News and other info from NCOM

7/19/2011 7:41:20 PM
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THE AIM/NCOM MOTORCYCLE E-NEWS SERVICEis 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



Compiled & Edited by Bill Bish,

National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM)



Despite pouring rain, nearly 100,000 angry motorcyclists brought every major city in France to a standstill in protest of unfair proposals including requiring every rider to wear a fluorescent yellow high visibility vest, banning traffic filtering (lane splitting), and increasing the size of motorcycle registration plates.


Organized by the Federation Francaise des Motards en Colere (FFMC – French Federation of Angry Bikers) through its highly efficient network of regional and local offices, Paris alone saw more than 15,000 bikers blocking the heart of the capital, with thousands more paralyzing dozens of cities across the country for hours with demonstrations against the French government and interior minister Claude Guéant for their anti-motorcycle policies and proposals.


“Bikers in France are just fed up with Guéant’s stupid proposals and his ’I can’t see you, I can’t hear you’ attitude, to the extent that almost 100,000 of them have today stood up against their government and paralyzed the whole nation,” reported


In response to the largest motorcycle protest in France’s history, road safety director Michèle Merli said on national radio that bikers misunderstood the proposed obligation to wear a high visibility vest but would rather propose to riders that they wear a little yellow strap around their arm so that they can be better seen by motorists.


UK France says they believe that “it is not the bikers who have misunderstood the latest government’s proposals but rather the French government who continue to severely misunderstand and under-estimate the safety of riders.”



Recognizing that higher levels of ethanol in gasoline can cause engine damage and void warranties for motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles and many other small gas-powered motors, U.S. Representative Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) has introduced H.R. 748 to prohibit the EPA from authorizing the use of gasoline containing greater than 10% ethanol.


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recently approved E15, gasoline containing 15% alcohol, for use in 2001 or newer cars and light duty trucks, though most on- or off-highway motorcycles and all ATVs are not approved for its use, and using the hotter-burning fuel could void the manufacturer’s warranty.


Motorcyclists should be concerned about the availability of compatible fuel supplies if gas stations primarily provide E15 gasoline for the majority of their customers, and riders are urged to contact their Congressional Representative to support H.R. 748.



Congressman Denny Rehberg (R-MT) successfully inserted language into an appropriations bill on June 17 to prevent the government from using federal funds to enforce a ban on the sale of kids’ dirtbikes and ATVs due to the lead content of certain components.


A so-called “Lead Law” was passed by Congress in 2008 to protect children from the toxic metal typically contained in cheap imported toys, but the sales ban has also been enforced by the Consumer Product Safety Commission against youth-sized cycles which contain lead in certain components like batteries and brakes.


If passed with the Rehberg language intact, the federal funding measure would prohibit the CPSC from using money to enforce lead-content limits on off-highway vehicles intended for sale to children 12 and under.


In other developments in opposition to the “lead law”, a key Congressional subcommittee has approved a bill to exempt dirtbike and ATV battery terminals and other lead-content parts from the CPSC enforcement, voting on May 12 to send the Enhancing CPSC Authority and Discretion Act on to the full Committee on Energy and Commerce for further consideration.



“HB 381 an Act to Prevent Law Enforcement Agencies from establishing patterns for vehicle stops at checking stations based on a particular type of vehicle is now Session Law 2011-216,” reports Doc Ski, legislative director for CBA/ABATE of North Carolina and a member of the National Coalition of Motorcyclists Legislative Task Force (NCOM-LTF).


The legislation passed unanimously through both houses of the legislature, and was signed into law on June 23 by Governor Beverly Perdue, making North Carolina the second state in a month behind New Hampshire to enact such laws in response to NHTSA funding of motorcycle-only checkpoints to stop motorcyclists en route to major biker events to check equipment and paperwork.


This bill, sponsored by Rep. John A. Torbett (R-Stanley), provides that a vehicle checkpoint pattern designated by a law enforcement agency shall not be based on a particular vehicle type and must include all types of vehicles, but does not restrict any other type of checkpoint or roadblock which is otherwise lawful.


In addition to preventing motorcycle-only roadblocks, Governor Perdue also signed HB 113 to increase the minimum penalties for violating the right of way of a motorcyclist.  The previous fine for this infraction was a mere $25, but this bill sponsored by Rep. Ric Killian (R-Raleigh) calls for a $200 fine for a driver who causes a motorcyclist to leave his travel lane.  The fine is increased to $500 if there is property damage or personal injury sustained from this violation.



Motorcyclists in a growing number of states are being allowed to go through red lights when sensors aren't able to detect they are there. Effective July 1, Virginia became the tenth state since 2002 to give motorcyclists license to proceed with caution after stopping when the device that causes the light to change from red to green doesn't activate, while a similar bill in Illinois sits on the governor’s desk awaiting his signature.


HB 1981 by Virginia State Delegate Thomas A. Greason (R-Potomac Falls) allows riders of motorcycles, mopeds and bicycles to treat red lights as stop signs provided they come to a complete stop for two cycles of the light before proceeding with due care when safe to do so.


Illinois Governor Pat Quinn has until August 29 to sign or veto HB 2860 by Rep. Dan Beiser (D-Alton) which would permit motorcycle operators to proceed through a steady red signal that fails to change to green within a “reasonable period of time”. In order to garner support for the measure, the city of Chicago was exempted from the proposed new law.


Kansas also recently passed a "dead red" law that allows motorcyclists to run inoperable red lights without risking a ticket, and similar legislation has passed in Minnesota (2002), Tennessee (2003), Arkansas (2005), Idaho (2006), Wisconsin (2006), North Carolina (2007), South Carolina (2008), and Missouri (2008). Texas and California have addressed the problem by passing laws to require stoplights to be fitted with sensors that can detect motorcycles.



Governor Tom Corbett marked the midpoint of the 2011 legislative session in July by signing dozens of new laws, including legislation allowing Sunday sales for motorcycle dealers.


Effective in sixty days, licensed Pennsylvania motorcycle dealers will be allowed to sell, buy or trade bikes on Sunday. Current law allows the sale of motorcycle parts and other merchandise on Sunday, but not bikes.


SB 419 is designed to give Pennsylvania dealers a level playing field with neighboring states that allow Sunday sales. Supporters have said sales have fallen in southeast Pennsylvania stores and have grown in New Jersey and Maryland since Sunday sales began recently in those states.



The first-ever Harley-Davidson license plate for automobiles is now available to Wisconsin drivers to help fund safety initiatives. The new license plate is the first and only Harley-Davidson branded plate available anywhere in the United States, and it is only being offered in Wisconsin -- the birthplace of Harley-Davidson.


Harley-Davidson Motor Company is partnering with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to make the Harley-Davidson/Share the Road plates available for automobiles, light trucks and motor homes as of April 13, 2011.  The cost of the plates will include a $15 issuance fee, and an annual $25 donation that will help support safety initiatives throughout the state.


The car-size license plate was designed in collaboration with the Harley-Davidson Motor Company Styling Team. The words "Share the Road" are displayed to emphasize the importance of motorcycle safety.



Governor Jack Markell has vetoed HB 95 which would have repealed the requirement that persons operating a motorcycle in Delaware carry a safety helmet. Since 1978 when the state repealed their mandatory helmet law, Delaware has one of the most unique helmet laws on the books by requiring riders to have a helmet in their possession on the bike, but not requiring those over 18 to actually wear one.


Even as Delaware riders hear of their governor’s decision, all eyes are on Michigan where a bill to repeal their 42-year old helmet law appears destined for their governor’s desk, where its fate is no more certain.


The Michigan Senate recently voted 24-14 to approve a measure that would allow motorcyclists 21 or older to go lidless if they have been licensed to operate a motorcycle for at least two years or have passed a safety course, though ABATE of Michigan opposes an amendment requiring $100,000.00 in medical coverage to ride without a helmet, calling it excessive and noting that many insurance companies don’t offer such coverage, and if they did the cost would be prohibitive.


ABATE says they will fight to have the insurance requirement removed as the bill moves through the house, but though republican Governor Rick Snyder remains noncommittal he has hinted to the Detroit News that he’s willing to consider the elimination of Michigan’s motorcycle helmet law in the context of general auto insurance reforms that he’s preparing to propose to lawmakers. Three previous attempts to repeal the helmet law have been vetoed by prior governors, twice by Snyder's immediate predecessor democratic governor Jennifer Granholm.



“A federal judge has rejected an unprecedented bid by the U.S. government to seek control of a gang's name and its identity - via its logo - through a court order in a case involving the notorious Mongols motorcycle club,” according to the Associated Press report regarding an eight-page ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Otis Wright, II who wrote on June 28, 2011 that he must "regrettably" rule in favor of the Mongols because the group itself was not named in a 2008 racketeering indictment.


To summarize the Court’s findings, Aid to Injured Motorcyclists (A.I.M.) Attorney Boyd Spencer of Pennsylvania wrote:


Since the Mongols Nation Club was never indicted, much less ever convicted of any criminal act, then the criminal forfeiture of the trademark owned by the Mongols Nation was in total error.


The Mongols Motorcycle Club, or Mongol Nation, owned the trademark of the club colors since 1969.


Any assignment made by any member of the club to himself or any other individual was void. This is because the trademark was a collective membership mark which can only be owned by the organization for which the Mark stands. Only the Mongols Club, or Mongols Nation could have a property interest or own the patch, colors, or trademark for the patch or colors.


Since the Mongols were not indicted in the criminal action, the property of anyone other than the defendants in a criminal action, cannot have their personal property forfeited.


This order, and the prior litigation that led up to this order, is a victory for the rights of motorcycle clubs to own, display, and fly their colors, without forfeiture by the government.


QUOTABLE QUOTE:What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”


Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) American Poet & Philosopher

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