NCOM BIKER NEWSBYTES
Compiled & Edited by Bill Bish,
National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM)
BIPARTISAN HOUSE BILL WOULD REAUTHORIZE MOTORCYCLIST ADVISORY COUNCIL
“Motorcycles require specific-and in some cases different-requirements of roads, and we need an open dialogue between the motorcycle community, infrastructure experts, and the federal government to discuss these challenges,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI) upon sponsoring the bipartisan Motorcycle Advisory Council Reauthorization Act, H.R. 5234.
Rep. Gallagher, alongside Reps. Chris Pappas (D-NH), Troy Balderson (R-OH), and Harley Rouda (D-CA), introduced H.R. 5234 in the U.S. House of Representatives on November 21, 2019 to direct the U.S. Secretary of Transportation to reauthorize the Motorcyclist Advisory Council (MAC) at the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) for six years. The MAC, whose authorization under the FAST Act of 2015 expires along with surface transportation programs in FY2021, provides DOT with critical firsthand knowledge on infrastructure and road safety measures and serves as the only official forum for motorcyclists to discuss motorcycle issues with the federal government.
H.R. 5234, if enacted, would require the volunteer body to submit reports to DOT every two years. DOT then would have 60 days to review the council’s recommendations and submit a report to Congress.
The measure would also clarify the membership of MAC “to include 12 members, including 5 highway engineering experts from state or local governments, 1 state or local traffic safety engineer who is a motorcyclist, one roadway safety data expert on crash testing and analysis, and 1 representative from each of the following groups: a national association of State transportation officials, a national motorcyclist foundation, a national motorcyclist association, a national motorcycle manufacturing association, and a national safety organization.”
CONGRESS CONSIDERS CAPPING ETHANOL CONTENT OF U.S. FUEL SUPPLY
U.S. Senator Tom Udall (D-NM) and U.S. Representative Peter Welch (D-VT) introduced companion bills in the U.S. Senate and U.S. House of Representatives on November 14, 2019 “to reform the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS) by mitigating harmful environmental impacts of the corn ethanol mandate and advancing the next generation of biofuels that actually reduce greenhouse gas emissions,” according to a press release issued by Sen. Udall’s office.
The GREENER Fuels Act (Growing Renewable Energy through Existing and New Environmentally Responsible Fuels Act) would phase out the corn ethanol mandate and immediately reduce the amount of ethanol in fuel by as much as 1 billion gallons by capping the amount of ethanol that can be blended into conventional gasoline at 9.7 percent.
Such legislation is important to motorcycle riders, in particular, because none of the nation’s 22 million motorcycles and ATVs are certified by the EPA to operate on gasoline that contains more than 10% ethanol (E10), and using fuel containing greater than 10% ethanol can damage fuel systems and violate manufacturers’ warranties.
MOTORCYCLING GOOD FOR MIND AND BODY
In a fresh take on a previous UCLA study we reported on earlier this year, visordown.com reports that “A study conducted by the Institute of Neuroscience and Human Behavior (INHB) has concluded that motorcyclists are less stressed and more fulfilled than their four-wheeled counterparts,” adding that “The study originally set about trying to find out if bikers were constantly riding in fear of being involved in an accident, but inadvertently proved the opposite! The results center around a certain hormone called cortisol that is released in the brain when we become anxious. Scientists found that bikers would produce 28% less cortisol during testing than drivers on the same course.”
The study was conducted by the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at the University of California, Los Angeles, in a controlled manner, with 50 motorcyclists and 50 car drivers making their way around a closed course for 20-minutes. During this time, the team measured the user’s heart rate, cortisol, and adrenaline levels, as well as the user’s brain activity, and it’s here where the most interesting results came from:
“The results found that when riding, the subjects experienced increased sensory focus and resilience to distraction. Riding also produced an increase in adrenaline levels and heart rate, and a decrease in cortisol levels — the kind of results you often get after a light exercise session, which also is a stress reducer.”
Concluding that motorcycles are better for you physically, as well as mentally, visordown.com claims; “The news regarding the mental well-being of motorcyclists goes hand-in-hand with a study that found that riding a motorcycle can burn anywhere between 170-600 calories an hour. As much as some people can burn in an hour at the gym.”
NEW YORK POTHOLE MEASURE VETOED
Despite passing both chambers of the New York State legislature, including a unanimous 62-0 vote in the state Senate, Governor Andrew Cuomo (D) has vetoed a measure that would have provided strong incentives for more prompt repairs of road defects by expanding the state’s liability for damages suffered by road users due to roadway defects, if the state Department of Transportation was notified of the defect and failed to repair it.
Under current law, motorists who suffer damage due to defects on local roads may pursue damages against the locality at any time during the year so long as the municipality had advance notice of the defect, but those who suffer damages due to defects in state roads may pursue these damages against the state only if the incident occurred between May 15 and November 15. A.1235, sponsored by Assemblyman Thomas J. Abinanti (D- Westchester County), and S.5422, sponsored by state Sen. Timothy M. Kennedy (D-Buffalo), would have expanded state liability for potholes on state highways year-round.
Potholes and roadway defects can not only be dangerous to drivers but can prove deadly for motorcyclists, but Gov. Cuomo, who rides and has promoted state tourism aboard his Harley-Davidson, vetoed the legislation on November 25, 2019. Similar measures, endorsed by the Automobile Association of America and the state Trial Lawyers Association, were proposed in 2014, 2015-16 and 2017-18, but never made it out of committee.
ANOTHER STATE INSTITUTES THREE-WHEEL “AUTOCYCLE” RECLASSIFICATION
A new “Autocycle” classification will allow consumers to operate a Polaris Slingshot with a standard driver’s license in the state of Wisconsin. Residents of Wisconsin can now operate the three-wheeled Slingshot with a standard driver’s license, rather than the previously required motorcycle license or endorsement. The reclassification will take effect immediately.
With a steering wheel and side-by-side seating, state policymakers recognize Slingshot’s operator skills mirror those required for a valid state driver’s license rather than a motorcycle license and as such, the need for the unique Autocycle classification.
The Slingshot is now classified as an Autocycle in 44 states, including all states bordering Wisconsin. Three states classify the Slingshot as a motorcycle, which requires a motorcycle endorsement or license; Alaska, Massachusetts and New York.
MINNESOTA CITY SEEKS PUBLIC INPUT TO RIDE AN ATV ON CITY STREETS
The Superior, Minnesota city council is considering a referendum on ATV use, and is seeking public input to determine whether or not it should be legal for ATVs and side-by-sides in the city.
According to a report on SuperiorTelegram.com, a council member has “introduced a resolution that would place an advisory referendum on the April 7, 2020 ballot to gauge public sentiment for allowing ATVs and UTVs to use any city street except those deemed exempt because of state and local laws or safety concerns,” and may let voters decide if all city streets and alleys could be open to use by all-terrain and utility-task vehicles.
The Superior City Council wouldn’t be bound to act based on the outcome of the election, but if the measure is well-supported by the public, the councilman would introduce an ordinance to that effect.
NEW HAMPSHIRE RESISTS EXIT RENUMBERING
United States highways have been switching to one consistent exit numbering system over the years, and in most states exits now share their number with their closest mile marker, making it simpler for travelers to locate their position and estimate distances between where they are and where they’re going.
A few northeastern states have been slow to switch, however, and New Hampshire Governor Chris Sununu (R) believes that holding onto the old sequential exit numbers for the sake of tradition is more important than progress and consistency.
But the renumbering decision isn’t entirely up to the individual states, as the federal government has threatened to withhold federal highway funding from states that do not comply with the directive to reassign exit numbers by mileage.
On Twitter, Governor Sununu said, “Exit numbers are a point of pride for some of us in NH — and we shouldn’t let Washington bureaucrats threaten to take that away!”
Numbering exits by mileage is what the rest of the country does, and those few remaining states holding out should probably do the same for consistency for travelers everywhere, though admittedly, this has become less of an issue now that most vehicles, even motorcycles, have GPS capability and can make better decisions based on better information.
TASMANIA BANS THE WEARING OF “OUTLAW MOTORCYCLE GANG” INSIGNIAS
Laws banning the wearing of insignias of five “Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs (OMCG)” has gone into force in Tasmania (an island state of Australia), and their majority Liberal Government “makes no apologies for being tough on criminals and is delivering on our strong plan to keep Tasmania safer from organised crime.”
The legislation “applies to an organisation that displays prohibited insignias that causes the public to feel intimidated and threatened,” and their new laws relate to five OMCGs — Bandidos, Outlaws, Devils Henchmen, Black Uhlans and Rebels, which officials say “sends a clear message that crime gangs are not welcome in Tasmania.”
ROYALS POSE ON A MOTORCYCLE FOR THEIR CHRISTMAS CARD
The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton and Prince William, along with their three children, Prince George, Prince Louis and Princess Charlotte, casually posed on a motorcycle for their 2019 Christmas card, in stark contrast to last year’s more traditional family photo!
The Cambridge Household’s Holiday card features all five aboard a British-brand motorbike with a sidecar and the salutation; “Wishing you a very Happy Christmas and New Year”. Prince William, a longtime motorcycle aficionado, is second in line to the throne behind his father Prince Charles.
SAVE THE DATE – 2020 NCOM CONVENTION IN CIRCLE CITY
Mark your calendar for May 8-10, 2020 and plan on joining hundreds of fellow bikers’ rights activists at the 35th annual NCOM Convention in Indianapolis, Indiana, over Mother’s Day weekend. The first race ever held at the Circle City’s world-famous “Brickyard” was with motorcycles, and over a century later we’re still in it to win!
Today’s finest Freedom Fighters will enlighten attendees about the intricacies of the legislative process, lobbying techniques, organizational efforts, leadership principles, and share political insights to retain and regain Freedom of the Road.
Agenda items will cover legal and legislative issues of concern to all riders, 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.
The 2020 NCOM Convention will be held at the Marriott Indianapolis East (7202 East 21st Street) and all motorcyclists are welcome to attend and participate in the many meetings, seminars and group discussions.
Reserve your hotel room now for the special NCOM rate of $129 by calling (317) 352-9775. Registration fees for the NCOM Convention are $85 including the Silver Spoke Awards Banquet on Saturday night, or $50 for the Convention only. For more information, or to pre-register, call the National Coalition of Motorcyclists at (800) 525-5355 or visit www.ON-A-BIKE.com.
QUOTABLE QUOTE: “The future will soon be a thing of the past.”
~ George Carlin (1937-2008) comedian and social critic
ABOUT AIM / NCOM: The National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM) is a nationwide motorcyclists rights organization serving over 2,000 NCOM Member Groups throughout the United States, with all services fully-funded through Aid to Injured Motorcyclist (AIM) Attorneys available in each state who donate a portion of their legal fees from motorcycle accidents back into the NCOM Network of Biker Services (www.ON-A-BIKE.com / 800-ON-A-BIKE).