May 9, 2018

Motorcycle Riders Foundation Releases Statement on Road to Zero Report

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, the Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) released the following statementin response to a report issued by the Road to Zero Coalition which is managed by the National Safety Council. The report, A Road to Zero: A vision for achieving zero roadway deaths by 2050, was released in April and identifies policies and practices to achieve the very notable and worthy objective of attaining zero deaths in the United States in 30 years:

Motorcycling and the safety of riders who engage in this growing mode of transportation remains a key priority of the MRF, its Board of Directors and its network of 220,000 riders across the U.S. In fact, the MRF, either directly or through our member networks, have numerous initiatives geared towards rider safety touching on issues such as motorcycle awareness, rider education and training, impairment, as well as technological advancements for motorcycle and equipment manufacturers. Because the safety of the motorcycle community is so paramount to our organization, we commend the objective behind Road to Zero. As such, we have been present and an active participant in almost every Road to Zero Coalition meeting since the unveiling of the program in 2016. During these workshops we’ve offered the motorcyclist’s perspective on key issues areas, making recommendations and playing a proactive role in the dialogue.

Therefore, it is discouraging that the recently issued report reflects none of this input, instead emphasizing only one countermeasure in which to mitigate motorcycle fatalities. Consequently, the report fails to mention the presence and participation of our organization as well as other key motorcycle organizations, which collectively represent over half-a-million motorcyclists in the United States.

Within the report, the assessment on motorcycle fatalities again and again points to helmet laws as a proven countermeasure. However, there is the notable absence of mention of proactive measures, which prevent a collision from occurring at all. Reactive steps may or may not offer some level of injury mitigation only after a crash has already taken place. If the goal is to eliminate all traffic deaths by 2050, there should be an emphasis on crash prevention and not simply safer crashing. These potential steps can manifest in a variety of ways including initiatives on rider education and training for new and returning riders, motorcycle awareness education for other roadway users and a variety of others. In reviewing the report, the only proactive measures mentioned in regard to motorcycle fatalities are automatic emergency braking, self-balancing control mechanisms for motorcycles and a connected vehicle system. However, each of these presents its own set of concerns; a motorcycle coming to a halt could result in throwing an unprepared rider, the self-balancing technology is not yet available and there are numerous studies which indicate that motorcycles are not consistently identified by lane assist, collision warning, and emergency breaking systems as a part of a connected roadway system. While these are certainly areas that should be reviewed, discussed and improved, they are not yet tangible solutions and there is uncertainty that they may even come to fruition by 2050.

Instead, the MRF, despite not being recognized in the report, have communicated, collaborated and participated in the various meetings and workshops that have taken place over the last two years, highlighting and advocating for tangible and practical initiatives that can be deployed immediately to include proactive countermeasures to reduce or eliminate motorcycle fatalities.

The absence of any acknowledgement of these ideas and lack of recognition of participating motorcycle organizations that represent our nation’s riders have unfortunately contributed to a flawed report that is neither practical nor inclusive when it comes to motorcycle safety. If the objective of Road to Zero is to truly achieve zero roadway deaths by 2050, we encourage leadership behind the program to be inclusive of input and ideas from all roadway users and to consider discussing practical proactive measures for motorcyclists.


Fellow motorcyclists

As you may know, many of your friends and fellow riders will be in Washington, DC next week participating in the ONLY national motorcycle lobby day - BIKERS INSIDE THE BELTWAY. If you can't make it, you can still be a part of the action...

To rev up (pun intended) support for this year's event on May 15, we are asking you to send an email to your Senators and Representative as well as the President and Vice-President telling them WHY we are in town and WHAT we are asking.

The work is already done for you. Simply click on the link below where you will be routed to a pre-drafted email that will be automatically be emailed to your elected officials upon your approval. It takes 1 minute. Do your part! And please feel free to pass this along! Don't hesitate. This is our last week to spread the word....MOTORCYCLES ARE EVERYWHERE...even in our nation's Capital. :)

 Click HERE to tell them! 

Ride Free-

Your Friends at the Motorcycle Riders Foundation


April 6, 2018

Motorcycle Riders Foundation’s Kirk ‘Hardtail’ Willard
Recipient of Coveted Sturgis Freedom Fighter Award

WASHINGTON, DC – The Sturgis Motorcycle Museum Hall of Fame recently issued an announcement confirming the incoming class of the 2018 Hall of Fame-ers. Each year, the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame recognizes individuals or groups who have made a long-term, positive impact on the motorcycle community.  This year’s class is noteworthy and diverse featuring artisans and craftsmen, philanthropic organizations and several women; all who have made an impact in the world of motorcycling. However, this year, a special award category, designated as The Freedom Fighter Award, was identified. The recipient for 2018 is the Chairman of the Board of Directors and President of the Motorcycle Riders Foundation, Kirk “Hardtail” Willard.

Hardtail, as he is known in the motorcycle rights world, is spoken upon with the highest regard from riders representing all walks of life. From the aftermarket industry and original equipment manufacturers to the motorcycle clubs and state motorcycle rights’ organizations, he is known as a force to be reckoned with. Logging thousands upon thousands of miles on his motorcycles, his objectives have always stayed pure; to promote and preserve motorcycle riders’ freedoms and lifestyle. He has done just this not only locally in his home state of Wisconsin, but nationally and internationally through his work with the Motorcycle Riders Foundation.

A Lengthy List of Accomplishments

His name is synonymous with the Motorcycle Riders Foundation; an organization of motorcycle rights activists directly responsible for the historic repeal of the federal government funding incentive for states to require a helmet to ride a motorcycle. Though Hardtail himself worked to steer the MRF and its supporters in their efforts to ban National Highway Traffic Safety Administration employees to lobby state governments to implement universal protective gear laws.  He worked tirelessly throughout the years, refuting EPA’s “Color and Chrome” initiative which would only allow riders to make cosmetic changes to their bikes, but would affect their performance through emission control devices. Prior to his taking over as Chairman of the MRF Board of Directors, he helped voice support to establish (and eventually expand) the only national lobby and advocacy day for bikers in the nation’s Capital.

Known as “Bikers Inside the Beltway” Hardtail helped to augment this yearly gathering into a highly anticipated powerhouse of an event, attracting hundreds of bikers from across the country to Washington, D.C. to meet with their elected officials. In recent years, the event has expanded, bringing rider education and training tools directly to the Capitol for lawmakers and staff to experience as well as plans to collaborate with the House Motorcycle Caucus this year in an event to recognize May as Motorcycle Awareness Month.

................. In more recent years, Hardtail’s leadership and
...................................................................................................................... work on the federal highway transportation bill lead to provisions which ended all federal funding of motorcycle only checkpoints which had been used as a way to target those who ride under the guise of “compliance checks.” He was also one of the catalysts in resurrecting the Motorcyclist Advisory Council – a group of riders with a direct connection to the nation’s top highway safety professionals to advise them on issues of importance to motorcyclists. And under his direction in 2017, bipartisan and bicameral legislation was introduced, recognizing and condemning instances of motorcyclist profiling and encouraging states to take action.

Accolades Across Aisles

Those who know him often compare his leadership style to that of President Theodore Roosevelt’s mantra – to walk softly and carry a big stick. His tireless and relentless commitment to the motorcycle community has made an impression on his friends and colleagues including Dave Dwyer, who is a former Board Member of the Motorcycle Riders Foundation and active member of ABATE of Wisconsin; “I have traveled the country with Hardtail and I feel that there is nobody in the United States more deserving of inclusion in Sturgis Motorcycle Museum Freedom Fighters Hall of Fame than Kirk “Hardtail” Willard.”

And in  Willard’s home state, the Executive Director of ABATE of Wisconsin Dave Charlebois said, "Not only has Hardtail given a significant amount of time and effort to the motorcycle rights movement at the local, state, and national levels, he has inspired and mentored leaders for decades and has selflessly ensured we remain strong and vigilant. I can think of no one more deserving of inclusion to the Sturgis Freedom Fighters Hall of Fame." 

Even those not directly involved in the ....................
motorcycle rights world were aware of his affect
on the motorcycle community. Former Member of Congress Reid Ribble, who represented the 8th district of Wisconsin from 2011-2016 said, “No one could be surprised by the news that “Hardtail” has been selected for the Sturgis Freedom Fighter Award. He regularly visited me while I served in Congress and was among the most effective advocates for the motorcycling community that I ever worked with. He is a true champion of riders everywhere and this recognition is well deserved!”

Mr. Willard will be officially inducted into the Hall of Fame at the 78th Sturgis Rally set for August 3-12, 2018. A breakfast and ceremony in honor of the inductees will take place at 9am on Wednesday, August 9. Tickets are available online at https://www.sturgismuseum.com/ Hall-of-Fame-Banquet-Tickets or interested parties can be invited to sit at a table purchased by the Motorcycle Riders Foundation and ABATE of Wisconsin in honor of Willard’s induction. 

About Motorcycle Riders Foundation
The Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) provides leadership at the federal level for states’ motorcyclists’ rights organizations as well as motorcycle clubs and individual riders. The MRF is chiefly concerned with issues at the national and international levels that impact the freedom and safety of American street motorcyclists. The MRF is committed to being a national advocate for the advancement of motorcycling and its associated lifestyle and works in conjunction with its partners to help educate elected officials and policymakers in Washington and beyond.

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