Category: Riding Club News
Written by Suzie Healey
THE AIM/NCOM MOTORCYCLE E-NEWS SERVICE is brought to you by Aid to Injured Motorcyclists (A.I.M.) and the National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM), and is sponsored by the Law Offices of Richard M. Lester. For more information, call us at 1-(800) ON-A-BIKE or visit us on our website at http://www.ON-A-BIKE.com
NCOM BIKER NEWS BYTES Compiled & Edited by Bill Bish, National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM)
NATIONAL MOTORCYCLE CRASH STUDY UNDERWAY Southern California motorcyclists who crash their bikes may play an unintentional role in improving motorcycle safety nationwide, as the pilot portion of the federal government's much-anticipated Motorcycle Crash Causation Study kicked off at various locations throughout Los Angeles in December.
Data will be compiled from LAPD accident reports and information recorded by mechanical sensors and cameras placed at intersections until at least 27 accidents have occurred and are documented -- a milestone that will likely be reached by March.
According to Doug Hecox, spokesman for the Federal Highway Administration, the Department of Transportation entity managing the pilot study, the pilot is "purely to test the methodology" that will be applied to the broader Motorcycle Crash Causation Study, which is expected to kick off in about a year in a handful of different states. Final results of which won't be available until at least 2013.
Much has changed since the last such motorcycle accident study, the 1981 Hurt Report; about 11 million street bikes have been sold in the U.S. The average rider's age has increased from 27 to 41, and the overall rider population has grown to roughly 7 million. Traffic mix, driving/riding laws, and more powerful motorcycles are some other variables.
In 2005 Congress authorized over $2 million to fund a new motorcycle crash causation study under a federal transportation reauthorization bill (a.k.a.
SAFETEA-LU), with the caveat that federal funds be matched from a nongovernmental source. Much of the matching funding has come from national motorcycle organizations, some of which hail the report as long overdue and necessary for planning safety countermeasures, while other groups fear yet another typically lopsided anti-motorcycle government report.
FEDS DECLINE TO INCREASE TARIFFS ON EUROPEAN MOTORCYCLES U.S. trade officials have decided not to include motorcycles on their lengthy list of European products that will soon face increased tariffs in retaliation for a European Union ban on imports of hormone-fed beef from America.
In public comments submitted to the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative opposing the possible 100% import duties, many motorcycle organizations, industry groups, manufacturers, dealers and others pointed to the extensive economic impact on businesses and jobs affected by such retaliatory tariffs, as well as a hardship for motorcycle enthusiasts. Also, motorcycle usage should be encouraged for fuel efficiency and easing traffic congestion and parking.
U.S. Trade Representative Susan Schwab noted her office received approximately 600 comments regarding which of more than 100 European goods should be subjected to the tariffs.
"An interagency committee of trade experts and economists reviewed the public comments and provided recommendations to the USTR with respect to modifications that would result in a more effective action, while taking account of effects on the U.S. economy, including consumers," she said regarding the list of European Union products slated for tariff increases beginning March 23; but their beef with the EU will no longer threaten to double the price of imported Euro motorcycles and scooters.
MYRTLE BEACH SAYS NO TO BIKERS Myrtle Beach has launched a website and printed brochures advising visitors that from the city's perspective, the May motorcycle rallies are over.
The Website bears a message from Mayor John Rhodes stating that the "Harley-Davidson Dealers Association Spring Rally and the Atlantic Beach Memorial Day Bikefest will not be held in Myrtle Beach", and lists 15 new laws the City Council has passed to discourage bikers from coming to town.
Designed by the Myrtle Beach Chamber of Commerce, the top of the site proclaims; "effective 2009, Myrtle Beach, SC will no longer host motorcycle rallies."
To deter bikers, the city implemented stricter noise and muffler rules, will be enforcing a municipal helmet law, require eye protection while riding and a variety of restrictions on vendors, parties and motorcycle parking. The city passed a property tax increase to fund the anti-rally campaign.
But the Myrtle Beach Bike Week website counters this, saying that the rallies have not been cancelled. The Myrtle Beach Harley-Davidson website is still encouraging motorcyclists to come. It states that 90% of the events and most of the businesses that cater to the 500,000 bikers who come to the region during three weeks in May are in Horry County, which has not adopted any new ordinances and welcomes riders to the 69th annual event, scheduled for May 8th - 17th 2009, if the rally goes on.
MAKING NOISE ABOUT NOISE Numerous communities around the country are attempting to regulate noise, and specifically loud motorcycle exhausts. Although enforceability is questionable, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania is planning a controversial new ordinance to curtail incessant noise.
Town officials haven't fully explained why the ordinance is necessary, other than to acknowledge that neighboring municipalities have similar regulations, but the borough does not. "We ought to be regulating our noise pollution," said one Councilman.
"How do you pull over 50 motorcycles when one is being loud?" said police chief Joe Dougherty. "It's violating someone's constitutional rights."
When asked if the department owns noise equipment, Dougherty quipped: "I'm sure we do, but I don't know where it's at. If I looked for it, I could find it, but we only have one person trained to use the equipment."
The ordinance is currently being reviewed for legal sufficiency, including enforceability.
Meanwhile, a bill recently introduced in New Hampshire would prohibit motorcycle exhaust modifications, reduce permissible motorcycle noise levels, increase fines for motorcycle noise violations, and requires all motorcycles to have functioning tachometers.
House Bill 95 authorizes fines of up to $500 for operating a motorcycle that has aftermarket mufflers installed, or does not have a working tach.
A similar law was enacted in Denver that requires motorcycle mufflers to have a factory-issued U.S. Environmental Protection Agency sound-test stamp.
But some who have protested the ordinance since it took effect in July
2007 have gone as far as to take the issue to court, arguing that the ordinance is vague and unenforceable.
One "victim" of the ordinance is Jeffrey Lubbert, who was pulled over on his motorcycle in August 2007 when an officer testified that he heard exhaust pipes that were "louder based on my training and experience," according to court documents.
Lubbert fought the citation that he was issued, making it the "test case"
for the ordinance, according to his lawyer, Colorado Aid to Injured Motorcyclists (A.I.M.) Attorney Wade H. Eldridge.
Factory-issued pipes come with the EPA stamp and meet the 82-decibel standard. But aftermarket mufflers may not come with the stamp, while still meeting the 82-decibel standard, argues Eldridge. It is nearly impossible to have the pipes certified and officers do not carry decibel readers.
"It's unreasonable to stop someone and say your pipes are louder than normal when you don't know what normal is," argues Eldridge, who specializes in defending bikers. "That just doesn't cut it."
GANGING UP ON BIKERS In an ongoing effort to reduce crimes committed by criminal street gangs, many states have passed or are considering anti-gang laws that loosely define "gangs", violate Constitutional protections and can be used to harass and intimidate motorcycle clubs and mainstream motorcycle groups.
North Carolina recently joined with California and Ohio in enacting tough gang legislation that enhances penalties by adding years onto the sentences for those convicted of a crime who are members of a gang.
The N.C. Street Gang Suppression Act is the state's first attempt to legally define a street gang, and it makes membership against the law. The law defines gangs as "any ongoing organization, association, or group of three or more persons" that has a primary activity of committing felony acts, has members involved in gang activity and has a common name, identifying sign or symbol."
It also gives law enforcement and government the authority to seize property associated with gang activity.
Likewise, the Michigan legislature has enacted a set of "Gang Bills" and sent Senate Bill 291 to the governor's desk on January 6th. Based upon a similar definition of a "gang", the bill states that "If a person who is an associate or a member of a gang commits a felony or attempts to commit a felony and the person's association or membership in the gang provides the motive, means, or opportunity to commit the felony, the PERSON is guilty of a felony punishable by imprisonment for not more than 20 years."
In Utah, a newspaper ad for a Toys For Tots event and flyers distributed by the Vagos Motorcycle Club spurred one Garland, UT citizen to form a Neighborhood Watch and spearhead a grassroots effort to toughen state gang laws, resulting in five bills being introduced to toughen punishment for involvement in gang activity and to make associating with or being a member of a criminal street gang illegal in the Beehive State. The latest in a spate of gang legislation, the sponsor of the bills along with gang investigators spent months researching other states' gang laws to find ideas that may be effective in Utah, such as anti-gang loitering legislation and declaring gang-free zones.
WEIRD NEWS: NIGERIAN RIDERS WEAR FRUIT TO COMPLY WITH NEW HELMET LAW As many as 98% of Nigeria's motorcyclists shunned the new national helmet law when it went into effect January 1st, leading to scores of arrests, near-riots and sometimes violent confrontations with traffic police.
Professional motorcycle taxi drivers called Okada have now resorted to wearing fruit shells, pots or pieces of rubber tied to their heads with string to avoid arrest and impoundment of their vehicles.
In the state capital of Kaduna, hundreds of motorcyclists staged protests against the crash helmet directive, storming major roads chanting war songs and causing panic and traffic jams. In Lagos, at least 2,500 violators of the directive have so far been arrested as the Federal Road Safety Commission intensified the enforcement campaign for both riders and passengers. In Osun State, the Nigerian Tribune reported that no fewer than
73 motorcycles have been impounded by the FRSC because their operators failed to abide by the use of crash helmet.
The regulations have caused chaos around Africa's most populous nation, with motorcyclists complaining helmets are scarce, too expensive, dirty and some passengers refuse to wear them fearing they will catch skin disease or be put under a black magic spell.
2009 NCOM CONVENTION IN RENO The 24th annual NCOM Convention will be held Mother's Day weekend, May
7-10, 2009 at the Nugget Casino & Resort in Reno, Nevada. This annual gathering will draw bikers rights activists from across the country to discuss topics of concern to all motorcyclists, so reserve your room now for the special NCOM rate of $89.00 by calling (800) 648-1177.
Meetings, seminars and group discussions will focus on safety issues, legal rights, legislative efforts and litigation techniques to benefit our right to ride and Freedom of the Road.
Registration fees for the NCOM Convention are $75 including the Silver Spoke Awards Banquet on Saturday night, or $40 for the Convention only. To pre-register, call the National Coalition of Motorcyclists at (800)
525-5355 or visit www.ON-A-BIKE.com
QUOTABLE QUOTE: "You cannot help the poor by destroying the rich. You cannot strengthen the weak by weakening the strong. You cannot bring about prosperity by discouraging thrift. You cannot lift the wage earner up by pulling the wage payer down. You cannot further the brotherhood of man by inciting class hatred. You cannot build character and courage by taking away people's initiative and independence. You cannot help people permanently by doing for them, what they could and should do for themselves."
Abraham Lincoln (1809-1865), sixteenth President of the United States To subscribe/unsubscribe from this news letter http://aimncom.com/mailman/listinfo/cycle_news_aimncom.com