OFF THE WIRE
Article By: Rob Keller NATIONAL MOTORYCLE RIGHTS ISSUES YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT!
2011 started off the New Year with 24 countries' protesting everything .from oppression to demanding leaders to step down from government positions. Here in the US, we are also experiencing our share of protests lately. In Madison, Wisconsin, over 13,000 angry union supporters gathered to protest newly elected Governor Scott Walker's plan that would weaken unions by reducing their collective bargaining rights and make public workers pay more for health care. The Occupy Wall Street Protest that began in New York City has erupted in over 900 cities in Europe, Africa, Asia, and North America demanding "a true democracy."
You may ask what the hell this has to do with motorcycles. Well, to me it's simple. As motorcyclists, we are severely out numbered. Only about 3% of the population in the US ride motorcycles and support the industry as a whole. These numbers include off-road and street bikes. When you count the cars and trucks as we ride down the highway, these numbers are obvious. If you attend a rally, you can see that there is strength in numbers. If we all support each other, we can make a difference. We all have a common bond that goes beyond our two-wheel passion. We all feel that it is our God-given right to ride, but believe it or not, it is only a privilege.
In 1974, A.B.A.T.E. held their first helmet protest. Freedom riders only accounted for 1% of the riders at that time. Somehow they managed to get enough support to be effective in their battle with legislation to repeal the helmet law in several states over the years. Our battle today goes way beyond helmets. There are local and state governments working hard to pass noise legislations that will make it illegal to alter your exhaust from what the
factory installs. They also are working on legislation that will prevent you from altering any engine components from their stock parts. This means building a high performance engine will be against the law. Such restrictions will put many small shops and aftermarket manufacturers out of business. Think about how this could affect our economy.
On a national scale, we have some good news to report. Way back in 2008, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), passed a law that would insure that products sold for use by children would contain little or no lead so that in the event of ingestion, our children would not be poisoned. This is a good law except for the fact that there were no exemptions put in place for motorsports vehicles for kids. Supporters argued that while these motorsport products may contain lead, it is highly unlikely that infants or small children would break off and swallow the vehicles' parts. Bill HR 2715 breezed through both the House and Senate and President Obama signed it into law on August 121", just in time for the holiday season. I'm personally very happy on behalf of our children. I just hope that the retail stores that sold these machines have plenty tucked away so our kids can get back to riding ASAP. I have been watching my neighbor's young son riding the snot out of his battery operated dirt bike and his dad has to be spending a lot of cash on batteries.
A.B.A.T.E. of Michigan and other Motorcycle Rights Organizations (MRO) are asking all supporters of riders' rights to ride helmet-free and contact Michigan State Governor, Rick Snyder, to urge
him to push the Michigan House to act in favor of the helmet law repeal. MRO activists believe that Governor Snyder will recognize the financial benefits of a potential increase in motorcycle tourism as well as in the number of in-state endorsed riders should the helmet law be repealed. Governor Snyder can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
In Clark County, Nevada, 12 riders have filed a class action law suit against the county as well as five cities in the county regarding the enforcement of Nevada's mandatory helmet law. The suit states that law enforcement is issuing helmet law tickets with constitutionally insufficient probable cause, and are violating Fourth Amendment rights against unreasonable search and seizure. The suit alleges agents of the defendants are prone to dismissing helmet law tickets when brought to court. This denies complainants' 14th amendment rights to due process, which would otherwise allow direct challenge to the Nevada helmet law
We can easily get caught up in the world around us but that is no excuse for not protecting our rights as consumers. In this day and age, I don't personally know anyone that has the time or money to protest for any amount of time but I feel we can let our voices be heard loud and clear. Please take some time and check out your local and state's Web site and pay attention to what is going on. You can make a difference by contacting your legislators. Keep your like-minded friends informed because after alt, this is a True Democracy!