NCOM BIKER NEWSBYTES
Compiled & Edited by Bill Bish,
National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM)
JUDGE DISMISSES COUNTY AS DEFENDANT IN TWIN PEAKS LAWSUIT
A federal judge has dismissed McLennan County as a defendant in a civil rights lawsuit filed by three bikers arrested after the 2015 Twin Peaks shootout, but ruled the plaintiffs can pursue claims against the city of Waco and seven individual defendants.
The lawsuit, filed by the three bikers who were never indicted in the deadly shootout with law enforcement, is one of about 20 pending Twin Peaks civil lawsuits involving about 130 bikers with claims of unlawful arrest and conspiracy.
The plaintiffs allege former McLennan County District Attorney Abel Reyna was the final policymaker for McLennan County regarding the events at Twin Peaks, but U.S. District Judge Alan Albright ruled that a county sheriff, not the district attorney, is the final policymaker.
The lawsuit alleges Reyna was the county’s final policymaker because he “was responsible for devising the overall prosecutorial goals and strategies” of the county on the day of the shootout that left nine bikers dead and 20 injured in a hail of police gunfire, but the judge ruled that “regardless of Reyna’s involvement in helping to decide whether the arrests should be made, he did not have authority to make municipal policy.”
The judge denied the city’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit. The order leaves claims pending against D.A. Reyna, as well as the former Waco police chief, assistant chief and various named officers.
More than 200 bikers were jailed on identical arrest warrant allegations. Only one case went to trial, which ended in a hung jury favoring acquittal and a mistrial. District Attorney Barry Johnson, Reyna’s successor, dismissed the remaining charges against the bikers.
According to a report by Tommy Witherspoon in Insane Throttle Biker News (www.harleyliberty.com), the lawsuits allege the defendants violated the bikers’ Fourth Amendment rights by obtaining arrest warrants based on a fill-in-the-name affidavit that lacked probable cause. They also allege defendants violated their 14th Amendment due process right to be free from unlawful arrest.
Insane Throttle was recently awarded the Silver Spoke Award for Media at the 2019 National Coalition of Motorcyclists’ NCOM Convention in Orlando, Florida.
PROPOSED IOWA ORDINANCE WOULD ALLOW ATVs ON COUNTY ROADS
A committee in Linn County, Iowa is working to pass a new ordinance that will allow ATVs to be driven on county roads, despite concerns about having off-road vehicles sharing the streets with regular vehicles.
County Supervisor Brent Oleson said a committee approached him about the ordinance, saying that “I’m all for not taking anything off the table, anything that gets people outdoors can only have positive benefits.”
But Sheriff Brian Gardner told TV9 that combining ATVs and regular vehicles on the same road is just too dangerous. “They’re off-road vehicles, and they’re designated as off-road vehicles for a reason.”
Oleson says they’re going to look at what works for ATV ordinances in other areas, and hopes to have something passed before spring.
Right now, unless a town or county passes an ordinance allowing it, ATVs can only be driven on one of Iowa’s eight riding parks or on private property. ATVs are also allowed to cross streets, with some restrictions.
VIRGINIA BECOMES 15TH STATE TO CREATE AN OFFICE OF OUTDOOR RECREATION
Virginia Governor Ralph Northam (D) has announced the creation of an Office of Outdoor Recreation to lead efforts to promote the outdoor recreation industry in Virginia and recruit new outdoor businesses to the Commonwealth.
The outdoor recreation industry contributes nearly $22 billion annually to the Virginia economy, and employs more than 197,000 Virginians. Virginia will be the 15th state in the nation to establish an office or task force dedicated to strengthening the outdoor industry, and the third on the East Coast.
“Every region of our Commonwealth is home to unique outdoor assets and recreation opportunities, which continue to earn national praise and are sought out by millions of travelers each year,” Gov. Northam said. “In establishing a statewide Office of Outdoor Recreation, we are taking significant steps to recognize the importance of this industry as a true driver of economic development in the Commonwealth, and demonstrate why Virginia is the natural fit for outdoor business. Outdoor recreation not only improves the growth potential of our communities, but it also aligns with our goals on land conservation, workforce development, and public health.”
The Office will lead an effort to grow the outdoor industry in Virginia through industry promotion, coordination, and recruitment.
NATIONWIDE MOTORCYCLE THEFTS DECREASING
While motorcycle theft has been a significant problem in the US, the latest National Insurance Crime Bureau report indicates that motorcycle thefts across the country went down in 2018, and in fact have been on a steady decline since 2016 after experiencing an uptick the previous two years.
A total of 41,674 motorcycles were reported stolen in 2018 compared with 44,268 reported stolen in 2017 — a decrease of six percent.
By manufacturer, Honda was the most stolen bike brand, followed by Yamaha, Suzuki, and Kawasaki. Harley-Davidson rounded out the top five.
Unsurprisingly, motorcycle thefts in the US are at their peak during the summer months, with August, July, and September, in that order, seeing the highest number of thefts, and with about half as many bikes stolen in February 2018.
The report also gives a state-by-state breakdown, and notes that thefts are more common in large metropolitan areas as well. California leads the country in motorcycle thefts, with 7,035 occurring in 2018, followed by Florida with 4,279 thefts reported, then Texas (3,073), New York (1,777) and South Carolina (1,743). By city, New York City led the way with 1,310, then Los Angeles with 628, Miami (595), Las Vegas (540), and San Diego fifth with 527
A total of 16,261 bikes were recovered from thieves in 2018, or about 44% of those stolen.
STUDY SHOWS MOTORCYCLES MOST LIKELY VEHICLE TYPE IN U.K. TO BE STOLEN
One in every 46 registered motorcycles in the United Kingdom (UK) was stolen last year, according to new figures gained by a Freedom of Information (FOI) request by the Motorcycle Action Group (MAG). In London, one in every 12 bikes was reported stolen in 2018.
While the countrywide figure actually signals a modest 3.98% improvement over 2017, the national average of one in 46 still means that motorcycles are seven times more likely to be stolen than any other road vehicle!
“For a biker, the theft of their bike is definitely not a victimless crime,” said Colin Brown, MAG’s Director of Campaigns & Political Engagement. “More so than for any other mode of transport, riders become emotionally attached to their bikes. For some, the loss of a bike is akin to the loss of a family member.”
With an average 500 bikes stolen a week in 2018 motorcycles remain the most commonly stolen vehicle in the UK, seven times more likely to be nicked than anything else, which is why security firms are coming up with ever-more sophisticated locks.
NEW HAMPSHIRE TO MODERNIZE DMV IN WAKE OF DEADLY JUNE CRASH
Following the deadly June 2019 crash that killed seven motorcyclists in New Hampshire, officials want to work with other states to prevent anything like this from happening ever again.
The truck driver currently facing seven charges of negligent homicide in those deaths — who had a Massachusetts-issued CDL — should not even have been driving, according to his combined driving record. The head of the Massachusetts DMV resigned and others at the agency were fired once this came to light.
Over the past few weeks, New Hampshire has also been conducting an internal review of its own DMV records and practices. On August 29, 2019, NH governor Chris Sununu gave a press conference with other top officials to share their findings. The results: nearly 4,000 drivers will have their licenses suspended following a review of over 13,000 out-of-state notices, as well as a backlog of 62 commercial license notices dating back to 2016.
One unintended and potentially good consequence of this terrible accident is that it’s led New Hampshire to modernize its DMV system and automate notices, so that paper backlogs like this can’t build up in the future. Additionally, the governor is now pushing the state legislature to allow the NH DMV to become part of a computerized state-to-state driver verification system using Real ID.
One of the biggest issues that the terrible crash brought to light is that truck driver Volodymyr Zhukovskyy had a number of driving offenses spread across multiple states — that obviously didn’t communicate effectively with one another. Creating processes that enhance communication of driving offenses across state lines seems like a logical step toward preventing catastrophes like this in the future.
EURO5 EMISSIONS RULES EXPECTED TO BRING TECH PROGRESS
The latest European emissions limits (Euro5) will be introduced from the start of next year on, and while many naysayers preach gloom about tightening emissions laws, others predict that they will spur development, creating bikes that are measurably better than their predecessors.
Euro5 is the fifth iteration of European emissions limits that have got steadily stricter since the original Euro1 came in 1999, and the newest limits represent an astounding improvement over the two decades since: compared to the current Euro4 limits, Euro5 levels are down by a third.
The big news is the introduction of a limit for ‘non- methane hydrocarbons’ (NMHC) — quite literally hydrocarbons that aren’t methane — which wasn’t measured before. NMHC makes up most of a bike’s HC emissions, so the 0.068g/km limit is a particular challenge. To reduce HC emissions in high-revving performance engines as well as at low revs, expect to see an explosion in the use of variable valve timing (VVT) as well as higher capacity engines to reduce reliance on higher revs; both of which will boost performance.
On the downside, as the bikes get more impressive, they’ll also be more complicated, making them more costly to produce, and making maintenance more expensive.
As before, Euro5’s introduction is staged. New models from January 1, 2020 must meet the limits but manufacturers have an extra 12 months to adapt existing designs.
Brexit won’t exclude the UK from compliance, as they’re already committed to remaining aligned with EU rules and other non-EU countries such as India and China are adopting similar standards.
FRENCH ROLL OUT ‘NOISE CAMERAS’
France has begun tackling loud motorcycle exhausts, by installing a ‘noise radar’ capable of identifying the offending vehicle, with the device linked to Police CCTV cameras in order to automatically issue fines.
In the UK, the Department for Transport has likewise announced that they will be trialing new ‘noise cameras’ in a bid to cut down on illegal exhausts.
QUOTABLE QUOTE: “Washington is a city surrounded on all four sides by reality.”
~ Florida Congressman Matt Gaetz
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).