NCOM BIKER NEWSBYTES
THE AIM/NCOM MOTORCYCLE E-NEWS SERVICE is brought to you by Aid to Injured Motorcyclists (A.I.M.) and the National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM), and is sponsored by the Law Offices of Richard M. Lester. If you’ve been involved in any kind of accident, call us at 1-(800) ON-A-BIKE or visit www.ON-A-BIKE.com.
NCOM BIKER NEWSBYTES
Compiled & Edited by Bill Bish,
National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM)
NCOM CONVENTION IN “CIRCLE CITY” ON THE FAST TRACK
The 35th annual NCOM Convention in Indianapolis is in the home stretch, so plan now to be a part of one of the largest gathering of motorcycle rights activists in the world. This year’s NCOM Convention, to be held Mother’s Day weekend, May 8-9, 2020 at the Marriott Indianapolis East (7202 East 21st Street) will draw hundreds of concerned motorcyclists from across America to “Circle City” to address topics of concern to all riders.
Known worldwide for its “Indy 500”, it was motorcycles that first lapped the Brickyard’s banked oval track in 1909, and over a century later bikers are still racing toward the checkered flag of victory.
Racing is a team sport, and everyone’s contributions facilitate the win, so ALL motorcyclists are welcome to attend and participate in the many meetings, seminars and group discussions.
Many of today’s finest Freedom Fighters will be on hand to promote strength through unity, working together throughout the legislative process, teach organizational and leadership principles, and share lobbying techniques and political insights to retain and regain Freedom of the Road.
Agenda items will cover legal and legislative issues of concern to all riders, including “Protect Your Rights/Probable Cause” and “Vulnerable Road Users Legislation To Protect Our Riders” seminars, with Special Meetings for Veterans Affairs, Women in Motorcycling, Clean & Sober Roundtable and World of Sport Bikes, as well as the Christian Unity Conference and Confederation of Clubs Patch Holders Meeting. Renown EMT Dick “Slider” Gilmore will present his “Save a Biker’s Life” seminar on The Golden Hour, a must-see tutorial.
Registration fees for the NCOM Convention are $85 including the Silver Spoke Awards Banquet on Saturday night, or $50 for the Convention only. For more information, or to pre-register, call the National Coalition of Motorcyclists at (800) 525-5355 or visit www.ON-A-BIKE.com.
Claim your spot in the starting lineup and reserve your hotel room now for the special NCOM rate of $129 per night by calling (317) 352-9775, and we’ll see you at the finish line!
In the meantime, the National Coalition of Motorcyclists is requesting that MROs, motorcycle clubs, and riding associations submit the names of those members and supporters who have passed away over the past year, since May 2019, so that we may honor their memories with the traditional “Ringing of the Bell” tribute to fallen riders during the opening ceremonies. Dedications should be e-mailed in advance to Bill Bish at NCOMBish@aol.com, or can be hand-delivered at the Convention to “Doc” Reichenbach, NCOM Chairman of the Board.
STATES SEEK TO LEGALIZE LANE SPLITTING
As of January 2020, California is the only U.S. state that formally authorizes motorcyclists to lane split. Utah passed a law to allow riders to lane filter in 2019, while Hawaii made shoulder surfing legal in rush hour traffic situations in 2018. Now, Arizona and Virginia could soon join California on the elite list of lane-splitting-friendly states.
Proposals to legalize lane splitting both in Arizona and Virginia were recently submitted to those states’ legislative bodies. The Arizona bill, House Bill 2285 introduced in January by Representative and Arizona House Transportation Committee chairman Noel Campbell, a former Navy and U.S. Forest Service pilot and a motorcycle tour guide, would allow riders to lane split on roads of more than one lane in the same direction with a speed limit of 45 mph or less and when traffic is cruising at no more than 15 mph.
In Virginia, Rep. Tony Wilt proposed a similar measure, House Bill 1236, to allow motorcyclists to lane split on roads of more than one lane in the same direction but traffic speed would have to be under 10 mph and motorcycles would be limited to a maximum speed of 20 mph.
Over the past few years, a slew of bills have been introduced to legalize lane splitting and filtering, including;
Connecticut, where lawmakers are actively considering Senate Bill 629 to make both lane splitting and filtering explicitly legal.
In Oregon, House Bill 2314 was referred to the Speaker’s desk. If approved, motorcycles could travel between cars on roadways where the speed limit is 50mph or greater, and traffic is moving at 10mph or slower. (Unfortunately this bill died in committee at the end of the 2019 legislative session).
Washington state reintroduced Senate Bill 5254 on January 13, 2020 and it’s currently in committee.
In Canada, the Toronto city council is considering Agenda Item MM43.53 to allow filtering throughout the city, as well as allowing motorcycles to “use reserved lanes” in some specific areas of the city.
DISTRACTED DRIVING TARGETED BY LAWMAKERS
Nearly four in 10 drivers admit to looking at their phones while driving, according to a AAA survey, and distracted driving has become a leading cause of highway accidents and fatalities nationwide. Nearly every state has enacted laws against texting while driving, while many others have banned handheld wireless communications devices altogether, such as a new law that recently went into effect in Florida.
Perhaps 2020 will be a major year for distracted driver bills sweeping through state legislatures, as Utah (H.B.101) and Colorado (S.B.65) have already introduced measures this year to require drivers to use hands-free devices, and motorcycle groups in those states say it’s about time!
On Tuesday, February 11, the Colorado Senate Transportation and Energy Committee passed Senate Bill 65 unanimously, on a 5-to-nothing vote.
Lawmakers in Ohio recently extended the definition of “distracted” to include “any activity that is not necessary for the vehicle’s operation and that impairs the driver’s ability to drive safely,” including eating, handing things, or even changing the radio station could all result in a ticket.
Maryland has taken a different approach, introducing H.B.721/S.B.512 “Prohibiting an individual from causing the serious physical injury or death of a vulnerable individual as a result of the individual operating a vehicle in a careless or distracted manner.”
POW/MIA FLAG LEGISLATION INTRODUCED IN KENTUCKY
Last November we reported in NCOM Biker Newsbytes that President Donald Trump had signed the National POW/MIA Flag Act into law; a bipartisan bill to require the POW/MIA Flag be displayed whenever the American flag is displayed on prominent federal properties to honor the more than 82,000 Americans who are listed as Prisoners of War (POW), Missing in Action (MIA), or otherwise unaccounted for from our nation’s past wars and conflicts.
While the federal legislation appropriately regards federal buildings and memorials, Kentucky Motorcycle Association (KMA/KBA.com) member Danny “Greasy” Belcher, director of Task Force Omega of KY, has taken steps to ensure that the flag will fly atop State properties as well.
Belcher lobbied Kentucky legislators to introduce Senate Bill 104, “to designate the POW/MIA flag as the state’s symbol of concern and commitment to achieving the fullest possible accounting of United States military personnel who, having been prisoners of war or missing in action, still remain unaccounted for or those who in the future may become prisoners of war, missing in action, or otherwise unaccounted for as a result of hostile action; specify locations, dates, and circumstances under which the flag shall be displayed.”
The recognizable black and white POW-MIA flag you see flying all across the country has a special meaning to Kentuckians, as it was created by Bowling Green resident Mary Hoff in 1970 after her husband’s plane was shot down over Laos during the Vietnam War.
Call (800) 372-7181 and ask Kentucky Senators to co-sponsor S.B.104; “It is the least we can do for our POW/MIAs,” says Greasy.
CONGRESSIONAL LEGISLATION TO INCREASE FUNDING FOR RECREATIONAL TRAILS
On February 6, 2020 a group of Representatives introduced bipartisan legislation to increase funding for the Recreational Trails Program (RTP). introduced in House, H.R. 5797, the “Recreational Trails Full Funding Act of 2020”, would more than double financial support for the RTP .
Since 1991, RTP has provided funding to states to develop and maintain outdoor recreational trails, allowing millions of Americans and their families to enjoy activities such as off-roading, snowmobiling, hiking, bicycling, and cross-country skiing, “creating countless opportunities for motorized recreation and human-powered experiences,” says Rep. John Curtis (R-UT) a sponsor of the measure.
The bill will more than double RTP funding to at least $250 million by requiring the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to provide a current estimate of the amount of gas taxes paid by non-highway recreational users. The program is modeled after the Highway Trust Fund and is funded through taxes paid on gasoline used to fuel snowmobiles, ATVs, and other recreational vehicles that do not use highways. The program is currently funded at $84 million annually, which is substantially less than is collected in taxes on fuel used by these vehicles.
AUTOCYCLES’ DEFY FEDERAL DEFINITION
With the advent of “three-wheel light-duty vehicles, also called ‘Autocycles’, as a method of passenger transportation,” states across the country have attempted to legislate their licensure and operation, as well as establish a definition of the vehicle and registration protocol, which has prompted concern “that a patchwork of laws and inconsistent regulations now exists, absent a Federal standard for autocycles, thereby causing confusion and hindering the growth of this emerging industry.”
Although 38 states have established new regulations and definitions for autocycles, under Federal regulations they are currently classified as motorcycles though they have different physical and operational characteristics than traditional automobiles and motorcycles.
Last year, the U.S. Congress directed the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to conduct research on the appropriate safety standards and existing regulations that apply to autocycles, and in a January 2020 “Report to Congress on the Federal and State Regulatory Status of Autocycles”, NHTSA determined that because they do not use the term “autocycle” in its regulations, it currently “regulates all autocycles the same as conventional motorcycles,” which “are subject to the same minimum Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) that are applicable to motorcycles, rather than those FMVSS that are applicable to light vehicles (e.g., passenger cars and light trucks),” such as seat belts, air bags, etc.
Regarding the inconsistency of state laws affecting autocycles; “NHTSA does not regulate vehicle usage or operation on roads as this takes place at the State and local level. Vehicle registration, driver licensing, and rider equipment regulations such as whether helmets are required for motorcycle operation are among the areas regulated directly by individual States.”
Therefore, any regulatory uniformity from the federal level doesn’t seem to be forthcoming any time soon, leaving individual states to determine whether autocycles will be registered as motorcycles and whether operators will be required to have a motorcycle endorsement on their drivers license, or be required to wear a helmet or not, among other pending issues.
MOTORCYCLIST ADVISORY COUNCIL REAUTHORIZATION ACTION
On February 3, 2020, U.S. Senators Ron Johnson (R-WI) and Gary Peters (D-MI) introduced S.3249 as a bipartisan companion to House bill H.R.5234, calling for the Secretary of Transportation to reauthorize the Motorcyclist Advisory Council established under the FAST Act of 2015.
The “Motorcyclist Advisory Council Reauthorization Act” (S.3249 & H.R.5234) calls for a 12-member council, including members of the motorcycling community, to “advise the Secretary, the Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration regarding transportation safety issues of concern to motorcyclists, including (A) barrier design; (B) road design, construction, and maintenance practices; and (C) the architecture and implementation of intelligent transportation system technologies.”
QUOTABLE QUOTE: “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
~ Albert Einstein (1879-1955) German-born physicist
ABOUT AIM / NCOM: The National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM) is a nationwide motorcyclists rights organization serving over 2,000 NCOM Member Groups throughout the United States, with all services fully-funded through Aid to Injured Motorcyclist (AIM) Attorneys available in each state who donate a portion of their legal fees from motorcycle accidents back into the NCOM Network of Biker Services (www.ON-A-BIKE.com / 800-ON-A-BIKE).