Tag Archives: air pollution

Riders breathe easier in new Sydney tunnel

The “next gen” in road tunnels recently opened in northern Sydney with the NorthConnex tunnel boasting cleaner air for motorcycle riders.

The tunnel links the M1 Pacific Motorway at Wahroonga to the Hills M2 Motorway at West Pennant Hills in Sydney’s north. 

Prime Minister Scott Morrison described the 9km tunnel as “one of the most significant and eagerly anticipated road infrastructure projects ever delivered in Australia”.

Riders have long complained about exhaust fumes in road tunnels, especially when traffic grinds to a halt.

It’s a long-term health hazard!

Not quite as bad as having a mattress fall off in front of you as this rider found in a Brisbane tunnel.

However, commuting to work and breathing in exhaust fumes every day in a confined tunnel can have a significant impact on riders’ long-term health.

However, Transurban says the NorthConnex twin tunnel will improve Pennants Hill congestion, safety, traffic noise and air quality.

More importantly for riders, it features the latest ventilation systems that meet some of the most stringent standards in the world for operational in-tunnel air quality, says a company spokesperson.

The higher and wider tunnel design enables greater volumes of fresh air to move through the tunnel minimising the potential for emissions to build up and the gentle gradient allowing vehicles maintain consistent speeds reducing vehicle emissions,” she says.

Classic motorcycles BSA

The tunnel has 142 roof mounted jet fans to push air through the tunnel, complementing the natural air flow generated by vehicles, pushing air into the tunnel in a “piston effect” and providing more airflow when traffic flow is slow.

As part of the Conditions of Approval, the in-tunnel and ventilation outlet air quality has been monitored and reported since NorthConnex opened to traffic last month. 

If you are still concerned with the air you great in the tunnel you can see the live air quality data here.

NorthConnex operations and maintenance team monitor the tunnel 24/7 with 850 CCTV cameras with 100% coverage so any incidents or issues are acted on immediately.

“Drivers and riders have been quick to embrace Sydney’s newest tunnel, and we’re seeing traffic flow well in and around Sydney’s newest tunnel,” the spokesperson says.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Carrot and stick for electric vehicles

Singapore plans a carrot and stick approach to phase out fossil-fuel-powered vehicles by 2040 with a raft of attractive incentives for electric vehicles on top of bans on some fossil-fuelled vehicles.

The carrot includes a 45% rebate up to $20,000, an increase in charging points from 1600 to 28,000 and a cheaper lump-sum road tax to offset losses in fuel taxes.

Singapore’s electric car population currently stands at 1125, or just 0.18% of the 631,266 vehicles on the road. 

Carrot and stick

The stick is a ban on new cars and motorcycles unless they replace an existing vehicle.

Singapore is the the most expensive place in the world to own a car, yet it has more Maseratis, Ferraris and Lamborghinis per capita than anywhere else in the world.Singapore

Banning new cars has not stopped the super-rich who just buy an old car, trash it and replace it with their supercar.

So they have chosen the carrot of incentive measures on top of the stick approach of bans in an effort to reduce both air and noise pollution

Bans grow

It follows recent announcements in Sweden and the UK that they will ban internal-combustion-engine (ICE) vehicles by 2030 and 2035, while many cities around the world such as Brussels and Milan are banning them from their CBDs.

While motorcycles are at this stage excluded from the UK timeframe, they will not be exempt in the long run. It’s just a matter of time.

Lux Research Senior Analyst Christopher Robinson is skeptical of most of these announcements, except for Singapore.

“First and foremost, Singapore’s vehicle fleet is quite new, with the average age of a vehicle being just 5.46 years, making the time required to turn over the entire fleet of vehicles much shorter than that of other countries,” he says.

“The country focuses on transportation as a pillar of its Smart Nation initiative, and as a significantly smaller country of 5.5 million, enacting strict regulations and enforcement wouldn’t be as challenging as in larger automotive markets.”

Indian EV carrot

Emflux ONE electric motorcycleIndian Emflux ONE electric motorcycle

Prime Minister Modi is also adopting a carrot and stick approach.

He originally said all new cars and utility vehicles manufactured in the country would be electric by 2030, but he backed down after an industry backlash.

However, he is waving a $1.4 billion carrot to manufactures to make electric motorbikes and scooters, plus road tax exemptions for owners of electric vehicles.

Meanwhile, fossil-fuelled bikes face much tougher emissions regulations.

India is one of the biggest automobile manufacturers in the world, producing 4.6 millions cars last year.

It is also the biggest motorcycle and scooter market in the world with more than 21m sales a year. That is a sixth of the world’s motorcycle sales.

Sales of electric scooters in India more than doubled from 54,800 in 2016 to 126,000 in 2018, but they dropped last year as people are waiting for rebates from Modi’s EV plan.

Indian motorcycle companies Hero Electric, Ather Energy, Emflux, Twenty Two Motors, Okinawa and many other start-ups produce electric scooters and motorcycles.

Australia EV plans

In Australia, the Greens want a similar ban, the ALP plans 50% of new vehicles will be electric by 2030 and the Coalition projects 25-50% will be electric.

No matter what Australia “decides”, the matter would be out of our hands if the world stops making fossil-fuelled vehicles.

The writing seems to be on the wall … our beloved bikes are eventually heading for extinction as disturbingly presented in the dystopian film, The World’s Last Motorcycle.

It depicts a future dominated by autonomous vehicles where motorcycles are banned not only because of pollution, but because of safety.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Jacket protects from bushfire smoke

Italian motorcycle rider protection company SPIDI is working on a smog-proof jacket and mask that could protect riders from the current bushfire smoke spread across NSW and Queensland.

The Spidi Mission Beta is currently just a concept.

However, it seems to be an advancement on their Beta Pro which has a special waterproof membrane and face mask.

How it works

The Mission Beta mask features an air pollution sensor that provides the rider with visual warnings on air pollution via an OLED display on the jacket’s left arm or clutch side. It also vibrates to warn of rising levels.

spidi mission beta concept smoke acket
Warning level display

When the level rises above low, your magic consider using the mask. If it reaches “high” better gear that mask on now!

The sensor system turns on when the jacket is moved and off when it is still so you don’t waste battery.

The mask is designed to work with any motorcycle helmet.

Smoke dangers

Many riders are resorting to wearing face masks or neck socks to protect them from the current bushfire smoke.

Certainly they filter the big carbon particles which can worsen asthma and other respiratory conditions or penetra, cause coughing and shortness of breath and irritate your eyes, nose and throat.

However, they are useless against the finer particles that can penetrate deep into your lungs, causing inflammation that can exacerbate existing health conditions such as asthma, emphysema and heart problems.

In 2017, French company R-PUR developed a face mask to protect against these fine pollutants which are present in urban commuting even when there aren’t bushfires.

R-PUR mask

Spidi says riders are exposed to air pollution around 100 times more than drivers and 10 times more than pedestrians or cyclists.

It’s worth noting that air pollution is the fourth biggest cause of death in the world with 5.5m fatalities a year.

It also apparently can take more than two years off your life expectancy if you are exposed to it on a daily basis.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Is it legal to remove your motorbike’s cat?

Police are allegedly fining riders who remove the catalytic convertor or cat from their motorcycle, according to several motorcycle dealers.

While the replacement of the muffler or exhaust system may contravene noise rules, removing the cat has nothing to do with noise, but with air pollution.

The cat is that ugly metal box often underneath your motorcycle.

It burns red hot to reduce toxic gases and the size of pollutants in the exhaust gas.

Some actually claim it causes more asthmatic reactions because it reduces the size of the airborne carbon which infiltrates the lungs easier.

Cat removal

cat catalytic convertor
Ugly muffler and cat on a Ducati Scrambler

Brisbane barrister Levente Jurth is currently investigating the laws as he is challenging a fine for an aftermarket exhaust on his Aprilia Tuono 1100.

Despite exhaustive legal research, he says he can find no mention in the ADRs of removing a catalytic convertor being illegal.

However, there remains conflicting views over whether it is illegal to remove the cat.

Mark Barnett, Product Manager for Link International which distributes Arrow exhausts says the gaseous emissions laws under ADR 79.04 do not apply to scooters, motorcycles or trikes.

“Some of our dealers have said they know of riders being prosecuted for removing cats,” Mark says.

He says the Federal Department of Transport and Regional Services told him that ADR 79.04 would never be applied to motorcycles as it was “too difficult to enforce and the numbers are too small to make it worth their while”.cat catalytic convertor

However, Motorcycle Council of NSW exhaust expert Brian Wood says bikes are also subject to environment laws.

Once registered, a vehicle becomes subject to the ‘in-service’ regulations that apply in the state in which the vehicle is registered,” he says.

In NSW, most ‘in-service’ regulations are administered by the Roads and Maritime Services (RMS).

“In the case of exhaust emissions, it’s the NSW Environment Protection Authority.”

He says that under the NSW Clean Air Act, it is an offence to remove, disconnect or impair a system.

The offence for an individual is 200 penalty units. A penalty unit is current $110. So 200 penalty units would be $22,000.

Similar rules apply around the country.

So while you may be able to remove the cat under ADRs, you may run foul of environment laws.

Aftermarket exhaustsAftermarket exhaust peeves enemy resale illegal cat

While on the subject of aftermarket exhausts, Mark says the ADRs override local state rules.

“We’ve had TMR officers in Queensland going to dealerships and saying every bike on the plot fitted with an aftermarket exhaust is illegal and the fine is $550,” he says.

“This is not true. A European homologated exhaust is legal under ADR and therefore is legal in all states and territories in Australia.

“I had an email from a TMR policy office agreeing that an aftermarket exhaust is legal providing it complies to ADR 83.00 and that for a LAMS bike it does not improve the engine performance.

“That’s a ‘gotcha’ for LAMS as most aftermarket exhausts will give an improvement, albeit in Arrow’s case only slight with the dB killer in place.

“However, for some bikes this may break the 150kW-per-tonne LAMS power limit.”

Brian also points out that the ADRs only apply up until the bike is registered and rolls out of the showroom.


Sorry we can’t be more definitive on the legalities of removing a cat.

It seems to be a grey area that is exploited by police and transport officials to penalise motorists.

Stay tuned for Levente’s challenge to the laws. He is hopeful of a win that will set a legal precedent for all riders.

We will have the verdict on his case as soon as it is available.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com

Plan to ban motorcycles from Brussels CBD

Belgium, which recognised the advantages of motorcycle commuting, may soon ban motorcycles from the Brussels CBD.

In 2011, the Belgian Leuven Transport and Mobility study found if 10% of all private cars were replaced by motorcycles, it would reduce traffic congestion by 40%.

However, the Belgian environment department is now considering banning motorcycles from Brussels because they don’t comply with the latest emissions regulations. However, they move to Euro5 targets from next year.

It’s a worrying development as governments around the world consider banning motorcycles or applying CBD congestion taxes.

CBD taxes and bans

Earlier this month, Melbourne renewed calls for a CBD congestion tax, but now the plan is to include motorcycles and scooters.

It’s not alone as cities around the world have introduced or are introducing congestion charges and bans on motorcycles not only to reduce traffic congestion but also air pollution:

  • Singapore has road-user charges in a CBD zone resulting in a 20% reduction in delays and plans to ban pre-2003 motorcycles throughout the city in 10 years;
  • Milan’s Ecopass charges all vehicles entering a designated traffic restricted zone and bans old cars and bikes that do not meet set emissions standards;
  • A cordon charge in Stockholm has led to 24% fewer commuter trips by car (motorcycles and scooters are exempt), with most people switching to public transport and Gothenburg following the same example;
  • China and Brazil are considering congestion charges in various cities;
  • Oregon, USA, has trialled a voluntary pay-per-mile distance charge resulting in a 22% drop in traffic in peak hours and a 91% approval by participants; and
  • London’s Low Emissions Zone charge has helped stabilise traffic congestion over the past decade despite population growth of 1.3 million. Motorcycles, scooters and electric vehicles are exempt, but from next month some older bikes will cop a £12.50 daily fee to access the new London Ultra Low Emissions Zone.London roundabout has safe boxes for cyclists, but not motorcyclists or scooter riders

Belgian waffle

The Belgian move follows recent reports in France and LA that point out that motorcycles have higher emissions levels than cars.

That’s true as cars are now on Euro6 and motorcycles are Euro4, moving to Euro 5 from January.

However, motorcycles are only a small proportion of the CBD traffic population.

Also, the plan does not take into account the fact that electric motorcycles and scooters sales are increasing at about 40% in Europe.

Such a short-sighted proposal should be seen as an indiscriminate attack on a legitimate and effective means of transport.

Source: MotorbikeWriter.com