Archive for May, 2012

The Hi-Vis day-glow Tohuwabohu in France

Posted in Uncategorized on May 4, 2012 by bleiglass

I am sick and tired of the endless discussion on Hi-Vis vests, and on who orders me to wear what, when and where. This is a free world, and each individual should be responsible for his own actions. End of rant.

A lot has been written about the new biking laws in France, even more has been hotly discussed, but the final solution is not to flood the Eurotunnel and only cross with ferries to Belgium. It helps sometimes to read the law in its small print (and in its original language) and then, staying very relaxed, analyse what is actually required. (I am reading the French text as published by Reims Chapter on their website under the tab “La Loi”)

Now, regarding visibility and clothing, there are 2 (two, deux) relevant laws, one for hi-vis vests, and one for reflective material on biker clothing.

Hi-Vis vest (Gilet jaune)

This is a old law from 29 September 2008, soon 4 old, that requires drivers to carry a hi-vis vests with them, and to be worn when outside the stationary vehicle. 2 and 3 wheel vehicles are exempt from this. In a nutshell: the french law does not force you to ride around like Ronald MacDonald. You can stay in full black leathers.

I personally carry a orange Hi-Vis HD vest with me, for very bad weather conditions and at nights. But I do not wear it while riding with the Chapter, as this day-glow Hi-Vis orange or yellow should be reserved to the ride leader and their backmarkers, as they need to be clearly and easily identified.

So again: not wearing a Hi-Vis day glow vest or jacket does not break any french law !!

Reflective clothing

But a new law from January 2012 requires a motorcycle rider to wear reflective material on his clothing, either attached or integrated. This is mandatory from January 2013. The law has 2 criteria to be fulfilled:

a) the reflective material has to be visible between shoulders and waist
b) its total surface has to be 150 cm2, in one piece or many.

Now, 150 square centimeter is what I would call peanuts, it is for example a 3M Scotchlite reflective sticker 15cm wide and 10 cm high that you can placed barely visibly somewhere on your jacket.

I have a rain light jacket from Harley, that I would not label Hi-Vis, its not bright orange or yellow, but dark in general tone, however, with some reflective letters and stripes.

I took the time to measured all reflective (silver) material, and to my surprise the total area of reflective material on this jacket is about 600 cm2, this is 4 times the legal requirement.

See these details:

Harley-Davidson are 76 cm2, the word Motorcycles contributes 30 cm2. The bar shield logo is nearly the required size by law.

More surprising are the ams, specially the 3M™ Scotchlite™ Reflective Material piping:

Conclusion: just the fine lines of reflective stripes provide 260 cm2 of reflective surface, and you do not need more to be legal. These lines are about 5mm wide (0.5cm), and in total 5.2 meter long. To be legal, you only need 3 meter of these reflective pipes, and you do not need the letters or the logo at all. PEANUTS, and easily done.

Looking at the present clothes in the official Harley range, this jacket, worn by our very own Katie from Guildford Harley-Davidson, in my view will fulfil all legal french requirements easily with respect to reflective clothing.

… and here is Katie, same day, same jacket, standing next to a day-glow orange Hi-Vis man, clearly showing that reflective in the french legal sense does not need to mean colourful.

And you have lots of space to add rockers, patches and pins to this truly black jacket.

I would like to see from Harley or any other producer a vest (black leather cut) with just the 3 meter of Scotchlite pipelines, and it would be helpful if Harley-Davidson would indicate in its clothing the total area of reflective material. Alternatively, the Chapter and HOG rockers could be made of or with Scotchlite silver piping instead of all gold stitching.  This, with a certificate of reflective area, should convince any french gendarme.

Remember: as everything you read here, this is my very own and personal view and action, and it may be wrong. All you do or don’t do is as usual at your own risk.


Make your GPS legal for France

Posted in DIY, Harley-Davidson with tags , , on May 3, 2012 by bleiglass

The big difference between the French and Germans is that the French will pass ridiculous laws and its up to your personal judgement to follo them, or not, while in Germany the law is abide by, no exceptions, full point.

However, law enforcement officers of both countries under strict EU dictatorship react pretty similar, you should not expect the french policeman to allow a casual laissez faire attitude once you are on his radar screen. And he will surely not share a glass of white wine with you before he lets you continue your journey. These times are over!

Riding a motorcycle these days seems to be a very anti-social activity, and politicians of all colours, who never even sat on a motorcycle in their whole life, love to invent legislation to kill any sense of freedom to ride. But fighting laws once they are passed is less productive then fighting them while they are debated in Westminster, Paris or worse, Brussels. So stay informed on all the idiocies our elected politicians come up with and say loudly NO before they hit any parliament’s floor.

But this article is not a rant about what could come, but what unfortunately already is. Here in the UK a lot of Club Night time is spend on trying to understand what the French are up to, with ugly Hi-Vis vest, reflective clothing and mandatory breathalyser at the centre of attention and heated debates.

Here a MAG statement published on my Chapters website:

On one point I researched a bit more, as one statement is not exactly accurate:

Speed: French police take speeding seriously, apparently a lot of speed camera warning signs have been removed, devices to detect radar are illegal (GPS with speed camera sites loaded on them are okay). Fines are payable on the spot, expect to be arrested and possibly have the vehicle impounded if you can’t pay or the speed was high.

Thanks to our twinned Reims Chapter website, I found that the statement: “GPS with speed camera sites loaded on them are okay” is not exactly accurate. Key is:

The speed camera proximity warning needs to be switched off.

There are even official statements by Garmin and TomTom on this and how to perform the switch off or what to do to be legal. Details (sorry, in French) can be found here:

While Garmin advises to disable the proximity warning to be 100% legal, TomTom explains at length how to avoid LIVE updates.

Having myself a Garmin Zumo 660, I did switch off the proximity warning, and as not all of ou may speak or read french, here a short description on How To:

Switch on you ZUMO, and press TOOLS

You want to change the SETTINGS

Note that some screens are longer then the display, press the arrow down to get to more options, and then select Proximity Points

You want to CHANGE proximity alerts

you are nearly done, now uncheck the tickbox for proximity alerts for Safety Cameras

Bon yoyage!

Remember: as everything you read here, this is my very own and personal view and action, and it may be wrong. All you do or don’t do is as usual at your own risk.