|This week the Motorcycle Riders Foundation was notified by Emma Garvin, Executive Director of the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame, that the Motorcycle Riders Foundation will be inducted into the Sturgis Motorcycle Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2022 Inductees. The ceremony will take place in August during the Sturgis Motorcycle Rally.
While there are a significant number of individual members associated with the Motorcycle Riders Foundation that have been inducted into the Sturgis Hall of Fame, it is noteworthy that our organization as a whole will now be included.
The Motorcycle Riders Foundation would like to thank Gary Sellers and Jiggs Cressy along with all of you that sent in letters in support of our nomination.
|Happy New Year! As is the case every two years, 2022 is an election year for much of Congress. All 435 members of the U.S. House of Representatives, and 1/3 of the U.S. Senate are up for reelection in November. Add state and local elections to that and literally thousands of elections will take place this year.
What’s been interesting about this year’s congressional races is the number of lawmakers who are retiring, and not seeking reelection. While every year has a handful of retirements, 2022 might set a record! As of this week, 37 Representatives (26 Democrats and 11 Republicans) as well as 6 Senators (1 Democrat and 5 Republicans) have announced they will be stepping down at the end of the year.
The reasons for retirements vary, some are seeking higher office, others are fed up with Washington D.C. and others are simply avoiding potential election defeat. Regardless of the reason for these departures, it’s surprising that nearly 10% of lawmakers are headed for the exits.
There are two important things you as a Motorcycle Riders Foundation member should take away from these retirements. First, if your elected official is retiring, have they been supportive of MRF priorities in the past? In the final months of their time in D.C., many congressional offices will change their tune on issues and be more supportive of topics they avoided in the past. It doesn’t hurt to reach out again, and push for MRF priorities before the lawmakers are gone for good. Ask the MRF D.C. team if we can help!
Second, with so many vacancies around the country, it’s a great time to get to know new candidates. Getting in on the ground floor and building relationships early in the process is one of the best ways to impact change and support your fellow bikers. In 2020, bikers in Michigan developed an early relationship with a candidate for office months before the election. That candidate won and became a U.S. Representative! She still fondly remembers the support she received early on from riders in her district. So get involved early and introduce yourself to the new crop of leaders headed to D.C.
Below is the current list of lawmakers departing their current positions. This list will grow in the coming months, keep your eyes and ears opened and stay up to date on who represents you in D.C. Reach out to the MRF D.C. team if you have any questions about the changing make up of Congress.
After a 13-month delay and enactment of three separate extensions, Congress finally passed a surface transportation reauthorization bill. This bill, sometimes called the highway bill or the infrastructure bill, has been a hotly debated topic in D.C. for several years. Once signed by the President, the bill will reauthorize many highway programs, provide funding for road and bridge construction and replace the previous highway bill passed in 2015, known as the FAST Act.
Just a week ago, Congress gave itself a third extension running into December. Yet election victories by Republican candidates, especially a win by the GOP in the Virginia governor’s race, seems to have spooked Democrats, and motivated passage of a bill that has been awaiting a vote since the summer.
For the last two years, the House of Representatives and Senate have battled over transportation priorities and funding levels. In both 2020 and 2021, the House of Representatives passed versions of their highway bill, only to be rebuffed by the Senate. Under pressure from President Biden, the Senate finally acted, passing in August a $1.2 trillion infrastructure bill. This action by the Senate, effectively forced the House to accept the Senate version of the bill or continue to pass short term extensions of current law.
However, pressure from the left wing of the Democratic party delayed a vote on the Senate’s infrastructure bill until an unconnected piece of legislation, referred to as the “human infrastructure bill,” was agreed to. That bill, called “Build Back Better,” had an original price tag of $3.5 trillion and effectively held the infrastructure bill hostage. After months of debate, and Tuesday’s election results, House Democrats agreed to vote on a smaller Build Back Better bill later in the month, opening the door to a final vote on the infrastructure bill.
At 11:27pm Friday night, the House agreed to the Senate’s bill and passed a $1.2 trillion 5-year highway bill, known as the INVEST ACT. The final vote in the House was 228 to 206, with 13 Republicans voting in favor and 6 Democrats voting against.
While not a perfect bill, there are victories for bikers contained in the 2,740 pages of legislation.
First and foremost, the Motorcyclist Advisory Council (MAC) will be reestablished with this new law. The MAC is a forum, within the U.S. Department of Transportation, specifically focused on motorcycle issues. The council is required to provide biannual reports to Congress on three critical areas:
Importantly, the new MAC will have expanded membership of 13 members, including one designated member from a “National Motorcyclist Foundation.”
Second, grant money allocated to states through the Section 405 funds, specifically dedicated to motorcycle safety, will be increased with this new law. In 2021, approximately $4.2 million dollars was distributed to states for motorcycle safety programs. With this new law, close to $5.1 million dollars will be set aside for grants related to motorcycle safety programs in 2022.
Last year 45 states applied for and were given money for the education and implementation of motorcycle safety programs. The five-year length of this bill will see those funds continue to grow year over year, providing important resources to states for safety training.
Finally, the bill leaves unchanged hard-fought provisions from past highway bills. These include the ban on using federal funds to create motorcycle only check points and a prohibition on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) actively lobbying state governments on pending legislation.
It is unfortunate that it took 13 months from the original expiration date of September 30, 2020, to finally pass a new highway bill. This bill does not meet all the needs of bikers, but it does take some positive steps to ensure motorcyclists remain part of the transportation network. With your help, the Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) will continue to fight for motorcyclists’ priorities left unaddressed in this bill. Issues related to the profiling of bikers, autonomous vehicles and ethanol regulations are just a few of the areas that this bill falls short on. The MRF is committed to these priorities and remains the voice of the street rider in Washington, D.C.
On a nearly annual basis the media in this country is inspired to report stories about motorcycle fatalities on our nation’s roadways. Invariably, these stories paint motorcycle rider deaths as a product of irresponsible riders who live in states that have some level of helmet choice. Frequently they report statistics that prove their narrative but fail to paint a full and complete picture. The lens with which these stories are reported often takes the naïve view that crashes can be made “safer” if only bikers somehow followed government helmet mandates.
The only true solution to motorcycle safety and reducing fatalities are proactive measures, which prevent a collision from occurring at all, rather than reactive steps that may or may not offer some level of injury mitigation only after a crash has already taken place. Rider education, which prepares motorcyclists to interact with other roadway users by learning and practicing the skills necessary for hazard avoidance and developing a strategy to deal with real world traffic, is the primary component of a comprehensive motorcycle safety plan. Additionally, educating all motor vehicle operators to be alert and free of impairment as they share the road with others is critical in deterring crashes caused by inattention.
When coming across these stories keep in mind some facts that are omitted from their reports.
|Fact: Over the last decade motorcycle related deaths have varied between years but for the most part remain flat. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) data from 2019 shows 5,014 deaths, a decrease from the 2008 5,307 deaths NTSHA recorded. In that same time period registered motorcycles increased from 7.7 million in 2008 to 8.7 million ten years later. In other words, there are a million more bikes on the road and there were 300 less deaths.
Fact: Twenty-nine percent of motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes in 2017 were riding without proper licensure at the time of the collision. A valid motorcycle license includes a rider having a valid driver’s license with a motorcycle endorsement or possessing a motorcycle only license. Proper training and licensing are fundamental parts of motorcycle safety, taking unqualified riders off the road is a commonsense solution to lowering motorcycle fatalities.
Fact: The lack of a helmet mandate in the 31 states who have allowed freedom of choice does not prohibit someone from choosing to wear a helmet. In fact, a 2019 U.S. Department of Transportation audit showed that states without mandatory helmet laws still saw 56.5% of riders choose to wear a helmet.
Fact: A 2019 U.S. Department of Transportation Fatality Analysis Reporting System report showed that in crash study data, where helmet use was known, 36% of motorcyclists killed were not wearing a helmet. Conversely 61% of motorcycle fatalities involved a rider wearing a helmet. The remaining 3% had unknown usage. These numbers closely mirror NHTSA data on overall helmet usage which shows 64% of riders wearing helmets.
Fact: Despite the constant drum beat from safety advocates, the media and Washington D.C. bureaucrats about the ills of helmetless riders, state legislatures continue to trust the judgment of bikers. Just last year Missouri passed a modified helmet law allowing the choice to ride without a helmet to those who are qualified. In at least three other states, West Virginia, Maryland, and Nebraska there are active campaigns to change their helmet mandates and let those who ride decide.