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Motorcycle Safety Funds in Danger

The Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) was alerted by our contacts in the U.S. Senate regarding a proposed change to the dedicated 405 Motorcycle Safety funds in the National Priority Safety Programs that is authorized through the Highway Bill. The proposed change to this program would add another criteria for states to qualify for motorcycle safety funds. In order to qualify, states have to meet two of the six current criteria. In addition to the current criteria, the additional qualifying area would add a category for states that have a mandatory helmet law for anyone under the age of 18. While meeting the under 18 helmet law is not mandatory to receive these funds, we at the MRF oppose any such change. We cannot allow any amount of erosion of our rights on this issue. The MRF is adamantly opposed to any federal law that would require the use of a helmet, apparel or conspicuity standard.

We are actively monitoring this situation to make sure that this staff discussion does not find its way into any draft highway bill legislation. The back-door attempt to include language that leverages a state without a helmet law for those under 18 as one of the minimum criteria may encourage some states to change their current laws to make it easier to qualify for these federal funds. In 1975, Congress enacted a law forcing all states to enact a mandatory helmet in order to receive any federal transportation funds. The MRF and state motorcycle rights organizations around this country fought tirelessly during this time for the law to be overturned. Congress flip-flopped on the helmet law by striking down the 1975 law, then reinstating it in 1991. The MRF and the motorcycle rights organizations were finally successful in 1995 by overturning the federal mandatory helmet law.

We at the MRF have already communicated with our contact that we would be adamantly opposed to any changes to the language. This potential change could be viewed as an attempt to blackmail states into changing their current laws as a way to additionally qualify for these funds. While there is not any official draft in circulation for the next highway bill reauthorization, we will continue to remain on guard against attempts to add or implement such changes.

The motorcycle safety funds were first authorized in 2005 through the highway reauthorization known as SAFETEA-LU. The federal government began a dedicated state grants program in an attempt to reduce the number of single and multi-vehicle crashes involving motorcyclists. The program has continued to be authorized in the federal highway bill legislation and is currently still active in the current iteration known as the FAST ACT of 2015 which is set to expire in September 2020. Last week, we reported that NHTSA had released the fiscal year 2020 state grant totals for each of the National Priority Safety Programs. The $4.2 million motorcycle safety grant program was divided between forty-three states and Puerto Rico. In fact, the motorcycle safety grant program only makes up 1.5% of the appropriation for this program. With over 8.5 million registered motorcycles on our nation’s roadways, the federal government only spends on average $0.49 per motorcycle.

We will keep you posted on this and other topics as lawmakers continue the process of drafting a new transportation and infrastructure package in 2020.

 


Motorcycle Fatalities Decline for the Third Year 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released the “Early Estimate of Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities in 2019,” where the preliminary numbers show that motorcycle fatalities decreased 1% from 2018 to 2019.  The early estimated from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) shows that 36,120 people died on our nation’s roadways in 2019.  Overall, this represents a 1.2% decrease from 2018, while Vehicle Miles Traveled (VMT) increased by 0.9% during this time. Fatalities decreased in most major traffic safety categories: Drivers (down 3%), Passengers (down 4%), Motorcyclists (down 1%), Pedestrians (down 2%), and Pedalcyclists (down 3%). You can download NHTSA’s full Early Estimate of Motor Vehicle Traffic Fatalities in 2019 here

“Safety is our top priority so this report that traffic fatalities appear to have decreased again for the third year is great news,” said U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine L. Chao.  The U.S. DOT and NHTSA remain committed to reducing motor vehicle fatalities.  In February 2020, NHTSA released over $562 million in grants for highway safety programs that were appropriated through the current Highway Authorization, known as the FAST ACT, to the Offices of Highway Safety in all fifty states and U.S. territories. 

“We know that most of the 36,560 roadway fatalities in 2018 related to behavioral issues such as speeding, alcohol and drug-impaired driving, distraction, motorcycle safety, and seat belt usage. The grants we’re announcing today will help our partners in state and local law enforcement and other transportation officials enforce their highway laws and educate the public so that our roads will be safer for everyone,” said NHTSA Acting Administrator James Owens. In the fiscal year 2020, NHTSA awarded $4.2 million in motorcycle safety grants to 43 states and one territory.  You can see the full break down of what your state was awarded here.  

The Motorcycle Riders Foundation is continuing to engage with Congress about the priorities of motorcyclists for the next Highway authorization.  The FAST Act is set to expire in 146 days, and as of today, neither chamber of Congress has drafted legislation for the next five-year authorization.  If you want to review any of our legislative priorities, you can read our 2020 legislative Agenda here (https://www.mrf.org/legislative-tools/). 

 


May is Motorcycle Safety & Awareness Month

Riders and Motorists Can Work Together to Save Lives

Washington, D.C. — In order to reduce motorcycle crashes and save more lives, the Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) wants to remind all road users that May is Motorcycle Safety and Awareness Month.

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), motorcyclists accounted for 14 percent of all traffic fatalities in 2018, while motorcycles make up just 3 percent of all registered vehicles in the United States.

In 2018, 4,985 motorcyclists were killed in motor vehicle crashes, which is a 4.7 percent decrease from 2017. The majority of these were not single-vehicle crashes but instead involved other vehicles on the road. More than 88,000 motorcyclists were injured in motor vehicle crashes.

MRF President Kirk “Hardtail” Willard had this to say, "Motorcyclists must learn through training and experience the best way to stay safe on a motorcycle. Avid motorcyclists are cognizant of the skills required to avoid crashing and will practice and train accordingly. And even though we hone keen awareness skills, riding safe also demands that others we share the road with remain constantly aware of motorcyclists, this is aided by constant messaging by our motorcyclists rights organizations and various governmental and public service agencies. May is traditionally the month many riders are hitting the road after winter and other vehicle drivers must pay attention, hence the importance of May is Motorcycle Awareness month."

With thousands of deaths each year, motorcyclists are overrepresented in crashes and fatalities.

“Even the smallest momentary lapse in awareness by a motorist can result in the death of an unseen motorcyclist. Misunderstanding, misjudging, or overlooking a motorcycle can cost someone their life,” said MRF Director of Motorcycle Safety Jay Jackson. “We hope that shedding light on the issue during the month of May will help both motorists and motorcyclists begin to understand the driving behaviors that can help keep all of us safe.”

On average most motorcyclists involved in fatal crashes collided with another motor vehicle. Because they have a smaller profile and have greater maneuverability than cars and trucks, motorcycles can be difficult to see or spot on the roadway, and motorists have difficulty judging their distance and speed.

Motorists making left turns at intersections are one of the most common causes of motorcycle crashes, due to motorists’ difficulty judging the distance and speed of motorcycles.

A motorcyclist’s “braking” is not always obvious to motorists. Motorcycles decelerate faster than vehicles, so motorcyclists will often downshift instead of applying the brake, especially when driving around a curve. This means the brake lights will not be engaged to signal motorists of deceleration or an upcoming stop.

Drivers -- please follow these safety tips to be more aware of motorcycles and to help keep all on our roadways safe:

  • Slow down, assess your surroundings, and don’t rush when crossing intersections, entering the road from a parking lot or driveway, or turning left. Always give yourself enough time to thoroughly check for motorcyclists.
  • When turning left, ensure there is enough time and space for the motorcyclist to clear the roadway before you initiate the left turn.
  • Don’t follow motorcyclists too closely and allow sufficient braking cushion between your vehicle and the motorcycle in front of you to give your vehicle enough room to come to a complete stop without a collision. Remember, a motorcyclist’s brake lights might not always be engaged when a motorcycle decelerates.
  • Always double-check your blind spots when changing lanes or starting to enter or exiting the roadways. Adjust your rear- and side-view mirrors and use them properly.

Remember: May is Motorcyclist Safety and Awareness Month - Motorcyclists and Motorists Can Work Together to Save Lives.

 


MRF Board of Directors Cancels

Bikers Inside the Beltway Lobby Day

April 27, 2020

After careful consideration, the Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) Board of Directors has decided to cancel the 11th Annual Michael “Boz” Kerr Bikers Inside the Beltway lobby day that was scheduled for May 19, 2020.  We want to take a moment to thank our event sponsor Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys, our SMRO partners, members, and all of our event attendees for their continued support of our mission on Capitol Hill.  While we may not be able to advocate our legislative priorities face-to-face on May 19th, we will be reaching out to you on how you can continue to engage with your elected representatives on the issues that are important to us. 

We want to assure you that we are still hard at work advocating on your behalf, and we hope that you can continue to answer our Calls to Action in the coming weeks. While the whole country faces major changes, we are working to adapt as an organization to continue to serve you. Let’s take this time to make sure we in the motorcyclists’ rights movement can continue to be effective in navigating our new political landscape and how we conduct our business. Every organization is currently faced with the cancellation of events, and the loss of fundraising opportunities. The MRF greatly appreciates your financial support and the fact that you entrust us to be good stewards of your investment in freedom. We strongly encourage you to contribute to your state motorcyclists’ rights organizations as well.

At this time, we have decided that we will not be ordering any event t-shirts for this year’s event. If you have already pre-ordered a shirt, please reach out to the office at mrfoffice@mrf.org or (202) 546-0983 if you wish for us to issue a refund.

If you need to cancel your hotel reservations, you may do so by contacting the hotel where you booked your accommodations. The hotel may reach out to you directly with cancelation information. You need to confirm that your hotel reservation is canceled 24-hours before the start of your booking to ensure that you are not charged for your stay.
Clarion Inn Falls Church-Arlington – (703) 532-9000
Governors House Inn - (703) 532-8900

We are disappointed that we will not be together on May 19th to fill the halls of Congress with bikers as we have done over the past ten years. However, we encourage you to join us and your fellow freedom fighters in Indianapolis on September 24-27th for the 36th Annual Meeting of the Minds Conference hosted by A.B.A.T.E. of Indiana. You can register for the conference and find more information by visiting www.mrf.org/events.

 

We are disappointed that we will not be together on May 19th to fill the halls of Congress with bikers as we have done over the past ten years. However, we encourage you to join us and your fellow freedom fighters in Indianapolis on September 24-27th for the 36th Annual Meeting of the Minds Conference hosted by A.B.A.T.E. of Indiana. You can register for the conference and find more information by visiting www.mrf.org/events.

 


Make sure motorcyclists are not forgotten

in any Infrastructure Package

Immediately after passing the 2.2 trillion-dollar stimulus, Congress began planning for a 4th COVID-19 related bill.  Initially, Nancy Pelosi indicated that infrastructure would be the main focus of the next large piece of legislation. However, Friday afternoon, she changed her tune and said that infrastructure would have to wait.  Congress now will attempt to pass another bill similar to the CARES Act with a focus on extending enhanced unemployment insurance and doubling forgivable loans administered by the Small Business Administration.
This shift in focus does not mean that infrastructure will be ignored. President Trump has publicly announced his preference for a massive infrastructure package. Additionally, with the current highway bill set to expire at the end of September, the timing to do something seems near.
It is still unclear what the size and scope of any infrastructure bill will end up being. There could be a focus strictly on "shovel ready projects," or it could incorporate the long-planned Highway Reauthorization. Regardless of what the final bill looks like, we as motorcyclists need to make our voices heard.
This simple call to action outlines four Highway Bill priorities that were approved in September at Meeting of the Minds for the 2020 Legislative Agenda. Let your voice be heard and make sure that in a rush to pass massive legislation, the priorities of motorcyclists are not forgotten.
 Take Action 

 


Take Action: Ask your U.S. Senator to cosponsor S. 5239 - the Motorcyclist Advisory Council Reauthorization.

Motorcyclist Advisory Council Reauthorization Act Introduced in the Senate

February 4, 2020

Yesterday, Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) introduced S. 3249, the Motorcyclist Advisory Council Reauthorization Act. The bipartisan legislation aims to define the membership seats of the Motorcyclist Advisory Council (MAC), ensure more national motorcycle organizations are represented and authorizes the council for six years.

The Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) would like to thank the U.S. Senate for joining their colleagues in the House of Representatives for continuing to support the issues that are important to the motorcyclists of this country. The legislation is the companion bill to H.R. 5234 introduced in late November in the House of Representatives by Reps. Mike Gallagher (WI-R), Chris Pappas (NH-D), Harley Rouda (CA-D), and Troy Balderson (OH-R).

“It is critical that motorcyclists be considered in infrastructure planning,” said MRF Vice President Jay Jackson. “The Motorcyclist Advisory Council provides this forum. The MRF is excited to have the opportunity to present to the MAC, the issues of concern from riders across the country.”

This legislation clarifies the membership of the MAC which now will include five highway engineering experts from state or local governments, one state or local traffic safety engineer who is a motorcyclist, one roadway safety data expert on crash testing and analysis, and one 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.

“Wisconsin has a rich history with motorcycles and we know it’s crucial to get input from the motorcycle community about how to keep roads safe and enjoyable for all,” said Sen. Johnson. “Government needs to be responsive, efficient and effective. Making sure motorcyclists have a voice and a seat at the table is beneficial for everyone.”

The MAC will advise the Secretary of Transportation, the Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration on transportation issues of concern to motorcyclists, including barrier design; road design, construction, and maintenance practices; and the architecture and implementation of intelligent transportation system technologies.

“There’s no better way to see all that Michigan has to offer than by riding a motorcycle,” said Senator Peters., co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Motorcycle Caucus. “As a motorcycle owner and rider, I’m proud to introduce bipartisan legislation to better give riders and manufacturers a voice on decisions impacting them.”

Yesterday, Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) introduced S. 3249, the Motorcyclist Advisory Council Reauthorization Act. The bipartisan legislation aims to define the membership seats of the Motorcyclist Advisory Council (MAC), ensure more national motorcycle organizations are represented and authorizes the council for six years.

The Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) would like to thank the U.S. Senate for joining their colleagues in the House of Representatives for continuing to support the issues that are important to the motorcyclists of this country. The legislation is the companion bill to H.R. 5234 introduced in late November in the House of Representatives by Reps. Mike Gallagher (WI-R), Chris Pappas (NH-D), Harley Rouda (CA-D), and Troy Balderson (OH-R).

“It is critical that motorcyclists be considered in infrastructure planning,” said MRF Vice President Jay Jackson. “The Motorcyclist Advisory Council provides this forum. The MRF is excited to have the opportunity to present to the MAC, the issues of concern from riders across the country.”

This legislation clarifies the membership of the MAC which now will include five highway engineering experts from state or local governments, one state or local traffic safety engineer who is a motorcyclist, one roadway safety data expert on crash testing and analysis, and one 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.

“Wisconsin has a rich history with motorcycles and we know it’s crucial to get input from the motorcycle community about how to keep roads safe and enjoyable for all,” said Sen. Johnson. “Government needs to be responsive, efficient and effective. Making sure motorcyclists have a voice and a seat at the table is beneficial for everyone.”

The MAC will advise the Secretary of Transportation, the Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration on transportation issues of concern to motorcyclists, including barrier design; road design, construction, and maintenance practices; and the architecture and implementation of intelligent transportation system technologies.

“There’s no better way to see all that Michigan has to offer than by riding a motorcycle,” said Senator Peters., co-chair of the bipartisan Senate Motorcycle Caucus. “As a motorcycle owner and rider, I’m proud to introduce bipartisan legislation to better give riders and manufacturers a voice on decisions impacting them.”

 


Tell Congress that targeting a motorcyclist because of their clothes, cut or motorcycle is discriminatory and needs public attention. Support H.Res. 255.

As we move into the second half of the 116th Congress, we still have more work to do to advance our 2020 legislative priorities.  With your help, we can make sure that Congress takes steps to help end the unfair profiling of motorcyclists around the country. The Motorcycle Riders Foundation is working with the State Motorcycle Rights Organizations (SMRO), the National Council of Clubs (NCOC), the Motorcycle Profiling Project (MPP) and the National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM) on the passage of H.Res. 255.

Let's keep the momentum going and ask the U.S. House of Representatives to join their colleagues in the U.S. Senate to pass H.Res. 255. If you have answered our previous calls to action over the past year on motorcyclist profiling, please make sure you click the take action button for our updated profiling engagement!  We currently have over 125 bipartisan cosponsors and we would like to increase that number to signal to Congress that this issue is still important to the bikers in America.  If your representative is already a cosponsor, the system will send them a thank you on your behalf which also encourages them to ask their colleagues in the House of Representatives to join them.

TAKE ACTION NOW:

Take Action


Motorcycle Riders Foundation's 2019 Year-End Report
2019 was a year of transition in Washington, D.C. Democrats took control of the House of Representatives, and the focus on the 2020 Presidential campaign intensified.

Regardless of the politics surrounding Washington, the Motorcycle Riders Foundation has been and will remain committed to protecting the rights of motorcyclists nationwide. Whether it be issues related to consumer protection at the fuel pump, autonomous vehicle technology, profiling, or the myriad of other bureaucratic rules and regulations, the MRF D.C. team is committed to fighting for your rights and interests on Capitol Hill.

Your support of the MRF enables us to face these challenges head-on and educate lawmakers about our priorities. Attached, you will find a message from our President, our legislative priorities over the past 12 months, as well as a recap of events held around the country. 2020 will again present the motorcycle community with many challenges and opportunities and we in D.C. are ready to continue the fight.

Thank you, and Happy New Year!

2019 Year-End Report

For Immediate Release

November 21, 2019

HOUSE INTRODUCES MOTORCYCLE ADVISORY COUNCIL REAUTHORIZATION ACT

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Today, Congressmen Mike Gallagher (R-WI) along with Reps. Chris Pappas (D-NH), Harley Rouda (D-CA), and Troy Balderson (R-OH) introduced bipartisan legislation, Motorcycle Advisory Council Reauthorization Act.  The bill reauthorizes the Motorcycle Advisory Council (MAC) for six years and ensures national motorcycle organizations regain seats on the council.

The Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF), along with our partners ABATE of Wisconsin, ABATE of Ohio, Harley-Davidson, and American Motorcyclist Association, have been hard at work over the past month ensuring the future MAC membership is representative of the riding community.  This legislation clarifies the membership of MAC which now will include five highway engineering experts from state or local governments, one state or local traffic safety engineer who is a motorcyclist, one roadway safety data expert on crash testing and analysis, and one 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.

“As the feds address the vast roadway infrastructure issues and emerging technologies surrounding vehicles and roads, there isn't a more appropriate time to re-establish the Motorcycle Advisory Council,” said Kirk “Hardtail” Willard, President of the Motorcycle Riders Foundation.  “It was originally and effectively designed to give motorcyclists a voice with regards to the unique challenges we face on two and three wheels when it comes to roadway design.”

The MRF is encouraged that this legislation will ensure that motorcyclists will continue to have an open dialogue with government officials about the unique characteristics and challenges that motorcyclists face when they are not adequately considered or accounted for as infrastructure programs are being discussed and implemented. We want to acknowledge and commend the relationships that our state motorcyclist rights organizations (SMROs), specifically ABATE of Wisconsin and ABATE of Ohio, established with their elected officials through attending events such as our annual lobby day, Bikers Inside the Beltway.  This event, along with active engagement with members of Congress in their home districts,  helps the MRF identify the champions of motorcycle issues and achieve our goals.

 “We are pleased that our elected representatives from the state of Wisconsin continue to lead the charge in advocating on behalf of the motorcyclists in the country,” said Steve Panten, Legislative Director for ABATE of Wisconsin, Inc. “I am encouraged that years of building relationships, both in our State and by coming to Washington, D.C., every year, continues to elevate our issues on Capitol Hill. We urge other SMRO’s to take the opportunity to do the same.”

The MAC, initially authorized in the SAFETEA-LU in 2005, allotted four of the ten members to consist of representatives from the motorcycling community from various state and federal motorcycle associations. In the FAST Act of 2015, Congress re-established the Motorcyclist Advisory Council in the Highway Bill to advise the Federal Highway Administration on “issues of concern to motorcyclists.” However, the MRF was disappointed the re-established MAC only included one seat for a representative of a national motorcycle organization.

The Motorcycle Advisory Council provides the Secretary of the Department of Transportation (DOT), the Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and the Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) with expert first-hand knowledge of motorcycle issues. “Motorcycle registration is at an all-time high, but this increasing popularity has brought with it increasing risks, such as fatal accidents,” said Rep. Gallagher. “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.”  The MAC serves as the only official forum for the motorcycle community to have an open dialogue with the federal government to discuss concerns with infrastructure design, issues with intelligent transportation systems, and other areas of safety affecting motorcycles on the road.

“With the number of motorcycles currently on the road, it is critical that the road designers and transportation engineers understand the way that motorcycles and motorcyclists interact with the roadways as well as other vehicles using those same roads,” said Ed Schetter, Executive Director for ABATE of Ohio, Inc.  “Motorcyclists need to be present to help recognize those needs and ensure that motorcycles maintain their place on the road and can be safely operated into a future where technology is creating more and more challenges.”

###


For Immediate Release

November 20, 2019

Senate Hearing - Highly Automated Vehicles: Federal Perspectives on the Deployment of Safety Technology

Today the U.S. Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation held a hearing entitled Highly Automated Vehicles: Federal Perspectives on the Deployment of Safety Technology.  This hearing comes on the heels of a National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) board meeting yesterday regarding the investigation of a March 2018 crash of an Uber Autonomous Vehicle (AV) that resulted in the death of a pedestrian in Tempe, Arizona.

The NTSB released some startling revelations in their investigation of the 2018 deadly crash. Among those that the software did not properly identify the victim as a pedestrian, it did not adequately assess safety risks and the operator of the vehicle was watching a TV show on her phone and was not watching the road. Additionally, the NTSB cited an “inadequate safety culture” at Uber.

The Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) applauds the NTSB and the U.S. Senate for holding public hearings on AV technology and safety concerns. The MRF is committed to fighting for the safety of motorcyclists as this new technology is deployed on our nation’s roadways. While we are hopeful that this technology can reduce accidents on our nation’s roads, we agree with the statement of Chairman Roger Wicker (R-MS) when he said of AV technology “I think a healthy degree of skepticism is a good thing.”

During today’s Senate hearing, it was especially important that two U.S. Senators specifically addressed the concerns of motorcyclists during the hearing. In a question directed to Joel Szabat, Acting Under Secretary of Transportation for Policy, U.S. Department of Transportation Senator John Thune (R-SD) asked, “In developing a regulatory framework for AVs can you speak to how other roadways users such as motorcycles are considered?” The Assistant Secretary responded by saying “Motorcyclists are well incorporated in the development of policy in the department.”

Senator Gary Peters (D-MI) echoed Senator Thune’s interest in motorcycles when he said, “I am avid motorcyclist. The number one reason for accidents is a car hitting a motorcyclist or a car pulling out in front of a motorcyclist.”

Other Senators include Sen. Cantwell (D-WA) raised concerns about the current deployment of AVs without minimum standards from the federal government, “We need some standards.” In response, Robert Sumwalt, Chairman of the NTSB agreed by saying that “Whatever is working now is not working as well as it should.” We at the MRF agree that minimum standards should be in place as this new technology becomes more and more prevalent on the roads we all share.

Chairman Sumwalt of the NTSB closed the hearing with this statement, “I think that AV technology holds great promise to improve safety, but it has to be done properly.” We at the MRF could not agree more.

MRF President Kirk “Hardtail” Willard stated, "As a motorcyclist it offends me when bureaucrats are discussing various inevitable, emerging vehicle and advanced roadway technologies they default to classifying us as vulnerable and in need some sort of protection.  I would rather and especially in the specific case of Autonomous Vehicles we be thoroughly considered and fully recognizable and therefore not needing extra protection.  As with anything affecting motorcyclists this is another example where the Motorcycle Riders Foundation will demand we remain a significant part of the strategy for roadway users."

You can read the opening statements or watch the hearing by clicking the link below:
Highly Automated Vehicles: Federal Perspectives on the Deployment of Safety Technology


RIDING FREE FROM DC:

Your Weekly Biker Bulletin from Inside the Beltway

Your Motorcycle Riders Foundation team in Washington, D.C. is pleased to provide our members with the latest information and updates on issues that impact the freedom and safety of American street motorcyclists. Count on your MRF to keep you informed about a range of matters that are critical to the advancement of motorcycling and its associated lifestyle. Published weekly when the U.S. Congress is in session.

Highway Bill Priorities and Strategy

The current Highway Bill, known as the FAST Act, expires in December of 2020. With that deadline fast approaching, the Motorcycle Riders Foundation used the recent Meeting of the Minds to establish a wish list for any reauthorization of surface transportation funding. 34 State Motorcycle Rights Organizations reviewed, debated and agreed upon a list of priorities for the D.C. team to focus on. Below is the official position of the MRF for any new legislation:

  •     Preserve the Motorcycle Education & Awareness Program Grant Funding (402 funds);
  •     Preserve the ban on federal funding for Motorcycle Only Checkpoints;
  •     Preserve the NHTSA Lobbying Ban and expand to other federal agencies;
  •     Preserve the Motorcycle Advisory Council (MAC) to advise the FHWA;
  •     Preserve motorcycle HOV lane access;
  •     Oppose any motorcycling related federal blackmails or federal sanctions;
  •     Monitor for any action that would negatively impact motorcycles, motorcycling, and motorcyclists;
  •     Advocate the integration of an updated federal definition of a motorcycle;
  •     Advocate a mandate that autonomous vehicles must detect and respond to motorcycles;
  •     Advocate for expanding opportunities to address motorcyclist profiling

We in D.C. have begun identifying our legislative champions and meeting with specific members of relevant committees to advocate for our priorities.  As always, we will rely on SMRO’s and their relationships with specific lawmakers to help press for these important provisions.

State News – Wisconsin passes autocycle legislation

Congratulations to ABATE of Wisconsin and their allies, including the St. Croix Valley Riders and numerous motorcycle clubs for passage of their autocycle bill in both chambers of the Wisconsin Legislature. This has been a long-time battle for the riders of Wisconsin, but their determination and perseverance has paid off. The state senate passed the bill 33-0 in October, and the state assembly passed the bill this week 95-0. It now just needs the signature of Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers to become law.

Below is a brief background on what the bill does.

This bill creates a definition of an autocycle, which is a three-wheeled motor vehicle with operation controls similar to an automobile.

Under current law, there are two types of motorcycles. A “Type 1 motorcycle" is a motor vehicle which has either two wheels in tandem and a seat for the operator or three wheels and unenclosed seating for the operator and passengers. A “Type 2 motorcycle" is a motor vehicle with at least three wheels and an enclosed space for the operator and passengers. This bill eliminates the definition for the Type 2 motorcycle and creates a definition for an autocycle. A “Type 1 autocycle" is defined as a motor vehicle, excluding a tractor, an all-terrain vehicle, or a utility terrain vehicle, that is designed and built to have a steering wheel, foot-operated pedals for

controlling acceleration and braking, and at least three wheels in contact with the ground. A “Type 2 autocycle” is a vehicle meeting the current definition of a Type 2 motorcycle.

Under current law, a motor vehicle may not be operated upon a highway in this state without a current, valid registration. Generally, the fee for registering an automobile with the Department of Transportation is $75 annually. The fee for registering a motorcycle is $23 biennially. Under this bill, the fee for registering an autocycle is $45 annually.

Under current law, no person may operate a motor vehicle upon a highway in this state unless the person possesses a valid operator's license. Additional endorsements are required for the operation of certain vehicles, including motorcycles. This bill classifies autocycles as “Class D" vehicles, which means they may be operated with the regular license issued by DOT without the need for additional endorsements.

Click here to see the full text of the bill

MRF News – November/December Issue of the American Biker Journal

If you are subscribed to receive your copy of the American Biker Journal via mail, your issue should be in your mailbox soon. We would like to remind anyone that you can switch your paper copy to electronic subscription by emailing the office at mrfoffice@mrf.org. In the meantime, you can read the electronic version below.

NovDec2019_Final_email.pdf

Editor’s Note: The next deadline for article submission is December 1, 2019 for the January/February 2020 issue. Do you have a seminar or lobby day coming up?  Be sure to let us know and we can share it with your fellow freedom fighters around the country. If you have an article or photos from your SMRO that you would like to see in the next issue, please email your submission to editor@mrf.org.

Standing Update:

We are currently at 118 cosponsors from 40 states and one territory for H. Res 255, the motorcycle profiling resolution. An additional 3 new cosponsors have joined since our last update. The map below shows which states have at least one lawmaker signed on as a cosponsor.   Is your state not filled in yet?  Check with the D.C.  team about how we can work together to secure cosponsors from your state.

Click HERE to see if your member has signed on to H. Res 255.

Rocky & Tiffany


RIDING FREE FROM DC:

Your Weekly Biker Bulletin from Inside the Beltway

Your Motorcycle Riders Foundation team in Washington, D.C. is pleased to provide our members with the latest information and updates on issues that impact the freedom and safety of American street motorcyclists. Count on your MRF to keep you informed about a range of matters that are critical to the advancement of motorcycling and its associated lifestyle. Published weekly when the U.S. Congress is in session.

Strange Times In Washington, D.C.

As we enter the month of November the news cycle in D.C. continues to rage. The Washington Nationals World Series victory this week was a nice distraction for a city that is on the verge of a historic month.

Two significant issues will face Congress in November; first the House of Representatives will formally begin an impeachment investigation of President Trump. This televised political event will surely consume most of the oxygen and stifle progress on other key legislative initiatives.

The second major issue is another showdown regarding the funding of the government for fiscal year 2020. Currently none of the 12 spending bills required to keep the government open have been enacted. A temporary stopgap funding bill was passed in September, allowing the government to stay open until November 21st. However, if another temporary bill is not passed before then a government shutdown is likely.

Regardless of the political storm surrounding the U.S. Capitol, we at the MRF will continue to “stick to motorcycles” working with our champions on both sides of the political aisle to advocate for the over 8.6 million motorcyclists in this country. As we tell every congressional office we meet with; our riders don’t vote Republican or vote Democrat they, “vote motorcycles.”

Stay tuned. It should be a wild ride…

MRF at the Mid-South M.I.L.E.

Over the weekend, the MRF joined motorcycle advocates in Shreveport, Lousiana to speak at the 28th Annual Mid-South M.I.L.E. (Motorcyclists Improving Legislative Effectiveness).  For those who may not now, the M.I.L.E. is a regional conference put on by the six states: Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma & Texas.  The conference kicked off Saturday morning with a general session that welcomed the attendees to the conference, and each state provided a legislative update of the past year's successes and lessons along with a national and international update.  After lunch, attendees headed to a jam-packed agenda of breakouts which focused on everything from the MRF’s federal update and how to be an effective lobbyist, Bart Cocquyt with M.A.G. Belgium gave an excellent European update, along with Share the Road, Accident Scene management and host of other fantastic presentations. While I typically do not get to see many presentations at MOTM, I was diligent student taking notes and asking questions during the European motorcycle legislative update.  As we all know, the things Europe are working on tend to find their way across the ocean in the coming years.  Here is a fun fact:  Did you know Europe is banning the sale of all combustion motors by the year 2030?  That means Europe will only allow the sale of electric motorcycles and vehicles in just 10 years.  We try to share F.E.M.A’s (Europe’s version of a National Motorcycle Rights Organization) updates in the American Biker Journal as space allows but I encourage you to go to their website www.fema-online.eu and subscribe to their updates.  The best advocate is an educated one.

The MRF would like to thank ABATE of Louisiana for their southern hospitality and we were excited to celebrate with the riders of Louisiana over their victory this year, becoming the 3rd state in the country to pass a law to address motorcycle profiling.  If you would like a representative of the MRF to speak at your conference, please reach out to the MRF staff about how we can present to your membership.

All Members Are Not Created Equal

We added 7 new cosponsors to H. Res 255, the motorcycle profiling resolution which brought our total to 115 cosponsors or 27% of the House of Representatives. While each lawmaker is entitled to just one vote as with any organization, some members of Congress carry more weight than others.

This week we were proud to add Congressman Scalise from Louisiana and Congresswoman Cheney from Wyoming to our resolution. Congressman Scalise is the House Republican Whip, making him #2 in House Republican Leadership. Congresswoman Cheney is Conference Chair making her #3 in House Republican Leadership.

Members of Congressional leadership often refrain from cosponsoring bills and resolutions so as not to step on the toes of their colleagues. Having these two influential members of the House Republican caucus join us is yet another sign that our message is gaining traction.

A special thanks to the folks in Louisiana who TIRELESSLY contacted Congressman Scalise’s office about this issue. We in D.C. had written Congressman Scalise off, but the perseverance of the folks in Louisiana proved that the best advocates for motorcyclists are motorcyclists. Thank you to all that have contacted their members of Congress about motorcycle issues!

The map below shows which states have at least one lawmaker signed on as a cosponsor.   Is your state not filled in yet?  Check with the D.C.  team about how we can work together to secure cosponsors from your state.

Click HERE to see if your member has signed on to H. Res 255.

Tiffany & Rocky


 

RIDING FREE FROM DC:

Your Weekly Biker Bulletin from Inside the Beltway

Your Motorcycle Riders Foundation team in Washington, D.C. is pleased to provide our members with the latest information and updates on issues that impact the freedom and safety of American street motorcyclists. Count on your MRF to keep you informed about a range of matters that are critical to the advancement of motorcycling and its associated lifestyle. Published weekly when the U.S. Congress is in session.

 

Motorcycle fatalities decline by 4.7% in 2018

Earlier this week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released the 2018 motor vehicle fatality report.  For the second year in a row, less people lost their lives on the roads across the country.  As you can see in the chart below, motorcycle fatalities declined in 4.7% from 2017 to 2018 while overall motor vehicle crashed were reduced by 2.4% while vehicle miles traveled (VMT) also increased.

Does that mean motorcyclists are doing better than the other motor vehicles on the road?  Unfortunately, we still represented 14% of traffic fatalities in 2018 according to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) data, “New vehicles are safer than older ones, and when crashes occur, more new vehicles are equipped with advanced technologies that prevent or reduce the severity of crashes,” NHTSA Acting Administrator James Owens said in the statement. 

You can read the full NHTSA 2018 Fatality Report, 2018 Crash Stats.pdf

MRF attends bicameral Autonomous Vehicle Legislation Meeting

During the August recess, the Motorcycle Riders Foundation partnered with Harley Davidson (H-D) and the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) to send a joint letter outlining the priorities of the motorcycle lobbying community for any future autonomous vehicle (AV) legislation to both the minority and majority staff of the House Energy and Commerce Committee and the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation.  This week, the MRF, H-D and the AMA was invited to meet to further discuss the concerns and priorities of motorcyclists for any AV legislation. As you may remember during the 115th Congress, the House and Senate took two different approaches writing legislation and neither of those bills were signed into law. While the House and Senate committees are in the infancy stages of writing legislation, we are encouraged by the bicameral effort on future legislation and remain optimistic that both chambers can introduce the same legislation. The AV working group of congressional staffers spearheading this effort do not have any real time line when we may see any draft legislation out of their committees as they are still bringing in the over 100 stakeholder groups that submitted their AV priorities at the end of summer.  As always, we will keep our ear to the ground and continue to engage the appropriate congressional staff as they continue through the process to draft this necessary and comprehensive legislation to help keep not only motorcyclists but all motorists safe on our roads.

You can read our specific recommendations from the August letter below:

Rulemaking – Set new standards specific to seeing, detecting and properly reacting to motorcycles;

Testing – Ensure motorcycles are part of all testing and development procedures;

Advisory committees – Public user advisory committees should include a representative from the motorcycle community and a motorcycle manufacturer;

Consumer education – Require a public, easily accessible and searchable database where consumers can look up important safety information such as the limitations and capabilities of different products offered by AV manufacturers or service providers, as well as clarifications for marketing terms such as auto pilot, super cruise, etc. For example, the database should inform consumers what each relevant automakers’ systems Auto Pilot can and cannot do in terms of the driving task;

Safety Evaluation Reports – AV manufacturers must be required to detail and make public how their vehicles identify motorcycles among other road users. Manufacturers must also include human error analysis in safety reports; and

Crash data/reporting – AV manufacturers must report incidents between AVs and motorcycles just as they would incidents between AVs and other road users. Manufacturers must also include human error analysis in crash data and reporting.

Southbound and Down to the 2019 Mid-South M.I.L.E. conference

I’m off to Shreveport, Louisiana for the 28th Annual Mid-South M.I.L.E. (Motorcyclists Improving Legislative Effectiveness) to speak to the attendees from Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, Missouri, Oklahoma and Texas.  If you were at MOTM 2019, you probably heard “Brick” Lindsey with ABATE of Louisiana plug that they were having bacon wrapped alligator at the event and I eagerly await to report back to you next week about my first alligator experience.

Standing Update:

We are currently at 108 cosponsors from 38 states and one territory for H. Res 255, the motorcycle profiling resolution. An additional 8 new cosponsors have joined since our last update including our first member from Virginia and Indiana. The map below shows which states have at least one lawmaker signed on as a cosponsor.   Is your state not filled in yet?  Check with the D.C.  team about how we can work together to secure cosponsors from your state.

Click HERE to see if your member has signed on to H. Res 255.

 

 

Ride Free,

Tiffany

 

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.
All Information contained in this release is copyrighted. Reproduction permitted with attribution. Motorcycle Riders Foundation. All rights reserved. Ride With The Leaders™ by joining the MRF at http://mrf.org or call (202) 546-0983
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RIDING FREE FROM DC:

Your Weekly Biker Bulletin from Inside the Beltway

Your Motorcycle Riders Foundation team in Washington, D.C. is pleased to provide our members with the latest information and updates on issues that impact the freedom and safety of American street motorcyclists. Count on your MRF to keep you informed about a range of matters that are critical to the advancement of motorcycling and its associated lifestyle. Published weekly when the U.S. Congress is in session.

Meeting of the Minds

Last week the 35th Annual Meeting of the Minds was held in Bloomington, Minnesota. The gathering of so many dedicated and selfless motorcycle advocates in one place was powerful. We in D.C. are continually talking with lawmakers about our membership and the riding community but being in the same room with the people we represent further fueled our passion for advocating on your behalf.

Two full days of meetings and panels covered a wide range of issues including collaboration between SMRO’s and clubs, lobbying tips and tricks, our health, being a better brother and sister, the MRF PAC and the establishment of the 2020 MRF legislative priorities.

On Saturday night, we heard from two guest speakers. First Rep. Peter Stauber from the 8th Congressional district of Minnesota spent 20 minutes discussing many of the issues we face at the federal level in D.C. Congressman Stauber is a member of the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee and pledged to work with the MRF to fight for our priorities in the upcoming transportation bill. Additionally, as a former law enforcement officer, he understood our concerns regarding motorcyclist profiling and was proud to be a cosponsor of H.Res. 255 since June. He offered to meet with the D.C. team in the coming weeks to follow up on our priorities.

Second, State Senator John Hoffman from the Minnesota State Senate addressed the group. He spoke about working with local motorcycle rights groups and the battles and victories that have been fought at the State Capitol in St. Paul.

Having both a federal and a state elected officials speak to us demonstrates that motorcycle rights are a battle fought on different fronts.  State legislators and federal lawmakers each play a different but useful role in the fight for motorcycle rights. We want to thank ABATE of Minnesota for arranging the guest speakers.

We want to recognize representatives from the American Motorcyclist Association and Harley Davidson for making the trip from D.C. to be a part of Meeting of the Minds. Collaboration between our organizations has been improving for the last few years, and we appreciate their willingness to visit with our members and continue working together on areas of common interest.

As always, the MRF board came to Minnesota a day early for a board meeting and overall review of the MRF as an organization. It goes without saying that these board members sacrifice their time, energy and money to sustain the MRF and the continued the fight for motorcyclist rights. Thank you to all the board members for their selfless efforts.  A special thanks to Fred Harrell, Director of Conferences & Events, for his work organizing the 35th Meeting of the Minds.

Finally, none of this would have been possible without ABATE of Minnesota.  Our friends in Minnesota spent countless hours of their own time volunteering to ensure this edition of Meeting of the Minds went off without a hitch. We are grateful for their efforts and for setting a high standard for the 36th edition of Meeting of the Minds in Indiana in 2020.  Be sure to mark your calendars to join us next year on September 24-27th.

Do Your Homework:

As an advocate for motorcyclist rights, every member of the Motorcycle Riders Foundation should know one simple number, the number of motorcycles registered in your state. Whether you are meeting with a lawmaker, legislative staff or just having a dialogue with a non-rider, the ability to drop that number into a conversation is a powerful tool.

Being able to quantify how many riders are in a given state demonstrates that motorcyclists are not some minor part of the transportation world but rather a substantial part of the fabric that makes up our state and local communities.

Some states provide even more in-depth statistics including total driver licenses with motorcycle endorsements and motorcycle registrations by county. We encourage you to do your homework and gather as much data as possible. You never know when having motorcycle statistics at your fingertips will come in handy!

Do you know how many motorcyclists are registered in your state? If not, click here to see the most recent statistics from the Federal Highway Administration 2016 report.

Standing Update:

We are currently at 91 cosponsors from 36 states and one territory for H. Res 255, the motorcycle profiling resolution. An additional 6 new cosponsors since our last update. The map below shows which states have at least one lawmaker signed on as a cosponsor.  Is your state not filled in yet?  Check with the D.C.  team about how we can work together to secure cosponsors from your state.

As we continue to move the needle here on Capitol Hill,  we ask that you stand by for any future Calls to Action to help ensure that we can secure the passage of this resolution.

 

Click HERE to see if your member has signed on to H. Res 255.

 

Rocky & Tiffany

The Motorcycle Riders Foundation


RIDING FREE FROM DC:

Your Weekly Biker Bulletin from Inside the Beltway

Your Motorcycle Riders Foundation team in Washington, D.C. is pleased to provide our members with the latest information and updates on issues that impact the freedom and safety of American street motorcyclists. Count on your MRF to keep you informed about a range of matters that are critical to the advancement of motorcycling and its associated lifestyle. Published weekly when the U.S. Congress is in session.

Motorcyclist Advisory Council:

In late 2015 Congress passed the Highway Bill known formally as Fixing American Surface Transportation Act or the FAST ACT. Included in the FAST Act was Section 1426: MOTORCYCLIST ADVISORY COUNCIL It read as follows:

The Secretary, acting through the Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration, shall appoint a Motorcyclist Advisory Council to coordinate with and advise the Administrator on infrastructure issues of concern to motorcyclists, including— (1) barrier design; (2) road design, construction, and maintenance practices; and (3) the architecture and implementation of intelligent transportation system technologies.

While we appreciate that Congress has directed the Secretary of Transportation to focus on issues of concern to motorcyclists, we have one fundamental problem with the current language, RIDERS SHOULD BE AT THE TABLE AND PART OF THE CONVERSATION.

For example, it’s obviously important to have people like road engineers discussing the needs of motorcycles and the science behind constructing a road. But doesn’t it make sense to have someone who has actually ridden a motorcycle be a part of a discussion on the same topic?

In an attempt to broaden the membership of the council we have asked lawmakers to add this simple line to the next Highway bill:

Membership of the Motorcyclist Advisory Council should consist of at least one representative from a state motorcycle rights organization and two representatives from different nationwide motorcycle rights organization.

We are encouraged that Congressman Troy Balderson of Ohio, a fellow rider, as well as Congressman Don Young of Alaska, have taken an interest in the topic. Both are members of the House Transportation Committee and will be in a position to advocate for the needed changes.

Meeting of the Minds

Next week is the 35th Annual Meeting of the Minds in Bloomington, Minnesota. As part of the weekend, the D.C. team will be putting on two separate presentations. First, as part of the general session, we will give a legislative update on a host of issues that we have been focused on during the last year. With the close of the 115th Congress in December and the start of the 116th Congress in January, it has been a busy few months. We will touch on not only our successes but where we see our legislative priorities headed in the near and long term.

Second, as part of a breakout session, we have a presentation on lobbying tips and tricks. After completing nearly 170 in-person meetings on motorcycle issues we have learned a few things we think will be valuable to MRF members. We hope that some simple ideas and strategies can pay dividends whether you are lobbying in your state capitol or here in Washington, D.C. Find the Meeting of the Minds Agenda here.

Finally, if you are in Bloomington, please come up and chat with either Tiffany or Rocky if you have questions about your Members of Congress. We have had meetings with at least one Congressman from 48 different states. We have a pretty good feel for each state’s congressional delegation and might have some state-specific ideas or thoughts that can help your state motorcycle rights organization maintain and build relationships with your federally elected officials.

Standing Update:

We are currently at 85 cosponsors from 36 states and one territory for H. Res 255, the motorcycle profiling resolution. This is an increase of 9 new cosponsors since last week. We also added our first lawmakers from Idaho, Kentucky, and Tennessee. The map below shows which states have at least one lawmaker signed on as a cosponsor.

Click HERE to see if your member has signed on to H. Res 255.

Your Team in D.C.  Tiffany & Rocky
The Motorcycle Riders Foundation

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