NCOM BIKER NEWSBYTES
Compiled & Edited by Bill Bish,
National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM)
HIGHWAY BILL SIGNED INTO LAW
Passed by the House 359-65 on Thursday afternoon, December 3rd, and approved by the Senate 83-16 later that same day, a long-awaited long-term highway funding bill has been signed into law by President Barack Obama, marking big gains for the nation’s infrastructure and America’s motorcyclists, among others.
Overwhelmingly approved by Congress a day before current funding expired, the 1,300-page five-year $305 billion measure increases federal money for transportation infrastructure projects around the country, addressing our aging and congested highways and bridges after years of stymied efforts.
The legislation, dubbed “Fixing America’s Surface Transportation (FAST) Act”, takes effect immediately and represents a 25% increase in federal funds committed to surface transportation infrastructure.
In addition, the good news for motorcyclists is that the new Highway Bill prohibits the Department of Transportation from awarding grants to local and state governments for motorcycle-only checkpoint programs, effectively preventing such discriminatory roadblocks; Reinstates the Motorcycle Advisory Council (MAC) to advise the federal government on infrastructure issues of concern to motorcyclists; Funds motorcycle safety grants and distracted driving programs, and makes it easier for states to qualify; Establishes privacy and security measures in infrastructure technologies and data retrieval; and Continues funding for off-highway recreation.
FEDS INCREASE ETHANOL LEVELS
The federal government has substantially increased the mandated amount of ethanol to be used in America’s gasoline next year, from 16.93 billion gallons in 2015 to 18.11 billion gallons in 2016, harkening widespread availability of higher-ethanol fuel blends, such as E15, which can damage motorcycle engines and void manufacturer warranties.
The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced the increase as part of the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), which mandates the volume of renewable fuels that must be blended into the nation’s fuel supply each year.
E15, which is a fuel blend of 15% ethanol, has not been approved by the EPA for use in any of the estimated 22 million motorcycles and ATVs in the U.S., and Congress has considered measures calling for further study of ethanol and its effect on internal combustion engines.
Meanwhile, many motorcycle and automobile organizations, among others, continue to lobby against ethanol, not just because its unapproved use can damage fuel systems and internal engine parts, reduce power and mileage, and invalidate warranties, but opponents also argue that ethanol pollutes more than the oil it’s meant to replace, takes more energy to produce than it delivers, drives up cost and scarcity of food resources, doesn’t reduce our oil-dependency, and the government subsidies being paid for ethanol production diverts funds that could improve our highways, bridges and infrastructure.
HONDA AND BMW PLEDGE TO ADDRESS GLOBAL WARMING
As 150 Heads of State and Government convened in Paris, France at the 21st Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, with a goal to “reach a new universal climate agreement that is applicable to all,” the hope is that some arrangement can be reached to help reduce carbon emissions worldwide and keep global warming from exceeding a two degree Celsius rise in the coming years.
Emissions legislation and the transition to cleaner energy, both of which are included as strategies toward curbing climate change, have obvious impacts on the motorcycle industry. Europe, for example, has set some of the most stringent emissions standards on motorcycles with further restrictions forthcoming.
Further changes are likely to be seen in the U.S. as well, in part because of the pledges two motorcycle companies have made in accord with strategies outlined by the White House in Paris. American Honda Motor Company and the BMW Group are now involved in efforts to address global warming, both companies signing the American Business Act on Climate Pledge.
In a press release issued November 30, 2015, by the White House, 154 companies are cited as having signed the pledge, each offering company-specific strategies to combat climate change. American Honda and BMW are currently the only two motorcycle OEMs to sign the following pledge:
“We applaud the growing number of countries that have already set ambitious targets for climate action. In this context, we support the conclusion of a climate change agreement in Paris that takes a strong step forward toward a low-carbon, sustainable future.
We recognize that delaying action on climate change will be costly in economic and human terms, while accelerating the transition to a low-carbon economy will produce multiple benefits with regard to sustainable economic growth, public health, resilience to natural disasters, and the health of the global environment.”
CHILDRENS ADVOCATES DENIED ACCESS TO COURTHOUSE OVER CLUB COLORS
The New Mexico Motorcycle Rights Organization (NMMRO) is helping address an issue where a group called the Guardians of the Children, a nonprofit organization of child abuse advocates comprised of motorcyclists, is being denied access to the courthouse unless they remove their motorcycle vests as instructed by the Bernalillo Sheriffs Department.
The patches on these vests help identify themselves to the children and families they are supporting. Along with this, many of the members have received rude and uncalled for treatment by several of the officers.
GOC President Frank Montano and NMMRO Chairperson Annette Torrez (also a member of the NCOM Board of Directors) met with Sheriff Manny Gonzales along with several officers to discuss the matter. “Sheriff Gonzales received us well, listened to our concerns and apologized for the treatment of the deputies,” reports Torrez. He asked them to report any negative actions from the deputies to their internal affairs division and he will see the issue is addressed.
As for the removal of the vest, the Supreme Court says; individuals have the first amendment right to wear clothing which displays writings or designs in a courthouse. There are several cases specific to motorcycle club colors, states the NMMRO.
Recent Federal Case Law confirms motorcycle organization patches and club colors as a protected expression. A U.S. District Court this past September, relying on Supreme Court precedent, concluded that the government may not impose restrictions on an individual solely because of displaying membership in a motorcycle club.
Citing 1985 and 1971 U.S. Supreme Court cases on First Amendment rights states it is not reasonable to prohibit speech in courthouse hallways merely because it may offend someone.
“Sheriff Gonzales suggested we now make an appointment with the Chief Justice where we will address the violation of our 1st Amendment concerning this issue or any ban on motorcycle patches and attire in the court house,” said Torrez, who also told TV stations KRQE Channel 13 and Channel 7 KOAT in interviews that; “It is the people’s court and our house and the government may not impose restrictions on an individual solely because of displaying membership in a motorcycle club or organization.”
MORE FEMALE RIDERS THAN EVER
Motorcycle ownership by women has doubled over the past decade, and female ridership is now at an all-time high. Today, women riders account for 14% of all U.S. motorcycle owners, according to the Motorcycle Industry Council’s latest Motorcycle Owner Survey, well up from the 8% reported in 1998.
“Women continue to embrace motorcycling like never before,” said Sarah Schilke, national marketing manager of BMW Motorrad USA and chair of PowerLily, a group consisting of female motorcycle industry professionals. “Of the 9.2 million owners, more of them are women than we’ve ever recorded. In fact, the number of female owners better than doubled from 2003 to 2014. And, among the more than 30 million Americans who swung a leg over a motorcycle and rode at least one time in 2014, a quarter of these riders were women.”
Among younger generations of owners, the percentage of women is even higher. Slightly more than 17% of Gen X owners, and 17.6% of Gen Y owners, are women. Among Boomer owners, women make up 9%.
The Owner Survey also revealed what type of bikes women prefer. Cruisers are the choice of 34% of female riders. Scooters rank a close second at 33%, followed by sport bikes at 10%. In the survey, of some 48,000 American households, women were also asked to share their top three reasons for riding motorcycles. They answered “fun and recreation,” followed by “sense of freedom” and “enjoy outdoors/nature.” When it comes to purchasing a motorcycle, women rate “Fuel Economy” and “Test Rides” as the most important decision-making factors.
The study revealed that female riders are safety-conscious. While 60% of women took a motorcycle safety course, only 42% of men had any formal training. In some state motorcycle safety training programs, women make up 30% of the student population.
Other key survey results: The median age for female motorcyclists is 39 versus 48 for males; 49% are married; 47% have a college degree; New bikes are preferred over used by 57% of female riders; and 49% of women motorcyclists take care of their own maintenance.
WEIRD NEWS: SAUDI PRINCE “GAMER” HAS WOMEN RACING MOTORCYCLES
Although the women of Saudi Arabia are not authorized to take the wheel, in a new video game designed by Arab royalty, they ride motorcycles as they race through destroyed and corrupted lands.
The smartphone game called “Saudi Girls Revolution” (SGR) was created by His Highness Prince Fahad Al-Saud, the grandson of the Saudi Arabia king’s brother. He’s got an occidental culture, studied at Stanford University, worked at Facebook on the launch of the Arabic version and has lived in Los Angeles and London and has founded several companies including NA3M Games, the company behind “Saudi Girls Revolution.”
Will a video game help the fight for more relaxed laws for all women living in the Arabic world? Saudi Arabian women have been fighting for their right to drive for decades, but now they can at least imagine being one of the 8 ladies of the game riding at full speed under dark clouds in a post-apocalyptic Kingdom through hostile landscapes, fighting against brutal tyrants with their abayas in the wind.
NCOM CONVENTION ROLLS INTO ATLANTIC CITY
The 31st annual NCOM Convention will be held Mother’s Day weekend, May 5-8, 2016 at Harrah’s Resort, located at 777 Harrah’s Blvd in Atlantic City, New Jersey, so reserve your room now for the special NCOM rate of $109 by calling (888) 516-2215.
The largest gathering of motorcycle rights activists in the world, this year’s NCOM Convention will draw over a thousand concerned bikers from across the country to “America’s Playground” to engage in serious discussions on topics of concern to all riders.
All motorcyclists were welcomed and encouraged to participate in the many meetings, seminars and group discussions that focused on legislative efforts and litigation techniques to protect our riders’ rights and preserve Freedom of the Road.
Topics will range from Anti-Profiling Laws to “SMRO Effectiveness,” with Special Meetings for Veterans Affairs, Women in Motorcycling, Clean & Sober Roundtable and World of Sport Bikes, as well as the Christian Unity Conference and Confederation of Clubs Patch Holders Meeting.
NCOM has successfully outreached to numerous segments of the motorcycling community in an effort to unite for our rights, both legal and legislatively, and has become a unifying voice amongst North America’s motorcycle rights organizations (MROs), motorcycle clubs, women riders, religious riding organizations, touring groups, trikers, sportbikers, and minority motorcyclists.
The National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM) is solely sponsored by the Aid to Injured Motorcyclists (A.I.M.) nationwide legal services program and serves as an umbrella organization for more than 2,000 NCOM Member clubs, organizations and associations worldwide, representing well over a quarter of a million politically active motorcyclists.
To pre-register for the 2016 NCOM Convention, contact the National Coalition of Motorcyclists at (800) 525-5355 or visit www.ON-A-BIKE.com.
QUOTABLE QUOTE: “There’s really no such thing as the ‘voiceless’. There are only the deliberately silenced or the preferably unheard.”
Suzanna Arundhati Roy (b. 24 Nov 1961, India) political activist and author