RPM Act, Motorcycle Profiling, Fuels and more
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Happy Winter Solstice!
The Motorcycle Riders Foundation’s Board of Directors would like to wish you and your family a Happy and Safe
May the holiday season be filled with joy and laughter.
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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
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.
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.
100 and Counting
We’ve hit an important milestone in our push to pass H. Res 255 the motorcyclists profiling resolution in the House of Representatives. This week we gained our 100th co-sponsor, which means that nearly 25% of the House of Representatives is now on the record standing with the motorcycle community. It’s an excellent time to take a look inside the numbers and talk about the diversity of U.S. Representatives that support us.
What does all this mean? It means that we have an amazingly diverse set of lawmakers that have decided to stand with us on the issue of profiling. Whether they be Republican or Democrat, west coast or east coast, newly elected or long-serving, they have all gone on record against the profiling of motorcyclists.
How did we do this? We have used every tool in the motorcyclists toolbox to gain support. MRF members flooded Congressional mailboxes with letters using our CQ “Call to Action” software in April. In May, MRF members roamed the halls of Congress and met with staff and lawmakers during Bikers Inside the Beltway. Since Bikers Inside the Beltway, the DC team has done 193 in-person meetings on Capitol Hill about this issue. It’s not an exaggeration to say almost every member of the House of Representatives has heard about this issue from us.
Why is this important? In order for our resolution to be voted on, we need to demonstrate to Congressional leadership that it has broad based support. The easiest way to show that is by driving cosponsors to the resolution and having members of Congress attach their name to it.
Our initial goal was to double the 37 cosponsors we had during the last Congress. Once we hit that goal, we were told by our champions that getting to 100 would be an important benchmark. Well, we hit that and continue to run up our numbers.
While we will continue to educate lawmakers on the issue of motorcyclist profiling, we have asked Rep. Walberg and his staff to start pressing for a vote on the resolution. We have several other allies that have offered to help push our case, and we are hopeful that our hard work will be rewarded with an official vote and passage of this resolution. We will be relentless in our advocacy on this issue and will not rest until the House of Representatives joins the Senate and passes H. Res 255.
RPM Act Introduced in the Senate
On Wednesday, Senator Richard Burr (R-NC) and Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV) along with 24 (YES, 24!) other original cosponsors re-introduced S. 2602, Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act of 2019 (RPM Act), which will exclude vehicles to be used solely for competition from certain provisions of the Clean Air Act, and for other purposes. As you may remember, the Motorcycle Riders Foundation along with a dozen other organizations teamed up with the Specialty Equipment Market Association (SEMA) during the 115th Congress in promoting the passage of this legislation which would exempt you from the provisions of the Clean Air Act which makes it illegal for you to turn a street-legal vehicle or motorcycle into performance race vehicle. The legislation took some time to be introduced during this Congress due to some changes to the previous version of the bill. One of those changes would ensure this legislation would be in effect immediately after passage and would protect the racers, consumers and aftermarket industry for using or producing, selling, and/or distributing emissions-related race parts for use on vehicles used exclusively for competition while the EPA writes regulations.
The majority staff of the House Energy and Commerce Committee is still reviewing the changes to the language, but we anticipate the companion house bill will be introduced in the coming weeks. We ask you to be ready for a future call to action for the RPM Act once the House version is released.
State News – ABATE of Wisconsin sends call to action to oppose the use of blender pumps
The MRF has been working with our SMRO partner, ABATE of Wisconsin, to help them utilize our CQ software to aid the riders in Wisconsin to engage with their elected state officials to oppose AB 382 and SB 349 which would allow blender pumps to dispense E10 and E15 with a shared hose and nozzle. The use of these blender pumps increases the dangers of misfueling your motorcycle or vehicle at the pump.
To learn more about the issue in Wisconsin, you can reach out to Steve Panten, Legislative Director of ABATE of Wisconsin, by emailing him directly at email@example.com with your questions.
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.
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.
With just over a week to the pre-registration cut-off, time is running short to save money registering for The 35th Annual Meeting of the Minds Conference!!!
As the MRF makes final preparations to Honor the Past with the induction of Legacy Members into the MRF Hall of Fame and gear up to Protect the Future with two days of information filled workshops and presentations, you still have time to register for this premier event and secure your hotel room.
Up to the minute legislative updates, topical workshops to assist you in building your SMRO, plus several hundred new and old friends you’ll be glad to see! Workshop & presentations including…
And there’s more… Those listed workshops represent one-third of the time allocated for workshops. We’ve got eight more and only two days to deliver. However, those two days will be so jammed packed by the end of the Conference you’ll wonder where the time went and be asking for more.
The 35th Annual Meeting of the Minds Conference is coming together as well as any smooth-running machine. We don’t want you to miss it as we Honor the Past, Protect the Future and live up to meeting and exceeding the expectations of motorcyclists’ rights advocates from across the country.
You have until August 23rd to take advantage of the MOTM pre-registration price of $80.00 for MRF members or $90.00 for non-MRF members.
Use this link to register: Meeting of the Minds 2019
After August 23rd, the event registration fee goes to $90.00 for members and $100.00 for non-members. And you’re not just getting a receipt for your efforts… You’ll get a few hundred years of experience from some of the most dedicated and knowledgeable motorcyclists’ rights advocates in the world!
The deadline to get the nightly room rate of $115.00 at the MOTM Conference hotel is September 4th. After that, rooms may be scarce. So, one more time… beat the deadlines and register for the 35th Annual Meeting of the Minds Conference. While it’s on your mind, call (952) 854-9000 and use this code to get you’re the MRF room rate: Block code MOT LINK TO HOTEL MOTM2019
Thanks, and we look forward to seeing you in September at the Crowne Plaza Aire Hotel in Bloomington, Minnesota, for the 35th Annual Meeting of the Minds Conference!!!
Director, Conferences & Events
Motorcycle Riders Foundation
Capitol Hill Update
Full Court Press
This week the MRF team in Washington met with 24 congressional offices to discuss motorcycle priorities with an emphasis on H. Res 255, the anti-motorcycle profiling resolution. The strategy to get this resolution passed is simple; we need to get as many co-sponsors added to the resolution as possible. A large number of co-sponsors demonstrates support for the resolution and helps let Congressional leaders know that there is broad political support for passing the resolution.
Last year, the House version of this resolution had 39 cosponsors. This year our goal is to get that number above 60. Since the resolution was introduced six weeks ago, we have garnered 22 cosponsors including seven that were added just this week. The letters sent by MRF members and our meetings on Capitol Hill are helping build momentum, but we need to keep the pressure up. The DC team will continue to meet with congressional offices and Bikers Inside the Beltway is a great opportunity for motorcyclists to educate lawmakers about this issue.
We are casting a wide net hoping to gain support from a variety of different states. Our meetings this week were with members of Congress from 21 different states. Currently, Illinois is leading the way with five co-sponsors on the resolution. We will keep you updated on our meetings and the growth of our co-sponsor list.
Late last week, the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee asked its members to submit a list of surface transportation priorities. This list will help guide the committee in building an agenda for hearings and legislation in the coming months. Congressman Troy Balderson (R-Ohio) submitted this request to the committee: “Direct NHTSA to reevaluate the federal definition of a motorcycle (the current definition of a motorcycle includes autocycles).”
Congressman Balderson was first elected to Congress in August of 2018 to fill a vacancy created by a retirement. He won reelection three months later and is now serving his first full term in Congress. The Congressman is a motorcycle rider and recently joined the House Motorcycle Caucus. He has shown a desire to learn more about legislative issues motorcyclists face and with his position on the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee hopes to play a leading role in advocating for the motorcycle community. We are excited about our new ally and advocate and look forward to working on a variety of issues with him.
The Motorcycle Riders Foundation would like to thank Congressman Michael Burgess (TX) and Congressman Tim Walberg (MI) for a letter they sent this week to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) seeking clarification regarding the definition of a motorcycle. In addition to Congressman Burgess and Congressman Wahlberg, the following U.S. Representatives joined their colleagues in signing the letter: Congressman Troy Balderson (OH), Congressman Doug Lamborn (CO), Congressman Collin Peterson (MN), Congressman Steve Stivers (OH) and Congressman Glenn “GT” Thompson (PA). The current definition is decades old and so broad that new vehicles on our roadways, with numerous carlike features, are defined as motorcycles.
“As you know, NHTSA has long defined a motorcycle as a ‘motor vehicle with motive power having a seat or saddle for the use of the rider and designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground.’ While this was a clear characterization for many years, the recent emergence of a new class of vehicle that has attributes of both automobiles and motorcycles has created confusion,” the members wrote. “We respectfully request a response that describes whether NHTSA believes the current federal definition of a motorcycle is appropriate and if not, what NHTSA is doing to address this issue.”
The ambiguity of the classification of these new vehicles as either motorcycles or autocycles has created a patchwork of rules and regulations at the state level for licensing, registration and insurance. The MRF believes that a review of this definition is needed and would help provide clarity to states when making decisions on how to appropriately regulate them. We thank these seven members of Congress for seeking clarification from NHTSA on this issue of importance to motorcyclists.
President of the MRF, Kirk “Hardtail” Willard, stated “For three years our members have asked us to tackle the federal definition of a motorcycle. This letter is the first step in helping us understand the current thought process of NHTSA and hopefully opens up a dialogue on the topic. We thank this bipartisan group of Congressmen for their leadership on this issue.”
Link to the Letter:
The Motorcycle Riders Foundation would like to Congratulate Vince Consiglio of Michigan on his nomination and soon to be induction into the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum Freedom Fighters Hall of Fame. Each year, the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame recognizes individuals or groups who have made a long-term, positive impact on the motorcycling community.
Vince joined ABATE of Michigan in 1975, and almost immediately was elected to the Board of Directors. He had spent almost four decades fighting against the mandatory helmet law in his home state before the victory finally became a reality in 2012. Vince has been a Chief Instructor since 1980 and has managed rider training ever since. He is also the current President of ABATE of Michigan and has held that position for over two decades.
There is no one in the motorcyclists rights movement that has held the title of State President for 25 years, managed rider education for nearly 40 years all while battling a mandatory helmet law for nearly 40 years.
Vince is also a constant presence representing the motorcyclists of Michigan in our Nations’ Capitol working closely with the Motorcycle Riders Foundation. ABATE of Michigan under Vince’s leadership has fostered effective working relationships with numerous members of Congress. Many of the federal bills brought forth on behalf of the motorcyclists of this nation were sponsored and co-sponsored by members of Congress from Michigan who were designated as Legislative Champions by the Motorcycle Riders Foundation.
Vince has been recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Motorcycle Riders Foundation as well as having been inducted into the Motorcycle Riders Foundation Hall of Fame in 2018.
Other Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame 2019 Inductees are: Frank Fritz, Jill Parham, Ron Paugh, Danny Fitzmaurice, Ron Finch, Terry Rymer, Gloria Struck and Lonnie Isam Jr ‘in memoriam’.
If you are planning on traveling to Sturgis for the 2019 Rally, consider joining the strong contingent of Motorcycle Rider Foundation members that will be in attendance at the Induction breakfast and ceremony on Wednesday August 7th at The Lodge at Deadwood.
Tickets are available here: https://www.sturgismuseum.com/hof