NCOM BIKER NEWSBYTES Compiled & Edited by Bill Bish,
National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM)
ANTI-PROFILING BILL INTRODUCED IN CALIFORNIA
Legislation aimed to curb anti-biker profiling has been introduced in California. Citing anecdotal evidence that Golden State motorcyclists tend to get pulled over unjustly, Assemblyman Ken Cooley (D-Rancho Cordova) authored a bi-partisan bill that would have police officers undergo training emphasizing that profiling of motorcycle riders is prohibited.
The measure seeks “to ensure that anyone entering law enforcement in California knows the ground rules to apply the law fairly without regard for irrelevant factors of, ‘I’m on a bike’ or they’re dressed a certain way,” Cooley said, adding that “it is an important issue of people being secure in their persons and the administration of traffic laws.”
Assembly Bill 334 would add Section 13519.17 to the Penal Code, relating to the profiling of motorcycle riders: “This bill would require the Commission on Peace Officer Standards And Training to ensure that the profiling of motorcycle riders is addressed in the course of basic law enforcement training and offered to law enforcement officers in conjunction with existing training regarding profiling,” according to the Legislative Counsel’s Digest.
Assembly Bill 334 would also require law enforcement agencies to create policies barring discrimination against riders.
NEW MEXICO HELMET LAW OPPOSED
Despite the fact that helmet legislation has only recently been introduced in New Mexico, and not passed as yet by the state legislature nor signed into law, “I have received two complaints that in the last few days riders have been pulled over for no helmet use by city police in Albuquerque and have been given a verbal warning,” reports Annette Torrez, chairperson for the New Mexico Motorcycle Rights Organization (NMMRO) and member of the National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM) board of directors.
“There is NO Mandatory helmet law in NM for any one over age 18, you can not be pulled over for the sole reason you are not wearing a helmet. This is profiling of motorcyclists,” added Torrez, who further suggests that; “The only way to address this is, if you get pulled over please get the officer name, badge number and car number and notify NMMRO (www.thenmmro.org).”
In the meantime, the national office of the U.S. Defenders (www.usdefender.net) has issued a nationwide CALL TO ACTION to oppose the two current helmet bills which were introduced into the 2015 legislature; Senate Bill 327 Requiring the use of helmets for all motorcycle operator and passengers, and Senate Bill 308 creating a distinctive motorcycle validation sticker ($692) allowing qualified operators and passengers to refrain from wearing a safety helmet.
“We must unite and fight this or by this summer it could be mandatory for every biker to wear a helmet in New Mexico,” according to the US Defenders’ CTA, which goes on to state; “We were told that the Centers for Disease Control are following this bill in New Mexico as a pilot program if it passes for other states in the future.”
TEXAS LEGISLATION WOULD ALLOW RIDERS TO LANE SPLIT IF HELMETED
One of the latest proposals by some Texas lawmakers to help alleviate traffic congestion is to legalize lane splitting. Lane splitting (or lane sharing, or “filtering”) allows motorcyclists to pass vehicles by riding in-between lanes of traffic.
State Senator Kirk Watson and State Representative Sergio Muñoz Jr. have both filed bills to legalize the practice. According to House Bill 813, introduced by Rep. Muñoz (D-Palmview), motorcycle riders would be allowed to ride between lanes of traffic moving in the same direction, if traffic is traveling 20 mph or slower, and if the motorcyclist is not traveling more than 5 mph faster than other traffic. Lane splitting would be prohibited in school zones and in areas where the posted speed limit is 20 mph or less. However, HB 813 would also require that riders and passengers must wear helmets.
Senate Bill 442, introduced by Sen. Watson (D-Austin), does not include the helmet provision, but lane splitting would be restricted to controlled-access highways.
“Filtering” is common in Europe and Asia to alleviate congestion in urban areas, but in the U.S., only California allows the maneuver.
ILLINOIS MEASURE WOULD ADD MOTORCYCLE SAFETY TO DRIVER’S ED
An Illinois lawmaker wants driver education teachers to warn beginner motorists to be on the lookout for motorcycles by incorporating motorcycle safety as a formal part of driver’s education courses.
The proposal, introduced February 17, 2015 by Representative Tom Bennett (R-Gibson City), would amend the driver’s education act in the Illinois School Code to require that all behind the wheel instruction include lessons on motorcycle safety and awareness “to ensure students understand their surroundings when operating a motor vehicle.”
Rep. Bennett says the concern was raised by constituents in his central Illinois district. Bennett says he purposely kept the language in the proposal general to give schools flexibility.
INDIANA SCOOTER RIDERS FACE NEW REGULATIONS
Indiana officials are warning motor scooter drivers that starting January 1 they’ll need license plates on those bikes. Legislators have approved Indiana’s first license requirements for scooters, and under the new law drivers of scooters with engines of 50 cubic centimeters or less will need to buy license plates and pass a Bureau of Motor Vehicles test involving road signals and signs. Operators of scooters with larger engines will be required to follow motorcycle requirements, including holding a valid motorcycle license or learner’s permit.
Evansville police officials told a legislative committee that scooters had often been involved in accidents and used in crimes such as robberies, but that the owners couldn’t be found because they lacked any registration.
The new law doesn’t require insurance for drivers of the smaller scooters, and the registration will cost $26.35, plus a $10 excise tax.
Law sponsor Representative Dave Wolkins (R-Winona Lake) said not requiring a driver’s license for scooter operators was important because he felt it was necessary that those with drunken driving convictions still have a way to get to work.
ARIZONA MAY DUMP HANDLE BAR HEIGHT LAW
Arizona has a bill running to eliminate their handle bar height law completely, and motorcycle organizations are asking riders from neighboring states and those who visit the Grand Canyon State to contact Arizona legislators to support House Bill 2345, which recently breezed through the House rules committee. Introduced by Reps Karen Fann (R-Prescott) and Chad Campbell (D-Phoenix), HB-2345 would amend ARS 28-964 to remove the restriction which specifies that a person cannot operate a motorcycle, all-terrain vehicle or motor driven cycle equipped with handlebars positioned so the operator’s hands are above their shoulders when the operator is sitting and their hands are on the handlebar grips. The bi-partisan measure would also eliminate the requirement for motorcycles to be equipped with handrails for passengers.
In addition, Arizona bikers are fighting a similar “pay-to-play” bill as in New Mexico, as House Bill 2607 seeks to require use of a helmet for all motorcyclists unless the rider pays a fee for exemption (amount to be determined), or face a $500 fine for non-compliance.
U.S. MOTORCYCLE SALES CONTINUE UPWARD TREND
The Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) reports motorcycle sales increased 3.8% for 2014. A total of 483,526 motorcycles were sold during the calendar year, an increase of 17,743 units over 2013. Off-Highway motorcycles registered the highest percentage year-over-year growth at 10.9%, with the On-Highway and Dual segments tallying 3.0 and 3.6% respectively. Scooter sales were the only two-wheeled segment to decline last year, down 3.5%. Meanwhile, ATV sales showed a steady 0.5% rate of growth.
The 2014 motorcycle sales total marks the fourth consecutive year of modest growth since the market bottomed out in 2010 at 439,678 units sold. Annual motorcycles sales have since increased by 440,899 (2011), 452,386 (2012) and 465,783 (2013) to its current 483,526 total. This gradual recovery follows the dramatic decline of the motorcycle market during the recession, when annual motorcycle sales plummeted from 879,910 in 2008 to 520,502 in 2009.
LANE “FILTERING” RIDES INTO AUSTRALIA
New rules have come into effect for motorcycle riders in Queensland, Australia as of 1 February 2015, including safe lane filtering. "Lane filtering can be a complex manoeuvre requiring plenty of on-road experience to be done safely, so only fully licensed riders are allowed to lane filter," Department of Transport and Main Roads (DTMR) says on its website, noting heavy penalties for riders who don’t follow the rules.
DTMR said motorcycle riders who hold an open licence for riding a motorcycle may lane filter at speeds not greater than 30km/h between stationary or slow-moving vehicles travelling in the same direction as them, provided it is safe to do so.
New rules also allow riders to ride on road shoulders and in emergency stopping lanes.
QUOTABLE QUOTE: "Helping each other out - that's America."
~ former Navy SEAL Chris Kyle (1974-2013), author of "American Sniper"