FFMC – French Federation of Angry Bikers).

Si vous habitez en France et souhaitez participer aux manifestations pour la circulation inter files des motocyclistes dans les embouteillages, contactez la Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (FFMC).

Factors affecting motorcycle insurance for UK bikers

Motorbike engineIt often comes as a shock to motorcycle riders when they get an insurance quote – and this article looks at some of the factors that can have an impact on the cost of motorcycle insurance.

While some factors, such as where in the UK you live and the likelihood of crime in your area and your motorcycle’s make and model are fixed and difficult to affect, there are other calculations involved in insurance premiums for bikes which are more variable, and which you can research and apply in order to reduce costs.

Who is being insured 

While it is now unlawful for all forms of motor insurance to take gender into account in determining insurance quotes, certain risk analysis remain at the disposal of companies in trying to predict the likelihood of accidents and expensive damage caused by at-fault riders and drivers.

Often, a series of categories of profession are offered by insurance companies, which do not quite match up to the many varied and rapidly developing jobs people do, which in turn do not equate strictly to the old-fashioned professions the companies tend to rely on still.

Police officers and teachers receive better rates, and while there’s nothing much you can do about it if you earn your living as an investigative journalist or stunt performer, if your office job entails both activities which are recognised as socially responsible and more risky ventures, you should identify a professional title that encapsulates your responsible side.

Plus ones

Equally, another one of the main factors affecting motorcycle insurance in the UK is whether you take passengers and, if you do, what their background data indicates according to the insurance analyst’s algorithms. For a younger rider, there are benefits of naming a more mature passenger, or one who has a social or law-related profession. Riders who regularly have their partner ride with them, for example, are less likely to have accidents and more likely to ride responsibly, according to the insurance companies.

Minimising risk 

Taking proactive steps to protect your motorcycle from opportunistic and petty theft can, in the long run, reduce your insurance costs, as one of the key factors affecting motorcycle insurance is where the bike is stored overnight.

Risk is largely determined in this context according to postcode and statistical crime rates, so it is out of your hands short of moving house. However, thinking outside of the box a little, such as looking around for cheap garages near your flat, or even asking a neighbour to take up a small amount of space with your bike overnight, is a practical solution to a fixed factor in calculating insurance premiums for your bike.

The main thing for your bike, much as it is for teenage children, is to keep it off the streets at night, so explore your neighbourhood to try to find ways of avoiding this. If you do park on the street, the type of anti-theft devices, including the type of chain you use, will be a major consideration.

Final considerations 

While some factors affecting motorcycle insurance are variable, as indicated, further factors that are fixed include the make and model of the bike being insured, any penalties and convictions declarable from five years to the present date, and any at-fault claims.  It is therefore worth researching the variable factors in detail.

This article has been written by James McDonnel, a passionate writer who loves everything that has to do with wheels and driving/riding.
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ANY_CHARACTER_HERE

If you’re based in France and want to take part in the fight against the Government’s continued policy to ban motorcyclists from filtering through traffic, then contact the Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (FFMC – French Federation of Angry Bikers).

Si vous habitez en France et souhaitez participer aux manifestations pour la circulation inter files des motocyclistes dans les embouteillages, contactez la Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (FFMC).

3 safety reminders for UK bikers riding in France

Speed limit FranceMotorcycling is getting extremely popular in the United Kingdom and, as a result, more and more British bikers choose to visit France on their motorbike or scooter.

Safety laws relating to motorcyclists have changed in France in recent years, so to ensure that you enjoy the freedom of the open road without suffering an accident or having a brush with the law, here are some key safety reminders.

Stay safe and on the right side of the law in France

The vast majority of bike enthusiasts will be able to tell you about a particularly pleasurable road trip involving the French roads, heading to iconic destinations such as Toulon and Provence to name a few. You can still enjoy a safe trip to France but bikers should be aware of a raft of regulations that have been brought in that relate specifically to motorcyclists. Here are some of the main points to remember or be aware of.

Filtering / Lane Splitting

It is still illegal to filter through slow moving or stationary traffic in France and the French Motorcycle Federation has even accused the Police of cynically and deliberately slowing traffic with their cars on Paris’s ring roads in order to catch bikers slipping through the jam, so that they can fine them.

Drink driving

Quite rightly, there are strict laws about the level of alcohol you are allowed in your body (0.5mg.ml limit) but bikers should also be aware that they should, in theory, carry a pair of breathalysers on them at all times, which are not expensive at about £6.50. That said and although by law a pair of breathalysers are compulsory to carry, if you are caught not carrying any, a fine is highly unlikely as this piece of legislation has not really been enforced.

Reflective stickers

In accordance to French law, your helmet must be equipped with reflective stickers. Although this law has been effective for quite a long time, it is only recently that it has been enforced. Click here for further details.

Ride to survive

Biking is a lot of fun but it should never be forgotten that motorcycles are the smallest vehicles on the road and are always going to be potentially more vulnerable in a crash. The best safety advice you can give when it comes to riding your bike is to be extra cautious and even try to anticipate the moves of other vehicles, especially trucks. By all means enjoy your time on the bike, but those that ride with a degree of caution and even take a defensive approach to staying safe on the road will increase their chances of avoiding a crash or injury.

The right gear

The vast majority of motorcyclists take their personal safety very seriously and would not compromise this by not wearing or having the right clothing and equipment to wear. A good crash helmet is vital in order to protect you in the event of an accident and it is never worth cutting corners when it comes to cost or safety features, so always make sure that your modern day skid lid has a sticker to show that it meets Department of Transport compliance standards. The right protective clothing is also critical and it is never worth the temptation on a hot day to reduce your level of protection by leaving a few layers off as you never know when it may be needed to help you avoid picking up an injury that you could have otherwise avoided.

As a biker, it is guaranteed that you probably already know all about these safety issues and guidelines, but they are reminders that you simply can’t hear often enough.

This guest post has been written by Gillian Kearney who has extensive experience as a driving instructor. Her articles mainly appear on driving blogs. Visit the Theory Test Online link to learn more.

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ANY_CHARACTER_HERE

If you’re based in France and want to take part in the fight against the Government’s continued policy to ban motorcyclists from filtering through traffic, then contact the Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (FFMC – French Federation of Angry Bikers).

Si vous habitez en France et souhaitez participer aux manifestations pour la circulation inter files des motocyclistes dans les embouteillages, contactez la Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (FFMC).

France: compulsory reflective stickers on all helmets

In early January of this year, we advised all our readers that the current French Interior Minister, Manuel Valls, had decided to scrap his predecessor’s ludicrous proposals for all motorcyclists to wear any form of reflective clothing while riding their motorbike or scooter. Unfortunately, there has been for some time another (stupid) piece of legislation forcing all bikers in France, whether residents or visitors, to wear a helmet with reflective stickers on, and this one has not been scrapped. Bikers caught wearing a helmet without stickers may face a 135 euros fine payable on the spot and 3 points taken off their licence. The police have recently been enforcing this rule quite severely in Paris and other locations throughout France.

All helmets must have four reflective stickers: one on the front, one at the rear and one on each side. The surface of each sticker must be 18 cm2 and, within each sticker, you must be able to draw a 40 mm diameter circle, or a 12.50 cm2 rectangle with a minimum of 20 mm length, as shown on the below picture.

Helmets with stickers

Rest assured, when you buy a new helmet in France, compliant stickers usually come with it, however, it is your responsibility to correctly stick them on your helmet. There is one more requirement which is that the stickers should not be removable without damaging the helmet and must remain reflective over time. They must also be water resistant and not interfere with the opening and closing mechanism of the helmet (if applicable). If you live in the United Kingdom (or any other country for that matter) and intend to visit France on motorised two or three wheels, you must by law enter France with compliant reflective stickers on your helmet. It is entirely your choice whether you do or not, but if a nasty policeman in a bad mood spots you with no compliant stickers on your helmet, you may find yourself being given a hard time.

As far as we know, France is the only country in the entire world that requires reflective stickers on helmets. We all know very well that the current French socialist president, François Hollande, has no interest other than stealth tax everyone in that country to fund the huge public deficit, so this piece of legislation, which has been in place for some time, is unlikely to be scrapped. On a much wider scale, he has already made thousands of French citizens leave their country and take advantage of the free mobility and relaxed immigration rules within the European Union to escape from the French tax system, which is one with the highest tax rates in the world. Thousands of French citizens have decided to relocate to the neighbouring United Kingdom where London is the sixth largest “French city”, a large proportion of whom have done so purely to escape from the French tax system and the on-going pressures and economic uncertainties in the euro zone. This piece of legislation to force all bikers to have reflective stickers on their helmet, which could have been scrapped considering its stupidity, is a typical example of the current French government’s practice to grab any “centime” they possibly can by deliberately introducing ridiculous laws which the vast majority of residents and visitors would find useless and ignore. Can you imagine how many bikers the French police may have caught so far not having compliant stickers on their helmet and how much they may have cashed in on behalf of the French government? Motorcyclists are already obliged to ride with their bike’s head lights (front and rear) switched on, is this not enough to remain visible at all times? Reflective stickers, like any reflective clothing in general, are precisely not reflective during day light, so where is the logic in this law?

Let’s see how long the reputable and most respected FFMC (Fédération Française des Motards en Colère) will take to force the government to reverse this stupid and money grabbing piece of legislation, now that it is being enforced. In the meantime, you have been warned – put stickers on your helmet or you may get done (or else don’t ride in France all together)! It is time that the French government starts to treat motorcyclists like responsible adults and not like children to whom apply punitive rules.

Further reading – Casque: n’oubliez pas vos autocollants rétro-réflechissants

ANY_CHARACTER_HERE

If you’re based in France and want to take part in the fight against the Government’s continued policy to ban motorcyclists from filtering through traffic, then contact the Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (FFMC – French Federation of Angry Bikers).

Si vous habitez en France et souhaitez participer aux manifestations pour la circulation inter files des motocyclistes dans les embouteillages, contactez la Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (FFMC).

Westminster’s motorcycle parking charge: socially exclusive?

Sign Replacement 3Westminster City Council have been charging for motorcycle parking in the heart of the British capital since August 2008 and still remain the only council that charges for motorcycle parking in London. When the scheme was being set up, it was Westminster’s intention to spread it all over London and the rest of the United Kingdom by selling their services to other councils in exchange for a fee. Westminster’s plans failed through for various reasons, which fall outside the topic of this post.

A campaign called “No To The Bike Parking Tax” started shortly after Westminster’s introduction of the motorcycle charging scheme and, despite thousands of motorcyclists demonstrating in the streets of London every month and blocking the traffic, the council refused to scrap their blatant money grabbing scheme. The campaign took Westminster Council to the UK courts twice to challenge the fairness of the scheme and the way it was set up, but did not succeed in obtaining an adverse judgement against the scheme. This campaign has since gone quiet and the motorcycle parking tax in Westminster continues to operate.

We now wonder why other London councils have not followed Westminster’s lead to charge motorcyclists to pay for parking. The reason is very simple: Westminster’s motorcycle parking scheme is regarded by many as being socially exclusive, thus other councils are reluctant to adopt a similar scheme and prefer to keep motorcycle parking free of charge.

Let us explain. To park your motorcycle or scooter on-street in the central London borough of Westminster, you must own a credit/debit card and a mobile phone. Once you have parked your bike in a dedicated motorcycle bay, you need to dial the number that is indicated on the adjacent sign, and using your touch telephone keypad, pay the tax with your credit/debit card. So what if you do not own either a credit/debit card or a mobile phone (or both)? Well, basically, you are stuck, as paper based tickets issued by the very few on-street machines are not practical for motorcycles. If you find yourself in that situation, you are strongly advised to ride back to where you come from to avoid receiving a penalty charge notice (PCN). You can also consider yourself a potential victim of social exclusion.

If you do not own a mobile phone but have internet access and a credit/debit card, you can pay the charge online in advance to riding into Westminster. However, if you do not have internet access (or a mobile phone for that matter), you are unable to prepay for your parking and, thus not allowed to park your motorcycle in any council’s dedicated bay. You can, again, consider yourself a potential victim of social exclusion (needless to say that by paying in advance, you are not guaranteed a parking space as prepaying for your parking does not mean that you are booking a parking space).

Finally, the council has been put under pressure to (reluctantly) offer a prepayment facility to bikers who only have access to pulse dialling telephones and, therefore, need to speak to an operator to make their payment. Whilst this is helping those who do not own a touch tone telephone, if you do not own a debit/credit card, this facility is of no assistance and you are, once again, a potential victim of social exclusion. Interestingly enough, the council seems to hide the operator based phone number from the public, as this facility appears to be quite expensive for the council to run. Although it is primarily available to use by those with a pulse dialling telephone, anyone can actually use this facility, whether to prepay from home or pay on-street from a mobile phone. It is fair to say that for many of us, it is a lot more pleasant and straight forward to speak to, and be guided by, an operator rather than deal with an anonymous automated service. So here is the number to call if you would rather speak to an operator to pay (or prepay) for your parking in Westminster:

020 3362 7000

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In conclusion, if you do not own a credit or debit card, regardless of how you may wish to pay for your parking (in advance or on-street), stay away from Westminster during chargeable hours or be happy to receive a penalty charge notice (PCN). Can you now understand why other councils, who would love to fill up their coffers by charging motorcyclists to park, have refrained from doing so? Purely because they are concerned about the social exclusion issues associated with a motorcycle charging scheme similar to the one operated by Westminster Council. The question now is how long Westminster Council will be able to sustain a motorcycle parking scheme that widely appears to be socially exclusive. Let’s see…

Further reading:

One Small Step Against WCC Bike Parking Tax

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If you’re based in France and want to take part in the fight against the Government’s continued policy to ban motorcyclists from filtering through traffic, then contact the Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (FFMC – French Federation of Angry Bikers).

Si vous habitez en France et souhaitez participer aux manifestations pour la circulation inter files des motocyclistes dans les embouteillages, contactez la Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (FFMC).

Watford Council makes no difference between motorcycles and cars

Motorcycle ParkingOne of our readers has forwarded on to us some correspondence he has recently had with Watford Borough Council (North London) about their motorcycle parking policy. Whilst we had so far assumed that the motorcycle parking policy in Westminster (one of the boroughs in Central London) was by far the most discriminatory and socially exclusive of all by offering motorcyclists only one method of payment on the (erroneous) assumption that all bikers own a mobile phone and/or a credit/debit card, you will most likely be shocked by the below correspondence between our reader and Watford Borough Council.

Extract from our reader’s email to Watford Borough Council:

“Whilst in Watford I used to call in on my friend for a couple of hours each week, but now rarely do so because I don’t want to incur a penalty charge through no fault of my own.

I ride a motorcycle which presents several problems for the visitor who wishes to park in Shaftesbury Road and I don’t believe you have given adequate consideration to incorporating all road users in your parking scheme.

I am amazed that you didn’t dedicate one car parking bay for the exclusive use of motorcycles in order to obviate the problems of displaying a parking ticket or the Resident’s Visitor Voucher on a motorcycle. According to my friend, the car park is now a “white elephant” & turning over one car bay to motorcycles would have zero effect on revenue since there are rarely more than two cars which park there anyway. I should therefore be very interested in your responses to the following questions:

1. How do you suggest the Pay & Display parking ticket or the 185mm x 94mm Resident’s Visitor Voucher be attached to a motorcycle so as to ensure that it isn’t stolen for use in a car? What steps can I take to make certain that the voucher survives, for example, the torrential precipitations of October/November 2012?

2. Where should the voucher/ticket be displayed in order that the Parking Attendant actually sees it? Around the handlebars? Front forks? Across the petrol tank? Pillion saddle strap? Where?

3. Some months ago I was advised by one of your staff to stick the Resident’s Visitor Voucher to my bike using Sellotape but this is ineffectual in the rain. In December I nearly got written up for a parking violation simply because the sodden voucher, stuck on the side of the petrol tank with Sellotape, fell off.

Extract from Watford Borough Council’s response:

“It has always been this Council’s policy that all vehicles, including motorcycles, must pay and/or display the required voucher or ticket. It had always been understood the reasoning for this to be that many of the CPZ [Controlled Parking Zones] roads are already under pressure and there is simply a lack of road space to allow these vehicles to park on-street for free. Depending upon how a motorcycle is parked it can take up the same space as a car. As a result, unfortunately no exceptions apply in the CPZ TRO [Traffic Regulation Orders] for motorcycles.

I do understand the problem you are experiencing with displaying your visitor’s voucher/parking ticket however, as per the publicised cancellation policy document, which is on the Council website, it is not possible for the Council to advise motorists how they display tickets of vouchers. All motorcycles are different, i.e. some have windscreens and others do not. Ultimately, this remains the responsibility of the motorcycle owner.

I am sorry that I cannot help you any further with the problems you are having in displaying your parking ticket/visitor’s voucher and trust the above helps to clarify the situation”.

Right, so if we understand Watford Borough Council’s message correctly, you motorcyclists are a nuisance to us and we don’t want you around. It is entirely your problem if you have decided to own (and ride) a motorcycle and, therefore, you must face the consequences of your choice. We consider and treat motorcycles like cars so get on with it as we will not make any effort to help you and provide an adequate and practical solution to the issues you are facing with our universal parking policy.

Oh well, thank God, not all borough councils across the United Kingdom and beyond are being so short-minded and discriminatory against bikers, who use a mode of transport that is a golden solution to road congestion, reducing air pollution and minimising space utilisation.

Further reading: Motorcycle Parking Bays, don’t get caught out…

Feel free to comment…
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If you’re based in France and want to take part in the fight against the Government’s continued policy to ban motorcyclists from filtering through traffic, then contact the Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (FFMC – French Federation of Angry Bikers).

Si vous habitez en France et souhaitez participer aux manifestations pour la circulation inter files des motocyclistes dans les embouteillages, contactez la Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (FFMC).

France: compulsory reflective clothing scrapped

Reflective strapBikers in France, whether residents or visitors, have started 2013 with good news: the French authorities have recently announced the full and permanent scrapping of previous plans to force all bikers riding a machine of more than 125cc to wear 150cm2 of reflective clothing anywhere between the waist and the shoulders. Under the previous proposals, bikers who were caught not wearing the appropriate reflective clothing from 1st January 2013 would have been liable to a 68 euros fine payable on the spot and two points taken off their licence.

French bikers, with the invaluable and continuous support of the French Federation of Angry Bikers – FFMC (Fédération Française des Motards en Colère), can now enjoy riding all over France without wearing any reflective clothing if they so wish.

Manuel Valls, French Interior Minister

Manuel Valls, French Interior Minister, has permanently scrapped the proposed compulsory reflective clothing for bikers! Thank you, Mr Valls!

Manuel Valls, the French Interior Minister (right), announced the good news to the biking community earlier this month and a large number of bikers celebrated their victory of what had been a long battle that took several months. Manuel Valls has now officially decided to permanently scrap the ludicrous and non-sense proposals put forward by Claude Guéant, his predecessor, who had been ejected from the French government following last year’s presidential elections. The battle, which involved a series of national demonstrations gathering over 100,000 bikers and bringing the whole country to a complete stop, has obviously paid off and brought a fantastic result.

Guéant initially proposed the compulsory wear of reflective jackets and, with the enormous pressure he was put under with thousands of angry bikers who kept blocking the roads all over the country, he decided to back off and restrict the reflective clothing to only 150cm2 between the waist and the shoulders. But this was not good enough – the bikers demanded full scrapping of the proposals, which they have now finally obtained.

This was one of the most laughable and absurd proposals we had ever heard of because a) reflective clothing is precisely not reflective during day light, b) it is already compulsory to ride with headlights turned on, which makes riders clearly visible and c) those who ride machines of up to 125cc would have been exempt from wearing reflective clothing on the grounds that they don’t ride a powerful enough bike to be considered dangerous on the roads! Let’s not forget that a very large number of motorcyclists who ride a moped or a 125cc bike are precisely those who don’t hold a full motorcycle licence and have only attended at the very most a one-off 7 hour training course all together.

CONGRATULATIONS TO THE FFMC AND ALL BIKERS IN FRANCE!

There is nothing more productive than get together, stand up for our rights and fight against ludicrous public decisions that discriminate bikers against other road users and make our lives difficult when we use a mode of transport that should be encouraged, as it is the golden SOLUTION to reduce road congestion and air pollution. Demonstrate, stand up for our rights, fight against our government’s ludicrous proposals that put the future of motorcycling in danger – are these what perhaps British bikers should do more by following the example of their French neighbours?

Whilst French bikers have remarkably won the reflective clothing battle, they now have to continue their fight against their government to make traffic filtering (or “lane splitting” to use the North American terminology) legal in France.

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If you’re based in France and want to take part in the fight against the Government’s continued policy to ban motorcyclists from filtering through traffic, then contact the Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (FFMC – French Federation of Angry Bikers).

Si vous habitez en France et souhaitez participer aux manifestations pour la circulation inter files des motocyclistes dans les embouteillages, contactez la Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (FFMC).

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Please join and support the campaign to stop Westminster Council from stealth taxing motorcyclists to park before their scheme spreads all over the UK and the rest of Europe. For further details, visit http://www.notobikeparkingtax.com/

Rejoignez le groupe de manifestants contre le stationnement payant des motocyclistes a Westminster avant que cela ne se propage dans le reste du Royaume-Uni et l’Union Europeenne. Pour plus d’informations, consultez http://www.notobikeparkingtax.com/

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If you have a story you would like to see published on UK France bikers.com, please contact us here.

Si vous avez une experience a partager et que vous souhaiteriez voir publiee sur UK France bikers.com, n’hesitez pas a nous contacter en cliquant ici.

The winter guide to motorcycle riding in France and the U.K.

motorcycle-stuck-in-snowJack Frost is swiftly on his way into France and the United Kingdom, throwing little flu parcels at everyone and making sure that the ground is as slippery as possible. While drivers are abandoning their cars left, right and centre, the savvy two-wheeled warrior can still ride through the winter streets so long as they are careful. The last thing you want is to have a mishap right before Christmas and spend the holidays having that conversation with your motorbike insurance company (if you can even get through to them; the Christmas season is incredibly busy). It’s best to avoid damage to yourself and your bike where possible, so here are some tips to riding out the winter in style.

Winter gear

It doesn’t matter how tough you think you are; if you go riding in the dead of winter with your summer leathers you’re going to feel more than a twinge of cold. Your winter riding kit should give you added water resistance and insulation without compromising on protection. This is especially important for your hands since they’re one of the first parts of your body to feel the cold (and you don’t want to lose sensation to the part that controls the bike!). Gauntlets are even better as they stop water getting into the gloves and improve airflow, so your hands aren’t cold but neither do they sweat.

With the days getting shorter, it’s a good idea to make yourself as visible as possible since you’re likely to be riding in the dark. Reflective clothing will help increase your visibility when riding during the dark mornings, making sure that other motorists are aware of you on the road.

Taking care of your bike

A biker is only as good as their machine, so you’ll need to keep your bike in tip-top condition so that it purrs like a kitten. There’s an urban legend that reducing your tyre pressure will give you more grip when riding through snow and ice. Don’t do this; not only is it dangerous but it’s also quite illegal. It’s much safer to ensure that your tyres are inflated according to the recommended pressure given by the manufacturer.

Also, remember to clean your lights regularly so they are giving you as much visibility as possible. Give your lights and mirrors a wipe down before each journey to remove debris and dirt.

Riding tips

The roads are going to be wet, and they’re going to be slippery. Whereas your stopping distance is twice as long as normal on a wet road, when it comes to snow and ice it’s going to be ten times as long, so allow for plenty of time when stopping to minimise road spray and to limit the risk of losing control.

The winter season is going to throw all kinds of nastiness at you – sudden winds, poor visibility, heavy snowfall and pedestrians that are too busy bracing against the cold to notice a motorcycle nearby. Take it easy when you ride and be extra cautious so you have more time to adapt and react to whatever curveballs the weather throws at you.

Lastly, don’t forget to keep a thermos of tea in your pannier. A winter rider can’t function properly without a nice cup of tea.

Jamie Gibbs is the resident blogger for motorcycle insurance comparison site Confused.com. His first experience on a motorbike was while riding pillion, where he accidentally sat on the exhaust. It took him a few months to work up the courage to try again.

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If you’re based in France and want to take part in the fight against the Government’s proposed introduction of a compulsory annual environmental and road safety test for motorcycles and their continued policy to ban motorcyclists from filtering through traffic, then contact the Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (FFMC – French Federation of Angry Bikers).

Si vous habitez en France et souhaitez participer aux manifestations contre la proposition du gouvernement d’introduire un controle technique pour les 2 roues motorises ansi que de continuer a empecher la circulation inter files pour les motocyclistes dans les embouteillages, contactez la Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (FFMC).

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Please join and support the campaign to stop Westminster Council from stealth taxing motorcyclists to park before their scheme spreads all over the UK and the rest of Europe. For further details, visit http://www.notobikeparkingtax.com/

Rejoignez le groupe de manifestants contre le stationnement payant des motocyclistes a Westminster avant que cela ne se propage dans le reste du Royaume-Uni et l’Union Europeenne. Pour plus d’informations, consultez http://www.notobikeparkingtax.com/

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If you have a story you would like to see published on UK France bikers.com, please contact us here.

Si vous avez une experience a partager et que vous souhaiteriez voir publiee sur UK France bikers.com, n’hesitez pas a nous contacter en cliquant ici.

France: compulsory reflective clothing suspended

Reflective strapGood news for riders in France: the new French Interior Minister, Manuel Valls, has decided to suspend the forthcoming obligation for all riders (whether residents or visitors) to wear at least 150cm2 of reflective clothing between the waist and the shoulders. Bikers who were caught not wearing the appropriate reflective clothing from 1st January 2013 would have been liable to a 68 euros fine payable on the spot and two points taken off their licence.

The battle has been very long for the bikers to achieve such a good result. Despite national demonstrations gathering over 100,000 bikers and bringing the whole country to a complete stop, the previous Interior Minister, Claude Guéant, refused to abandon the proposals. Guéant initially proposed the compulsory wear of reflective jackets and, with the enormous pressure he was put under by thousands of angry bikers who kept blocking the roads all over the country, he decided to back off and restrict the reflective clothing to only 150cm2

Manuel Valls, French Interior Minister

Manuel Valls, French Interior Minister

between the waist and the shoulders. But this was not good enough – the bikers demanded full scrapping of the proposals, which Guéant refused to accept. Manuel Valls (right), Guéant’s successor following the recent elections, seems to be more reasonable and has now accepted to listen to the bikers’ concerns and suspended his predecessor’s proposals. Unfortunately, suspend does not mean scrap – the proposals will be reviewed in detail before Valls may decide to scrap them once for good.

This is one of the most laughable and absurd pieces of legislation we have ever heard of because a) reflective clothing is precisely not reflective during day light, b) it is already compulsory to ride with headlights turned on which makes riders clearly visible and c) those who ride machines of up to 125cc would have been exempt from wearing reflective clothing on the grounds that they don’t ride a powerful enough bike to be considered dangerous on the roads! Let’s not forget that a very large number of motorcyclists who ride a moped or a 125cc bike are precisely those who don’t hold a full motorcycle licence and have only attended at the very most a one-off 7 hour training course all together. But, as usual, bikers who ride larger machines are always the ones who cause most concern to the government because they have been much better trained than every other biker!

Whilst it makes perfect sense to educate bikers to be more visible on the roads to minimise the risk of collisions resulting from car drivers not seeing them, it also makes sense to educate car drivers, including taxi drivers, to share the roads with bikers and make them realise that they don’t own the roads. Why are car drivers not forced to apply a yellow sticker at the back (and front) of their vehicle to make it more visible? Why are riders and drivers not treated equally on the roads and, more importantly, why are bikers being constantly treated as irresponsible and rogue citizens? Statistics show that the vast majority of road accidents involving motorcyclists are caused by car drivers not paying attention to what’s around them, including the presence of bikers. So instead of imposing radical and useless measures on the bikers and treat them like children, governments had better address road related issues by implementing training and safety awareness sessions for all, not always and constantly victimise the bikers.

Whilst bikers in France are delighted to hear the good news, the battle is not yet totally over. Manuel Valls has yet to review and consider his predecessor’s proposals in detail before he makes his final decision, which will hopefully be the full scrapping of these proposals. Meanwhile, the French Federation of Angry Bikers – FFMC (Fédération Française des Motards en Colère) continues to put the government under pressure to achieve the desired full scrapping of the proposals. Bikers prefer to be given the option of wearing reflective clothing and not be told to do so.

For those of you who understand French, here is a short video of Manuel Valls announcing the suspension of compulsory reflective clothing pending full critical review of the proposals and France Wolf of the FFMC who expresses her gratitude for Valls’s latest decision.

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If you’re based in France and want to take part in the fight against the Government’s proposed introduction of a compulsory annual environmental and road safety test for motorcycles and their continued policy to ban motorcyclists from filtering through traffic, then contact the Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (FFMC – French Federation of Angry Bikers).

Si vous habitez en France et souhaitez participer aux manifestations contre la proposition du gouvernement d’introduire un controle technique pour les 2 roues motorises ansi que de continuer a empecher la circulation inter files pour les motocyclistes dans les embouteillages, contactez la Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (FFMC).

ANY_CHARACTER_HERE

Please join and support the campaign to stop Westminster Council from stealth taxing motorcyclists to park before their scheme spreads all over the UK and the rest of Europe. For further details, visit http://www.notobikeparkingtax.com/

Rejoignez le groupe de manifestants contre le stationnement payant des motocyclistes a Westminster avant que cela ne se propage dans le reste du Royaume-Uni et l’Union Europeenne. Pour plus d’informations, consultez http://www.notobikeparkingtax.com/

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If you have a story you would like to see published on UK France bikers.com, please contact us here.

Si vous avez une experience a partager et que vous souhaiteriez voir publiee sur UK France bikers.com, n’hesitez pas a nous contacter en cliquant ici.

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