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HomeNEWSINTERNATIONALbrussels proposes motorcycle ban on back of 'invalid data'

brussels proposes motorcycle ban on back of 'invalid data'

The Belgium government is considering a ban on motorcycles in the Brussels region to try to cut emissions and dust pollution.

The government agency in charge of the environment, Brussels Environment, is to study the amount of fine dust and greenhouse gases produced by motorcycles in the next year before deciding whether to prohibit powered two-wheelers from the low-emissions zone.

The Belgian Federation of Automobile and Cycle (Febiac) has called the move an act of “pure provocation”.

The Brussels Times also reports that a French study revealed that motorcycles emit up to 11 times more carbon monoxide and six times more nitrogen oxide than cars because new motorcycles ‘only’ have to be in compliance with the Euro 4-norm whereas cars need the Euro 6-rating.

Those findings have been seriously challenged by ACEM – the body representing European motorcycle manufacturers – which has warned that the “invalid” data could lead to “ill-advised transport policies, which is unacceptable”.

The claim that PTW emissions were higher than cars had been made in a study on vehicle emissions in Paris by the International Clean Council on Transportation (ICCT) carried out on behalf of the Real Urban Emissions (TRUE) Initiative. The study had been commissioned by the City Council of Paris.

ACEM said: “We seriously question the reliability of the remote sensing technology used by the ICCT to measure real urban emissions from the wide range of motorcycles and other L-category vehicles.”

Despite the report acknowledging that “the smaller engines used in these vehicles result in a smaller plume signal relative to vehicles with larger engines”, the authors still draw negative conclusions as to the environmental performance of motorcycles, including those meeting latest Euro 4 standards.

“ACEM has grounds to believe that the report conclusions are based mostly on measurements of L-category vehicles during their acceleration phase. A generalisation of such results simply does not match real urban reality and results in a drastic overestimation of vehicle emissions.”

ACEM points out that a study by the European Research on Mobile Emission Sources (ERMES) had “clearly shown that the emission performance of Euro 4 motorcycles is similar to the one of Euro 5 and 6 petrol cars”, and that these measurements were made using well-established, lab measurement technology, as well as real-world test cycles.

The ERMES findings were used by the European Environmental Agency to update its own emissions model (COPERT) in 2019. The COPERT model is used by policy-makers across Europe to model vehicle fleet emissions in urban areas. Furthermore, the ERMES findings were also used by public authorities in Austria, Germany, Sweden and Switzerland to update the Handbook Emission Factors for Road Transport (HBEFA ).

Commenting on the study, ACEM Secretary General Antonio Perlot said: “ACEM fully supports the principle of public authorities mandating independent studies to gather evidence for effective policy-making. However, it is of the utmost importance that such independent studies are performed using validated, accurate testing methods.

“The ICCT report is inconsistent with recent independent research findings based on real-world emissions for motorcycles. The large number of invalid measurements and the high level of uncertainty of the valid ones clearly indicate that remote sensing technology in the ICCT report is unable correctly to measure emissions of L-category vehicles. In other words, ICCT should not have drawn any conclusions based on these measurements. This could lead to ill-advised policies, which is unacceptable.”

ACEM says it has already contacted the authors of the study and will continue engaging constructively with the ICCT to discuss the findings and the possible limits of the measurement technologies used.

“In any event, the motorcycle sector remains committed to continue investing in cleaner technologies and reducing its environmental footprint. The entry into force of the Euro 5 environmental standard in 2020 will be another important step in that direction.”

La Dernière Heure reports that the analysis shows that motorcycles in Brussels are responsible for 6% of the total CO2-emissions, 0.2% of nitrogen emissions and 0.4% of fine dust.

Philippe Dehennin, the chairman of Febiac – the Belgian car, motorcycle and bicycle distributors’ association – said: “This kind of reasoning is simplistic because it targets a minority of the road users and because it has been proven that daily traffic jams could be reduced with 40% if only 10% of drivers would choose a motorcycle instead of a car. We invite the Region to look at mobility in a different way instead of announcing a ban.

“European legislation chose to regulate all the large numbers and larger vehicles first, and the smaller ones (mopeds and motorcycles) after,” he said, adding that the Euro 5-norm will be mandatory for motorcyclists starting from 2020.”

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