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France: high visibility vests compulsory again?

June 26, 2013
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



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).

  1. Stephen permalink

    Once again another unpopular government comes out with a load of clap trap in an endeavour to part money from people’s wallets! Why not throw in a warning triangle too? And if you don’t carry a bag on your bike as most do not, or have a top box … where is this vest going to go???

    Come on FFMC .. get organising NOW!!!!

    • UK France bikers permalink

      Stephen, if you have no top box or bag with you, then I guess you would need to wear the high visibility vest to be on the safe side!

      • Stephen permalink

        Hey UKFB that’s a good idea!!!!!! For several years now it’s been compulsory to have hi-viz tabards in the car, one for each passenger and the driver of course but I’ve never seen anyone wearing one at a vehicle breakdown. I’ve got a top box and panniers for longer trips but not everyone does. My son for instance has no top box (I don’t think a lot of the younger motards do). I smell another lucrative deal within the French Govt .. remember the breathalyser scandal?? It will not happen.

  2. bob craven permalink

    Looks like the French motorcyclists have this in hand, they seem to be able to look after themselves. All we can do is support them through the auspices of our own motorcycle organisations.

    Bit different if they said that all vehicles should carry some form of conspicuity for use when necessary and include motorcycles as they do with many other things they apparently find necessary.

    Not a bad idea tho to carry one for use in emergencies.

  3. Toby Jenner permalink

    Lets put this into perspective, its is not discrimination against motorcyclist, they are just being brought into line with all other vehicle users in France ie the vests are for emergency roadside use only (should it become law). The problems will start if they resurrect mandatory high viz when riding, at which point the FFMC will kick off big style as usual – god bless em!!

  4. Stephen Bardsley permalink

    This is not discrimination against Riders though, as all Drivers have to carry a High Viz vest in their cars, I know as I was driving and riding in FrNce last week!

    Sent from my iPhone

  5. I’ve been a biker for over 40 years, have been living in France for 7 years, and I travel extensively by bike in both rural areas and on the main arteries. I experience first hand every week some of the idiotic, aggressive and speed junkie driving that France is famous for, and I can unequivocally say that having a hi viz vest available to put on in the case of a road side urgent stop or accident, is one of the most sensible ideas the French Government proposed, and I have no doubt it will pass into law when the CNSR ( Conseil Nationale de Securite Routiere) convene in October. And why should bikers be exempt from a law which covers all other road users? we’re just as ( if not more) vulnerable.

    The Claude Gueant idea was absolutely daft and I was glad when it was repealed late last year, I take my hat off to the FFMC for their campaign on that one, but I don’t think they are right to oppose this. Hi Viz tabards are effective at long distance, and should be used in cases of emergency and not as everyday wearing apparel.

    I am certain my own existance was saved following a blow out on a busy trunkroad where there was no off road parking and a soft verge. I always carry a hiz tabard in my tank bag ( no big deal) and I was very glad to put it on and see people pulling out to pass me a long way back, something which I am certain would never have happened if I hadn’t been wearning it.

    I disagree entirely with the statement that this is another piece of anti bike legislation, and find describing this as ”stupid”, rather naive, uninformed and unhelpful.

    • UK France bikers permalink


      What makes the proposal “stupid” in our opinion is that you cannot expect everyone to carry a high viz vest with them just for the unfortunate event of a breakdown or accident. Most people will forget to carry one with them and, to avoid this, either you make it compulsory for all to wear while riding (and in case of a breakdown or accident by default) or you don’t. But what I don’t like in this proposal is the government’s attitude that consists of cashing in fines from motorbikers for not having something with them when they are anxious and annoyed enough with dealing with their breakdown or accident. Having a cop turning up in the middle of a breakdown or accident to fine you instead of assisting you is just not the attitude one would expect from public servants, especially if you have been injured from an accident you may not be responsible for.

  6. tilla noval permalink

    I live in France and have to carry a hi viz vest in my private van in case of accidents/breakdowns. As a biker in France I don’t expect to have a different set of rules from other road users, although I am glad I don’t have to carry a warning triangle on the bike, as I have to in the van, because I don’t know where I could put it!. The hi viz vest lives under my saddle, along with the breathaliser I bought when that law appeared to be enacted.

  7. Kev Garrington permalink

    Ya know, nothing surprises me any more when it comes to lawmakers.
    One thing that pervades and always has done is that politicians/governments/law makers/asshole people who are paid to think up laws NEVER consider common sense and freedom of choice of the individual to who the law affects.. Until this happens we will continue to see draconian, arbitrary, unwelcome and discriminatory legislation being tried by the powers that be to be forced onto the statute books.
    Apply common sense and freedom of choice to the individual and we may stand a chance of living our lives ‘free’ of the nanny state. But that would probably mean there would be no financial gain for the government and we wouldn’t need a constant stream of inane laws would we, and we can’t have that can we?
    To use one of the slogans of the Motorcycle Action Group – LET THE RIDER DECIDE – All power to the FFMC in France

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