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.
Compiled & Edited by Bill Bish,
National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM)
QUOTABLE QUOTE: “Tyranny is when the population is imprisoned – Freedom is when the politicians are.” ~ Michael Malice (b. 1976), American author, columnist & media personality
QUOTABLE QUOTE: “He that cannot reason is a fool. He that will not is a bigot. He that dare not is a slave.” ~ Andrew Carnegie (1835-1919) Scottish-American industrialist and philanthropist
NCOM CONVENTION IN DES MOINES WELCOMES RIDERS NATIONWIDE
The 36th annual NCOM Convention is right around the corner, so plan now to be a part of one of the largest gatherings of motorcycle rights activists in the world. This year’s NCOM Convention, to be held JULY 23-25, 2021 at the Holiday Inn Des Moines – Airport, located at 6111 Fleur Drive in Des Moines, Iowa (515-287-2400), will draw hundreds of concerned motorcyclists to America’s Heartland to address topics of concern to all riders.
All motorcyclists are welcomed and encouraged to participate in the many meetings, seminars and group discussions that focus on legislative efforts and litigation techniques to protect our riders’ rights and preserve Freedom of the Road.
Agenda items will cover legal and legislative issues, 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.
For more information, or to pre-register, call the National Coalition of Motorcyclists at (800) 525-5355 or visit www.ON-A-BIKE.com.
MONTANA LEGALIZES LANE-SPLITTING
Montana Governor Greg Gianforte signed Senate Bill 9 into law on March 3, which will allow motorcycles to “filter” through stopped and slow-moving vehicles beginning October 1, 2021.
Lane splitting, lane sharing or filtering… whatever it’s called, Montana now joins California and Utah in legally recognizing the practice that allows motorcyclists to maneuver through traffic.
Sponsored by state Senator Russ Tempel (R-SD14) and state Representative Barry Usher (R-HD40), S.B. 9 defines “lane filtering” as “the act of overtaking and passing another vehicle that is stopped or traveling at a speed not in excess of 10 miles an hour in the same direction of travel and in the same lane.”
The entire text of the bill is one page long, and reads; “An operator of a two-wheeled motorcycle may engage in lane filtering when:
A) the operator of a two-wheeled motorcycle is on a road with lanes wide enough to pass safely;
B) the overtaking motorcycle is not operated at a speed in excess of 20 miles an hour when overtaking the stopped or slow-moving vehicle; and
C) conditions permit continued reasonable and prudent operation of the motorcycle while lane filtering.”
While controversial and contentious, even amongst motorcyclists, a UC Berkeley study confirmed that lane-splitting is less dangerous for motorcyclists than being stopped in traffic.
80TH DAYTONA BIKE WEEK HISTORICALLY SUCCESSFUL
As businesses are still recovering from a devastating year of COVID shutdowns and lower capacity restrictions, Daytona Beach is coming off one of their best Bike Weeks ever. Bob Davis, president of the Lodging and Hospitality Association in Volusia County, said it was one of the best Bike Weeks they’ve ever had for revenue, rating it “among the top 5” in event history.
Billing itself as “The World’s Largest Motorcycle Event,” Daytona Bike Week celebrated 80 years during the first full week in March, the 5th through the 14th, 2021, with crowds coming in a steady stream throughout the ten days of festivities.
Last year, the nationwide lockdown to battle the pandemic began during the last weekend of Daytona Bike Week, and a year later the country is finally beginning to open for business. There are still health concerns, and signs encouraging social distancing and mask wearing were posted everywhere, but hopefully the successful turnout will signal better times to come as more and more events find their way back onto the ride calendar.
FEDERAL HIGHWAY BILL PRIORITIES
In recent years, our nationwide biker community has worked diligently with Congress to include several key motorcycle-friendly provisions in the federal highway bill that died last session; H.R.2 “Moving Forward Act,” including further prohibitions against motorcycle-only checkpoints, expanding anti-biker profiling restrictions based on mode of transportation or style of dress, and furthering riders’ future advisory role with Congress to ensure our voices are heard when determining traffic and transportation laws, as well as advancing safety funding and autonomous vehicles protections.
Because H.R. 2 failed to pass, our lobbying efforts will need to be redoubled in the U.S. House and Senate once a new transportation measure is introduced in the 117th United States Congress, which now has an extended deadline of September 2021.
The Biden Administration may utilize a new highway reauthorization bill to pass a massive infrastructure spending plan, hoping to authorize some $2.25 trillion on such items as road construction, mass transit, passenger and freight rail, airports and electric vehicles, with more than a trillion-and-a-half going toward expanding broadband, improving the electric grid, and a growing wish list of additional items.
As Congress begins deliberations on the package of transportation and infrastructure spending, it will once again fall on motorcyclists to ensure that riders’ priorities are included in the “Wish List” as this 2021 version of the highway bill develops.
You can contact your federal legislators by calling the Congressional Switchboard at (202) 224-3121, or contact their local office and set up a meeting to discuss these issues of importance to all motorcyclists!
MOTORCYCLIST ADVISORY COUNCIL BILL IN CONGRESS
A bipartisan group of U.S. Representatives has introduced a bill to reauthorize the Motorcyclist Advisory Council, a committee comprised largely of motorcycle riders established to advise Congress and the Department of Transportation on matters involving motorcycle safety, and make recommendations regarding infrastructure issues such as road design, traffic issues, and intelligent transportation systems.
H.R. 2141, introduced March 23, 2021 by Rep. Mike Gallagher (R-WI), would reauthorize the MAC for six years; require biennial reports; clarify that specific seats on the 12-member board would be occupied by motorcycle riders and advocates.
If Congress doesn’t take action prior to the September 30, 2021 deadline, the MAC is set to expire and will be disbanded, so contact your Congressional representatives today and ask them to cosponsor and support H.R. 2141.
RPM ACT NEEDED TO SAVE MOTORSPORTS
If you have made modifications to your car or motorcycle, or have an interest in motorsports and racing, you could be impacted by the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports (RPM) Act, which was first drafted up after the EPA’s Clean Air Act (CAA) in 2015 sought to make the conversion of production vehicles for “dedicated racing” illegal. Despite bipartisan support in Congress, the RPM Act has failed to pass, but because of t he EPA’s renewed push to restrict any vehicle modifications for motorsports purposes, the RPM Act is more important now than ever before.
Concerned about emissions, street vehicles — cars, trucks, and motorcycles – can no longer be converted into racecars, according to the EPA, which recently announced that enforcement against high performance parts — including superchargers, tuners, and exhaust systems — is a top priority.
According to the automotive trade association SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association), the sale, manufacture and installation of performance parts for racing would also be a violation of the EPA’s ruling.
The RPM Act would protect the racing culture in America by reversing the EPA’s interpretation that the CAA prohibits the conversion of a motor vehicle into a racecar, and also safeguards the motorsports-parts industry’s ability to sell products that enable racers to compete. The measure would clarify that it is legal to make emissions-related changes to a street vehicle for the purpose of transforming it into a racecar used exclusively in competition, and confirm that it is legal to produce, market and install performance equipment.
SURVEY SHOWS FEW DRIVERS TRUST ‘SMART MOTORWAYS’
A smart motorway, also known as an Intelligent Transport System, is a section of roadway that employs active traffic management (ATM) methods to increase capacity and reduce congestion using traffic cameras and variable speed limits to control the flow of traffic, occasionally utilizing hard-shoulder running and ramp metering at busy times.
IAM RoadSmart conducted an online poll about smart motorways in England, their safety, and whether or not road users really find them any better than traditional motorway systems. Not surprisingly, out of 4,500 people who answered the web poll, 81% felt less safe travelling on a smart motorway compared to a standard motorway; 84% have little faith in the safety systems spotting them if they break down in a running lane; 40% of drivers found no noticeable improvement in their journey time while only 4% found a very noticeable improvement; and 85% want construction halted until the safety is fully proven.
“Our members include many high mileage, experienced and confident motorway users,” said Neil Greig, a researcher at IAM RoadSmart, “but the results of this survey are clear to see, with the vast majority having very little, or no confidence, in the safety of smart motorways.”
NEW BIOMETRIC MOTORCYCLE PARKING SYSTEM PREVENTS BIKE THEFT
A tech company has developed a motorcycle ‘parking solution’ that scans your face and license plate before opening the gate and letting you roll in, as biometrics company ’Unioncommunity’ has decided to integrate a biometric identification process into motorcycle parking machines, for now, dubbed Ubio-X MPass.
Biometrics is the use of biological data to authenticate identity, just like using your fingerprint or face to unlock your phone. The parking management system is being developed primarily for the South Asian market (for now). It’s noted as a means of preventing motorcycle theft by associating the vehicle with its driver.
SKUNKLOCK FIGHTS BACK AGAINST THIEVES
With motorcycle thefts increasing yearly along with ridership going up, motorcycle security technology is constantly developing ways to stay ahead of ever-more ardent bike thieves. From ear-splitting alarms to high-tech tracking systems, security devices have become more creative — and now, it seems, even more devious!
Now, the SkunkLock motorcycle lock, a fairly conventional-looking D-lock device, actually fights back against crooks by releasing odious pressurized gas when cut, spraying the thief with “vomit-inducing chemicals” that hopefully stop the would-be thief in their tracks in the process.
“When a thief tries to grind or break a SkunkLock (SkunkLock.com), a very potent, though non-toxic and legally compliant formula escapes from the lock exposing itself to the thief. Once the compound is airborne, sight may be compromised, breathing becomes difficult, and a lot of time vomiting is induced.” Crime Fighters = 1; Evil Doers = 0
CAPITAL HILL BRIEFING ON OUTDOOR RECREATION
Outdoor Recreation Roundtable (ORR), the country’s leading outdoor recreation coalition, is set to outline the $788 billion industry’s objectives and priorities for 2021 and beyond to Congress on March 24, including briefings presented by representatives of the motorcycle, RV, boating, outfitter, ski and other outdoor sectors.
Much of the focus will be on the industry’s 21st century recreation agenda, capitalizing on soaring participation rates for job creation and economic recovery and particularly how recreation can create jobs in rural America. The group will also discuss implementing the goals of the Great American Outdoors Act and the process of choosing and implementing LWCF (Land and Water Conservation Fund) projects.
SEMA (Specialty Equipment Market Association) is challenging the EPA’s motorsports regulations in court, arguing against the federal agency’s contention that the Clean Air Act (CAA) does not allow any street vehicle – cars, trucks or motorcycles – to be converted into a racing vehicle used solely for competition.
A recent lawsuit between the Environmental Protection Agency and an aftermarket manufacturer, Gear Box Z, is the agency’s latest action against racing. In the lawsuit, the EPA again maintains that once a vehicle has been certified as a street vehicle, it cannot be converted for racing even if that vehicle is trailered to the track and is never driven on public roads.
The SEMA Action Network (SAN) says the EPA’s position left them with no choice but to strike back, filing an amicus brief in court arguing that the Clean Air Act does not apply to certified vehicles used exclusively on the track.
“As racers and fans know well, members of Congress introduced legislation to confirm what had already been understood for the previous 45 years: that the CAA did not apply to vehicles modified for racing use only,” according to a SAN statement. Hundreds of thousands of enthusiasts have since contacted Congress urging passage of the “Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act” (RPM Act).
“Enactment of this important critical bill into law would remove any doubt that it is legal to modify a motor vehicle for exclusive use on the track,” writes SAN, adding that “It also would confirm that it is legal to produce, market and install racing equipment.” The SAN continues to work tirelessly to pass this important legislation to counter EPA overreach, and save not only the sport of racing, but performance modifications.
OIL & GAS INDUSTRY FEARS BIDEN’S CLIMATE POLICIES
There’s deep paranoia in the oil and gas industry regarding the Biden Administration’s ambitious plans to address climate change. President Biden is aiming for a net-zero electricity sector by 2035, which would require massive reductions in the burning of oil, gas and coal at power plants. Net-zero means there could still be some fossil-fuel use, as long as an equivalent amount of carbon is pulled from the air using technologies that aren’t yet fully developed. Biden aims for a net-zero economy by 2050, which would require the near-elimination of carbon as a transportation fuel.
There are obvious, and worrisome, implications for businesses and workers in the traditional oil and gas industry, which supports roughly 10 million jobs directly and indirectly. Biden already killed the Keystone XL oil pipeline and halted new drilling permits on federal land, pending a review. He backs the mass adoption of electric vehicles that won’t burn gasoline or diesel. A huge Democratic infrastructure bill coming later this year is likely to include massive investments in renewable energy that would displace oil, gas and coal, while also repealing tax breaks for oil and gas drillers.
Clear battle lines are being drawn between the Administration’s climate team and the carbon industries, and more fervent opposition will heat up as Biden fleshes out his ambitious transformation plan and winners and losers become more apparent.
CALIFORNIA WILL BE BANNING SALES OF NEW NON-ELECTRIC VEHICLES
Huge news, as the sale of new off-road combustion engine vehicles (including dirt bikes) will be banned in California by 2035 in an attempt to bring the state down to carbon-neutral, and reduce pollution in the most-populated state in the country. Golden State off-roaders will be looking at a future of electric power and no combustion engines, after Governor Gavin Newsom issued an executive order to ban the sale of any non-zero-emission passenger vehicle (cars and trucks) by 2035.
On the face of it, this will be affecting 4-wheels only, but it was ruled off-road vehicles of all types will be included in the forthcoming ban – be it off-road motorcycles, ATVs, quads, or side-by-sides. Bummer, dude.
ON THE INTERNATIONAL FRONT
FRANCE BANS LANE SPLITTING; MOTORCYCLISTS PROTEST IN THE THOUSANDS
Lane-splitting was never “legal” in France, but some urban roadways in Paris, Bordeaux, Marseille & Lyon trialed the practice over a five-year test period from 2016-2021; and following some “disappointing results” the country has now banned it, much to the chagrin of French riders who are protesting the move.
On February 20, following the end of the filtering experiment, the French motorcyclists’ organization FFMC (Fédération Française des Motards en Colère) put 20,000 angry motorcyclists in the streets to demand the legalization of filtering between lanes of slow moving or stopped traffic, and the government is ready to listen to the bikers.
On 25 February, at the initiative of the Road Safety Delegation (DSR), the FFMC (a member of FEMA – Federation of European Motorcyclists’ Associations) met the Interministerial Road Safety Delegate and was assured that a ban on this practice in the future was absolutely not envisaged; but for the state to validate this practice and for the Highway Code to be modified, more experiments are necessary. Since the last experiment did not give convincing results, it is necessary to conduct a second new experiment.
While waiting for the signing of the decree which will give it the starting signal, filtering remains ‘prohibited’ and as of February 1st riders could be fined and potentially even lose their license for weaving through traffic in France now.
SPAIN PONDERS MANDATORY AIRBAGS FOR MOTORCYCLISTS
The Spanish Directorate-General for Traffic, within measures to reduce the accident and severity of its consequences on the motorcyclist collective, is considering the mandatory use of airbag vests or jackets.
65% of motorcyclists surveyed do not agree with the mandatory use of airbags, and many riders consider that before imposing more obligations, the Spanish government should fulfill its obligation to have the infrastructure in optimal security condition. Riders also want the government to fulfill old promises such as legalizing intercoms for motorcyclists.
“The problem we have is that, when a European country legislates something in relation to motorcyclists, others follow,” said Juan Manuel Reyes, president of Asociación Mutua Motera, “This is what happened with gloves in France. When they became mandatory in our neighboring country, the Spanish government wanted to imitate the measure immediately. That is why I believe that any measure is approved in a European country, must be monitored by all European motorcyclists, because sooner or later, it is possible that it will be extended to others.”
AMM has scheduled a meeting with the Spanish Directorate-General for Traffic to further discuss the matter. Also on the agenda: the Directorate-General’s wish to make wearing motorcycle gloves mandatory.
FACE MASKS REQUIRED WHILE RIDING MOTORCYCLES IN THE PHILIPPINES
These days, face masks are an all too common sight, and although studies have shown that wearing a mask can reduce the risk of Coronavirus contamination, the Philippine government has taken it a step further to mandate that face masks be worn at all times when outside of your residence – including while riding your motorcycle.
According to the Land Transportation Office (LTO) Memorandum Circular 2020-2185, the act of driving, or riding a motorcycle, while failing to comply with the minimum health and safety protocols is tantamount to reckless driving.
Specifically, Article IV, Section 7, makes it clear that there are pretty hefty fines involved for those caught disregarding the sanitary protocols in place, with fines between PHP2,000-10,000 (@ $50-250 USD) — that’s pretty hefty penalties for the average Filipino.
BIKIES COULD BE BANNED FROM WEARING CLUB COLORS IN PUBLIC
“Outlaw bikie gangs could be banned from wearing gang colours in public and subject to greater stop-and-search powers under laws proposed by police to “dismantle and destroy” WA’s criminal networks,” according to a March 17 article in WAtoday in Western Australia.
WA Police Commissioner Chris Dawson announced the reform plan shortly after confirming detectives had made a breakthrough arrest in relation to the “outrageous killing” of a former biker boss in a crowded public place, resulting in 136 search warrants issued and 102 arrests.
Anti-consorting laws are already in place in Queensland and New South Wales, where ‘bikies’ could face prison time for being caught talking to each other on a telephone call.
BRITISH GOVERNMENT INTENDS TO SCRAP EU ‘VNUK’ LAW
The Department for Transport (DfT) has announced plans to scrap the controversial ‘Vnuk’ motor insurance law, which was introduced across the European Union following a ruling by the European Court of Justice (ECJ) in 2014. The case involved a Slovenian farm worker (Mr. Vnuk) who was injured when he fell from a ladder that was struck by a farm tractor. As the tractor was used entirely off-road, it was not required to have insurance. The case was referred to the ECJ, which extended the requirements for vehicular insurance to cover a vehicle’s “normal function,” and not just use on a public road.
The far-reaching implications of the legal ruling were huge, according to MotorcycleNews.com; “For a start it meant that all vehicles, even those not registered for road use such as track bikes or motocross bikes (or even forklift trucks and golf buggies), would have to be insured at all times. It also meant that any collision involving two vehicles, even if the collision didn’t take place on a public road, would have to have been treated as a regular road traffic accident for insurance purposes. So a bump in BSB between two riders would have gone through insurance. Calculations by the DfT suggested the insurance industry would have been on the hook for roughly £458 million ($641 million USD) per year, which would likely have been passed straight onto the general public with estimates of £50 ($70) per person per year.”
Although the ruling was already passed into law when England was a member of the EU, since Brexit, now that the U.K. has exited the EU, the government can remove the costly and cumbersome legality from British law.
UK POLICE CALL FOR MONITORING ALL MOTORCYCLES
It appears that the reckless riding problem in the U.K. has reached a fever pitch, as Northumbria Police and Crime Commissioner (PCC) Kim McGuinness has proposed the use of mandatory trackers “fitted to all motorbikes so their whereabouts and speed can be monitored.”
The commissioner has proposed this rather drastic mandate in a bid to locate and check the speed of all motorcycles at all times, as law enforcement’s effort to fight the rising number of cases of speeding, and what the commissioner is calling “anti-social behavior.”
As has been the case for decades now, trackers are often used as forms of punishment for convicted lawbreakers, and implementing this proposal would effectively tag all motorcyclists as criminals. Jim Freeman of the British Motorcycling Federation was quick to chime in that, “The mandatory use of a tracker is usually a sentence imposed by the courts after due process has been followed, but this would be tantamount to a collective punishment that sweeps hundreds of thousands of innocents up along with the tiny minority of the guilty without an investigation, trial or verdict.”
SPAIN MAKES MOTORCYCLE GLOVE USE MANDATORY
Spain has now made the use of motorcycle gloves while riding mandatory, in a ‘safety’-trend that appears to be trending in Europe.
Some countries already have rulings around gloves, with approved motorcycle mitts being the norm in France since 2017. There, motorcyclists and their passengers must wear gloves and according to RideApart.com, now Spain’s DGT (Dirección General de Tráfico) is enforcing a similar law.
A DGT working group initially met to discuss the mandatory use of airbag vests for motorcyclists, but the airbag requirement was dropped, and the group moved towards mandatory glove use. Ultimately, Working Group 52 on Motorcycles and Road Safety devised a new law requiring their use, effective early 2021, which “must have thick leather, imitation leather, Kevlar, or a similar material highly resistant to abrasion and heat to be compliant.”
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).