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Thousands of bikers converge on Bern

The thousands of bikers driving into Bern caused traffic problems

(swissinfo.ch)

Thousands of bikers have converged on the Swiss capital, Bern, to protest plans to limit bike speeds to 80kmh on the motorways.

The country's biggest motorcyclist association, Pro Moto, has organised a mass demonstration outside the government building.

Although the demonstration took place without bikes, the procession of bikers, making their way into Bern - at 80kmh - brought traffic around the city to a standstill.

It was reported that over 35,000 motorcyclists came from all over the country to protest about proposals from the Swiss Council for Accident Prevention (BFU) to reduce the number of deaths on the country's roads.

But the bikers argue than the plan would introduce technical alterations making it impossible to go any faster than 80kmh, would be discriminatory and make them the laughing stock abroad.

They say they are not against moves to reduce the number of deaths on the road, which number 600 a year, 100 of which are motorcyclists.

Same treatment

Pro Moto, says the country's 500,000 bikers just want to be granted the same treatment as other road users.

Pius Bruelhart, a bike enthusiast, said if the measures go through, motorcycles could become an obstacle to other road users.

"Vision Zero would slow bikers down to the speed limit of a truck on the road and it's known that trucks are always about ten per cent over the limit, which would mean a truck would overtake as bike on the motorway," he said.

Other proposals causing concern are raising the age limit to 18 for motor scooters, tightening drink-drive laws and reducing the speed limit on major roads to 70kmh.

Only way

Stefan Siegrist of the BFU says that the measures are the only way to get bikers to drive more carefully.

"Motorcyclists are speeding and they are speeding more often than car drivers on rural roads," Siegrist said.

"There are several measures on a legal, education and technical level, also rescue services could be improved and motorcyclists would profit from this," he added.

The BFU said that motorcyclists are seven times more likely to be involved in accidents than car drivers.

Pro Moto has ready handed in a petition with more than 200,000 signatures urging the government to rethink Vision Zero.

And some bikers groups will be involved in the consultation proves before the government reveals some firm proposals by the end of the year.

swissinfo, Isobel Johnson

Key facts

There are 500,000 bikers in Switzerland
Over 10,000 protested in Bern
There are 600 road accident deaths a year and 100 are from motocyclists.

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