The measure, H.R. 904 authored by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.), would prohibit the transportation secretary from providing grants or any funds to a state, county, town, township, Indian tribe, municipality or other local government for use by any program to check safety equipment use or create arbitrary checkpoints for motorcycle riders or passengers.
"The AMA thanks these members of Congress for protecting the motorcycle lifestyle, and encourages motorcyclists in these representatives' districts to thank them for their support," said Wayne Allard, AMA vice president for government relations.
At the same time, Sensenbrenner and Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wis.), along with 29 other members of Congress, have sent a letter to the leadership of the House-Senate Surface Transportation Reauthorization Conference Committee requesting the inclusion of language in the conference report that would prohibit the transportation secretary from providing funds for motorcycle-only checkpoints.
Responding to a nationwide appeal issued by the AMA on May 29, AMA members and concerned motorcyclists contacted their elected representatives and urged them to sign on to the Sensenbrenner-Petri letter. As a result, a bipartisan group of legislators now seeks to overturn a controversial federal program that unfairly discriminates against motorcyclists.
The AMA began tracking motorcycle-only checkpoints when they first appeared in New York in 2007. In 2011, using funds provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the state of Georgia conducted roadside motorcycle-only checkpoints as thousands of motorcyclists rode through the state on their way to Daytona Beach, Fla., for Bike Week, March 4-13. Another motorcycle-only checkpoint was conducted in northern Virginia during one of the nation's most visible motorcycle rallies — Rolling Thunder — over the 2011 Memorial Day weekend. Motorcycle-only checkpoints were also conducted in Utah when thousands of riders attended a world-class roadracing event.
Three states have since outlawed the practice — Virginia, North Carolina, New Hampshire — and legislation to prohibit them has been introduced in Illinois, California, Missouri and New Jersey.
The letter stated: "MOCs [motorcycle-only checkpoints] are a controversial and unproven method of addressing motorcyclist safety and have not been an efficient use of limited federal dollars. The very existence of this program essentially profiles a group of citizens — the motorcycling community — for operating a legal mode of transportation."
The letter added: "The DOT should focus on programs to instruct motorcyclists on the importance of proper licensing, rider education, and motorcycle awareness campaigns."