Compiled & Edited by Bill Bish,

National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM)

The latest in a line of “BIKER’S GUIDE” brochures was recently unveiled during the Mock Legislative Session at this year’s NCOM Convention in Mobile, Alabama. Conducted by the National Coalition Of Motorcyclists’ Legislative Task Force (NCOM-LTF), the seminar was a hands-on demonstration of passing legislation, providing a perfect opportunity to unveil the new “A BIKER’S GUIDE TO MAKING LAW” educational brochure of similar topic.

The new tri-fold brochure was produced by the NCOM-LTF to explain how to get a bill introduced and lobby for pro-motorcycle legislation, and is being provided free of charge to any Motorcycle Rights Organization (MRO), Confederation of Clubs (COC), NCOM Member Group, club or organization, through Aid to Injured Motorcyclists (A.I.M.) and the Law Offices of Richard M. Lester.

“The Biker’s Guide was well received,” said Frank Ernst, Chairman of the NCOM-LTF following the mock session on May 12th. “After we passed them out, many attendees came up and asked if they could have additional copies, and most agreed it is a valuable tool and will give people help on how to get started in the process.”

A BIKER’S GUIDE TO MAKING LAW joins previous titles in the educational series which includes; RUNNING FOR PUBLIC OFFICE, COMMUNICATING WITH GOVERNMENT, and NEWS MEDIA RELATIONS, and for free copies for you and your motorcycle group, call A.I.M./NCOM at (800) ON-A-BIKE (800-662-2453).

Nationwide motorcycle traffic fatalities dropped by 5.6% from 2016 to 2017, a new report shows. The Governors Highway Safety Association released a report in May showcasing preliminary data on last year’s motorcycle fatalities by state. Per the report, U.S. motorcycle fatalities dropped by 296 deaths — from 5,286 in 2016 to a projected 4,990 last year. That’s coming off a 5.1% increase in such road fatalities from 2015 to 2016, the report states.

The figures reported are projections based on preliminary data provided for 2017 from all 50 states and the District of Columbia. Compared with 2016, motorcyclist fatalities are estimated to have decreased in 30 states, remained the same in two states, and increased in 18 states.

U.S. Representatives Austin Scott (R-GA) and Lois Frankel (D-FL) have introduced the bipartisan “Consumer Protection and Fuel Transparency Act of 2018” to require the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to expand consumer awareness on how to safely use fuel containing more than 10% ethanol.

Since motorcycle and ATV engines are prohibited from using fuel with more than 10% ethanol content, namely E15 (fuel containing 15% ethanol), improved labeling, fuel pump safeguards, and education outreach are key to protecting consumers. E15 fuel is sold at many retail gas stations, and currently 63% of consumers assume all products sold at these stations are safe for their engines despite the fact that high ethanol fuel blends can damage smaller engines and void manufacturer warranties.
With the full support of all 28 member states, the European Union will impose “rebalancing” tariffs on U.S. imports ranging from Harley-Davidson motorcycles to Levi’s jeans beginning in July in retaliation over President Donald Trump’s decision to put duties on European aluminum and steel. After failing to win trade concessions, on June 1 the Trump administration withdrew exemptions given to imported metals from the EU, Canada and Mexico from global tariffs imposed in March, citing “national security” interests.

Harley-Davidson has warned of a “significant impact” on its sales from reprisal duties, saying in a statement; “We believe a punitive, retaliatory tariff on Harley-Davidson motorcycles in any of our major markets would have a significant impact on our sales, our dealers, our suppliers and our customers in those markets.”

The Milwaukee-based Motor Company claims such tariffs on raw materials would inflate its costs by an additional $15-20 million this year.

Likewise, India is countering the Trump tariffs by proposing an increase on import duty on 30 American products, including “specific motorcycles imported from the U.S.”, by up to 100%.

The Motorcycle Industry Council, in coordination with the Congressional Motorcycle Caucus, hosted a briefing on “Intelligent Transportation Systems and Automated Vehicle Applications Impacts on Motorcycle Safety” on May 22. Caucus co-chairs, U.S. Representatives Tim Walberg (R-MI) and Michael Burgess (R-TX) addressed the Caucus’s mission to support riders through education and awareness, the potential for technologies to improve the riding experience and bring in new riders, and why the discussion on how motorcycles will factor into a connected and autonomous world is so important.

The briefing, moderated by Callie Hoyt, MIC’s manager of federal affairs, featured a panel of industry and research experts: Sam Campbell, BMW Group; Gary Higgins, American Honda Motor Company, Inc.; Shane McLaughlin, Virginia Tech Transportation Institute; and Eric Teoh, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

“Visibility on the road can equate to life or death for motorcyclists, and human error is a major factor in that equation. If emerging connected and automated technologies are developed to correctly detect and respond to motorcycles, their deployment holds the potential to considerably decrease motorcyclist injury and fatality rates,” Hoyt said.

Panelists discussed how connected and autonomous applications relate to motorcycles, how the applications can supplement one another, and the overall effect that widespread connected and automated technology can have on motorcycling.

Both the House and Senate have been developing legislation that would establish the first federal regulatory framework for autonomous vehicle (AV) technologies. The briefing recognized the importance of ensuring that the needs of everyone on the road — particularly motorcyclists — are addressed in AV legislative and regulatory landscapes, as well as in real-life applications.

Advanced technology will also affect motorcycle rider training programs, and the panel talked about the need to train riders on how to interact with connected and automated vehicles.

It’s not only cars and trucks: automated tech is starting to show up wherever there are wheels, and companies are starting to focus on making motorcycles safer with automated-driving technology. Exposed to the elements and operating on two wheels instead of four, motorcyclists are particularly defenseless in the event of a crash. Yet there’s been little innovation in the motorcycle safety industry until recently.

Earlier this year, major auto parts supplier Bosch announced it was working on driver-assistance systems for motorcycles, like adaptive cruise control, which accelerates and decelerates to avoid potential collisions. Before that, a Canadian startup called Damon X Labs also launched with the intention of creating a similar system for motorcycles.

Now, Israel-based startup Ride Vision is also working on rider safety features for motorcycles, creating an alert system that uses relatively inexpensive front- and rearview cameras to give a 360-degree view of the motorcycle’s immediate surroundings. The system uses lights attached to the motorcycle’s rearview mirrors to alert the motorcyclist when there is a chance of collision — whether there’s a car passing or if the rider is leaning too hard.

Skully Technologies, an Atlanta-based wearable tech company, is introducing a DOT certified motorcycle helmet that has augmented reality and artificial intelligence features including a heads-up display, rearview camera, Smart Phone and Bluetooth integration, with hands-free control and other smart technology.

While some of the self-driving sensors and systems are the same between cars and motorcycles, it’s a notably different product says; “While the mechanics are different, the automated motorcycle industry will likely move in a similar direction as the autonomous car industry. Startups and suppliers alike will rush to partner with major motorcycle manufacturers to begin testing and then eventually producing vehicles with this technology.”

Motorcycle-only roadside checkpoints first appeared in New York in 2009; functioning like sobriety checkpoints, motorcycle-only checkpoints (MOC) allow law enforcement to pull over motorcyclists without cause, for an on-the-spot safety, license, and helmet inspection. Since then, these so-called safety checkpoints have popped up across the country and have spiked controversy as opponents claim invasion of privacy and discrimination against motorcyclists over the operators of other motor vehicles.

Nineteen states now bar such roadblocks either through legislation or judicial proceedings (AK CA IL ID IA LA MD MO MI MN NC NH OR RI TX VA WA WI & WY), and in 2015 Congress banned the use of federal funds for MOCs as part of the FAST Act highway bill. Yet they continue to be a problem for bikers in some states.

Although in 2011 New Hampshire became the first state to prohibit the use of federal funds to conduct discriminatory motorcycle-only stops by police, the “Live Free Or Die” state recently enacted Senate Bill 516 to prohibit motorcycle-only checkpoints outright.

Signed by Governor Chris Sununu on May 30, 2018, effective immediately; “No law enforcement officer or agency shall establish or conduct motorcycle-only checkpoints.”

Senator Grace Poe of the Philippines has recently filed a resolution in the Senate to look into legislation and ordinances that lead to the discrimination of motorcycle riders. The resolution notes the prevalence of, “stricter checkpoints specifically targeting motorcycle riders and the latter are now perceived by the community as reckless riders and/or prone to criminal activities.”

It cites the following activities as discriminatory to riders: “a. irregular PNP checkpoints; b. national laws that penalize motorcycle riders excessively; c. high fines being imposed against motorcycle riders; and d. local ordinances that have overlooked the income of minimum wage-earning motorists.”

The resolution is hoped to review current legislation, ordinances, and law enforcement practices that specifically target motorcycle riders. Riders of the Philippines recently united several groups to ride in protest of such discriminatory practices, and drew several thousand attendees.

The resolution, filed on May 28, 2018, ends with the statement, “that while it intends to substantially bring down the number of accidents and crimes involving motorcycles, the State shall not do so to the detriment of the rights of motorcycle riders who seem to be treated with automatic disdain and “Harassment” at times.”

Motorcycle racing is in danger in the U.K. and across Europe as new insurance rules loom, and the Motorcycle Industry Association (MIA) has called on EU member governments to reject the latest European Commission proposals, which have the potential to end all competitive motorsports across England…”Even if this means defying Brussels.”

The EU directive amends aspects of the Motor Insurance Directive, responding to the so-called ‘Vnuk’ judgment from 2014 which ruled that all mechanically propelled vehicles must have third-party insurance, even if they are only used on private land.

The insurance industry has already made it clear that it would be difficult to provide such insurance given the risks involved with racing and that doing so could be incredibly expensive and lead to “catastrophic damage inflicted on motorsports across the board if this ruling becomes law,” according to the MIA. In other EU countries where this has already been applied, premiums have risen dramatically making many events unsustainable.

The proposals represent a complete U-turn from the European Commission’s previous position in 2016, when it proposed to exclude vehicles not being used ‘in traffic’. This would have made all forms of motorsports exempt from the impact of the ruling, impacting around £11 billion ($14.6 billion USD) to the U.K. economy alone.

QUOTABLE QUOTE: “Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty.”
~Henry David Thoreau (1817-62), American Essayist, Philosopher