NCOM BIKER NEWSBYTES
Compiled & Edited by Bill Bish,
National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM)
NCOM CONVENTION LAPS THE CIRCLE CITY
Indianapolis is known for its world famous racetrack, but few people realize that the first race ever ran at the “brickyard” was with motorcycles way back in 1909. After more than a century, we’re still in a race — but it’s not a shiny trophy we’re out to win, but our rights as riders.
The 27th annual NCOM Convention was held over Mother’s Day weekend, May 10-13, 2012 at the luxurious J W Marriot in Indy, and this yearly gathering drew bikers’ rights activists from across the country to discuss topics of concern to all riders; such as biker discrimination, motorcycle-only roadblocks, and mobilizing motorcyclists to advocate motorcycle-friendly legislation and defeat anti-biking bills. Early motorcyclists didn’t face many restrictions on themselves or their machines, and our goal as grass roots activists over the years has been to maintain our Freedom of the Road, while promoting a pro-motorcycling agenda to make roads safer for future riders.
The National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM) is solely sponsored by the Aid to Injured Motorcyclists (A.I.M.) nationwide legal services program and serves as an umbrella organization for more than 2,000 NCOM Member clubs, organizations and associations worldwide, representing well over a quarter of a million politically active motorcyclists. NCOM has successfully outreached to numerous segments of the motorcycling community in an effort to unite for our rights, both legal and legislatively, and has become a unifying voice amongst North America’s motorcycle rights organizations (MROs), motorcycle clubs, women riders, religious riding organizations, touring groups, trikers, sportbikers, and minority motorcyclists.
All motorcyclists are welcome to attend the NCOM Convention, hosted this year by the Indiana Confederation of Clubs, and encouraged to participate in the many meetings, seminars and group discussions that focused on legislative efforts and litigation techniques to benefit our right to ride.
During the Silver Spoke Awards Banquet on Saturday evening, several honorees were recognized for their contributions to “Improving The Image of Motorcycling”, including; GOVERNMENT: Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels & former Congresswoman Gabrielle “Gabby” Gifford (D-AZ); MEDIA: Jeff “Twitch” Burns – Outsiders M/C and Washington Confederation of Clubs & Jerry “Rotten” Remington – Unchained Brotherhood M/C and WA-COC; COMMERCE: Pastor Ron Baptiste – Covenant Confirmer Ministries M/M and founder of the first Biker Medical Clinic; LEGAL: John Daugs – South Carolina AIM Attorney; SPECIAL RECOGNITION: Annette Torrez – Chairman of the New Mexico Motorcycle Rights Organization (NMMRO), Gene Mortimore – ABATE of Oregon, and Kimmy Chapman – Publisher of the Biker Information Guide (posthumously); and NCOM’s highest honor the Ron Roloff Lifetime Achievement Award was presented to South Dakota State Senator Jim “Putter” Putnam, longtime member of the NCOM Legislative Task Force.
Next year’s 28th Annual NCOM Convention will be held May 9-12, 2013 at the Silver Legacy Resort-Casino, 407 N. Virginia St. in Reno, Nevada. For further information, contact NCOM at (800) 525-5355 or visit www.ON-A-BIKE.com.
HEALTH AGENCY PUSHES HELMETS WITH BOGUS FINDINGS
Researchers at the Centers For Disease Control are using flawed logic to promote their crusade for helmet laws, but “Garbage-In, Garbage-Out” numbers reveal helmet use is actually in indirect proportion to motorcycle fatalities.
In a newly-released CDC study of Fatal Accident Reporting System (FARS) data, the following has been quoted recently by media outlets from coast to coast; “According to a CDC analysis of fatal crash data from 2008 to 2010, a total of 14,283 motorcyclists were killed in crashes, among whom 6,057 (42 percent) were not wearing a helmet. In the 20 states with a universal helmet law, 739 (12 percent) fatally injured motorcyclists were not wearing a helmet, compared with 4,814 motorcyclists (64 percent) in the 27 states with partial helmet laws and 504 (79 percent) motorcyclists in the three states without a helmet law.”
The National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM) looked over the CDC’s own numbers and found some serious faults in their findings:First off, if 6,057 motorcyclists were not wearing helmets of the 14,283 motorcyclists who were killed in crashes during the 3-year study period, that means that 8,226 riders (58%) WERE wearing helmets when they died, meaning that the vast majority of motorcyclist fatalities nationwide wore helmets!
Using the CDC’s twisted logic, nearly half of all motorcyclists killed were in the 20 states that required them to wear a helmet!
If the agency’s numbers are to be believed, between 64-78% of riders in the 30 partial and no-helmet law states legally chose to ride without a helmet, yet only 38% of the fatalities involved non-helmeted riders, so helmet use is astonishingly over-represented in motorcyclists’ mortality statistics!
But the CDC also touts that 12% of the biker deaths in helmet law states were not wearing a helmet. The most amazing thing about this figure is that helmet use rates approach 100% in helmet law states and virtually no one rides without one at the risk of facing hefty fines! What the government’s numbers most likely reveal, if they have any legitimacy at all, is that helmets come off in about one in ten fatal accidents. This revelation is consistent with prior estimates, and seriously skews their other helmet use/non-use data, because it would mean considerably more riders were wearing helmets up to the moment of their demise than previously anticipated, which means all the Center’s fiscal extrapolations are meaningless as well.
Another gem proffered by the CDC to bolster their helmet law push is that while motorcycles represent only 3% of registered vehicles they represent nearly 14% of traffic fatalities. But when you consider that motorcycles offer little in the way of physical protection during a collision, unlike cars with airbags, crumple zones and impact-absorbing structures, it’s easy to understand why motorcyclists seldom have fender-benders…yet auto drivers routinely walk away from high-speed impacts.
The true numbers are pretty clear; a previous DOT Traffic Safety Facts Research Note states in 2010 that 54% of all U.S. motorcyclists were observed wearing a helmet when they rode, whether by choice or by law, and since the CDC says 58% of fatally injured riders wore a helmet at that time, then helmets obviously are not designed to protect against fatal injuries.
MOTORCYCLIST FATALITIES REMAIN STEADY
U.S. motorcyclist fatalities have remained roughly the same over the past three years, following a sharp decline in 2009, according to preliminary data recently released by the Governors Highway Safety Association.
In a May 21 report, the GHSA projects the final tally for 2011 will be very close to the 4,502 fatalities reported for 2010 and the 4,469 deaths in 2009, which represented a dramatic 16% decline from 2008.
Earlier, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration projected that overall motor vehicle fatalities declined 1.7% in 2011, reaching their lowest level since 1949, but the GHSA says high gas prices are driving more people to ride motorcycles.
Motorcycle deaths increased in 26 states for the first nine months of last year, declined in 23 states, and remained unchanged in one. “States with fewer motorcyclist fatalities attributed the decrease to poor cycling weather, reduced motorcycle registrations and motorcycle travel, increased law enforcement, rider training, and motorcycle safety education,” according to the GHSA report. “States with more fatalities cited good cycling weather, increased motorcycle registrations and travel, and a return to normal levels after an abnormally low fatality count in 2010.”
FEDERAL LAWMAKERS SEEK TO BAN MOTORCYCLE-ONLY CHECKPOINTS
Federal lawmakers have sent a bipartisan letter to the leadership of a key House-Senate conference committee to urge support for legislation that prohibits federal funding for motorcycle-only checkpoints.
Reps Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) and Tom Petri (R-WI) were joined by 29 congressional colleagues who sent the letter on May 25 urging the panel to include H.R. 904 and H.Res. 239 in the surface transportation reauthorization conference report.
H.R. 904 would prohibit the U.S. Transportation Secretary from providing grants or any funds to a state or local government to be used for programs to check helmet usage or to create motorcycle-only checkpoints.
H.Res. 239 would support efforts to retain a ban on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA’s) ability to lobby state legislators using federal tax dollars and urges the agency to focus on motorcycle crash prevention and rider education and training.
“There is broad bipartisan support on Capitol Hill, and among motorcycle groups across the country, for efforts by Congress to prohibit the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) from funding motorcycle-only-checkpoints (MOCs),” the letter states, further noting that “We take motorcycle safety seriously and want NHTSA to focus its safety efforts on proven lifesaving methods.”
CONGRESSIONAL RECORD RECOGNIZES VIABILITY OF MOTORCYCLES
Congressional Motorcycle Safety Caucus Member and House Highways and Transit Subcommittee Chairman John Duncan (R-TN) entered a statement to the Congressional Record on May 18 recognizing motorcycles and scooters as viable transportation options for many Americans. Previously, President Obama had proclaimed May 15 through May 21 as National Transportation Week and acknowledged that America needs a safer transportation network that will provide more transportation choices.
“As a Member of the Congressional Motorcycle Safety Caucus, I would like to highlight one such choice and point out that two wheeled vehicles can be transportation options for many Americans,” said Chairman Duncan. “In his proclamation, the President called for increased transportation options that cut commuting time, ease traffic congestion, reduce oil consumption and lower greenhouse gas emissions. Motorcycles and scooters are options that can help to meet all of these goals. Motorcycles and scooters also have the advantages of being much cheaper than cars or trucks as well as considerably easier to park – and a lot of fun to ride.”
“I own a scooter myself and I enjoy riding when I get the opportunity,” said Duncan. “I encourage all riders to get trained, licensed and obey traffic laws, and I remind all road users to be aware of motorcyclists.”
OUTDOOR RECREATION REPRESENTS MULTI-BILLION DOLLAR INDUSTRY
Americans spent over half a trillion dollars enjoying the great outdoors last year, according to a newly released joint study that documents the continued growth and significance of outdoor recreation to the economies of our individual states and the nation overall.
The Motorcycle Industry Council, along with the Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association and Specialty Vehicle Institute of America, collaborated with the Western Governors’ Association and other outdoor industry groups to fund a report on the combined economic impact of motorized and non-motorized outdoor recreation. The findings of this first-of-a kind study show the outdoor recreation industry generated $646 billion in national sales and services in 2011.
The full report is titled “A Snapshot of The Economic Impact of Outdoor Recreation,” and can be found at www.westgov.org/reports. According to MIC Senior Vice President, Government Relations, Kathy Van Kleeck, the MIC will soon release information specific to the motorized recreation sector, and the WGA and the outdoor recreation industry partners will release state-by-state data later in the year. “The state-by-state information will be particularly useful in our government relations efforts to promote motorized recreation and advocate for off-highway vehicle opportunities,” said Van Kleeck.
CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHT TO DO BURNOUTS
When officials cracked down on motorcyclists doing burnouts at this year’s annual Myrtle Beach Spring Rally, a local biker bar made a federal case out of it, literally. Now it will be up to a judge to decide if doing burnouts – revving a motorcycle’s engine while applying the front brake to let its back tire spin to create noise and smoke – is a constitutionally-protected right.
Horry County cracked down on burnouts during bike festivals last year, issuing a special event permit to Suck Bang Blow that limited the activity to between noon and 9 p.m. and only at the rear of the bar’s building. This year, the county issued a permit that banned burnouts altogether.
SBB, which claims the activity has been a regular feature of bike rally events at the bar since it opened in 1996, obtained a temporary restraining order against the county just before the May rally, allowing the burnouts to continue at least for now.
In a lawsuit filed in state court, SBB claims that burnouts are among several activities patrons participate in while “expressing their manliness and macho, as all males are prone and inclined to do to a greater or lesser degree.” The bar says burnouts are “expressive performances to the public” and is protected by the First Amendment.
Horry County, in its response to the lawsuit, calls burnouts a “public nuisance” and says it “is expressly authorized by state statute to abate public nuisances.” The county denies that it has violated any Constitutional rights, but since the lawsuit deals with federal rights it should be heard in federal court. A decision could come just in time for next year’s rally, with a jury trial scheduled to begin on May 6, 2013.
QUOTABLE QUOTE: Wisconsin’s embattled Governor Scott Walker, following his strong win in the state’s recent recall election, sees support from Wisconsinites not just a ticket to govern, but also a ticket to ride; “I’m gonna go ride my Harley all around the state of Wisconsin. Who knows where I’ll end up. I’m just getting on the motorcycle and riding,” he told Fox News.