RIDING FREE FROM DC:
Your Weekly Biker Bulletin from Inside the Beltway
Your Motorcycle Riders Foundation team in Washington, D.C. is pleased to provide our members with the latest information and updates on issues that impact the freedom and safety of American street motorcyclists. Count on your MRF to keep you informed about a range of matters that are critical to the advancement of motorcycling and its associated lifestyle. Published weekly when the U.S. Congress is in session.
Latest Report from Safety Group Projects Increase in Motorcyclist Fatalities in 2015
Last week, the Governor’s Highway Safety Association (GHSA) released its preliminary data and findings regarding motorcycle fatalities in 2015. While the report highlights a 10% increase in motorcycle fatalities in 2015, this is preliminary data, for a single year-over-year statistic. The report failed to connect the presence or lack of universal helmet laws to the projected increase, while calling for its reinstatement. After a comprehensive review from MRF staff and our affiliated partners, some of the other factors like weather conditions in 2015 (which resulted in a significantly longer riding season), riding experience, unlicensed motorcyclists, and potentially faulty data were merely glossed over in the report or not addressed at all.
Interestingly, while making a very loud call for a universal helmet law (and identifying DOT-compliant helmets as the #1 safety action for motorcyclists to take), there was no correlation to the statistics as to how many fatalities were wearing helmets or not! In fact, California, Florida, Texas, and North Carolina accounted for 35% of the fatalities in 2015 and in two of those states, helmet use is mandatory. Further, in Florida, which had the largest number of overall fatalities, a significant number comes during the weeks around one of the country’s largest motorcycle rallies. Clearly, there are other factors to be weighed.
Reports such as these, even in the name of safety, must be monitored and reviewed carefully. Many of the organizations that draft these “safety reports” receive federal tax dollars and it is critical to keep a close eye; especially on those groups that oppose motorcyclists’ rights.
Maryland Moves the Needle On Anti-Profiling
As many of you know, last week the motorcyclists of Maryland counted a major victory when a proposal expressly prohibiting the profiling of
motorcyclists was signed into law. Maryland is now the second state to pass a motorcyclist anti-profiling law. Washington state passed related legislation in 2011. Federally, the issue has been gaining traction due to the MRF’s recent “Michael ‘Boz’ Kerr Bikers Inside the Beltway” event where it was raised before elected officials in Washington, D.C. In the meantime, we will continue to mount pressure on Capitol Hill to ensure that unjust motorcycle discrimination is not tolerated.
Megan’s Take: Leadership Changes Possibly on the Horizon at Transportation & Infrastructure Committee
For motorcyclists, many of the issues we are affected by are often dealt within the powerful Transportation & Infrastructure (T&I) Committee within the U.S. House of Representatives. For several years now, Congressman Bill Shuster of Pennsylvania has chaired the committee. However, some questions have been raised recently about the Chairman’s relationship and advocacy with the airline industry; specifically, the Airlines for America association. Though an official investigation has not been launched and the Chairman maintains ethical lines were never crossed, rumblings of a new head of the committee have been heard in the halls on Capitol Hill.
One potential contender for the coveted spot is Congressman Sam Graves of Missouri. Graves is currently an influential member of the T&I Committee and was instrumental in the passage of the FAST Act. As a reminder, the FAST Act is the highway bill that was signed into public law by the President this year. Importantly, it contained beneficial language for motorcyclists including the reestablishment of the Motorcyclist Advisory Council, and the mandate that no government funding can be used to stop motorcyclists at motorcycle-only check points.
We’ll hear more on this as we get closer to the election, but likely won’t see anything official until we know who and what party will hold the power come November. In the meantime, ride free and ride safe.
Your Friend in Washington,
Vice-President of Government Affairs & Public Relations
The Motorcycle Riders Foundation
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