July 28, 2017 - RIDING FREE FROM DC: Your Weekly Biker Bulletin from Inside the Beltway

Alerts and other info from the MRF

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July 28, 2017 - RIDING FREE FROM DC: Your Weekly Biker Bulletin from Inside the Beltway


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Your Weekly Biker Bulletin from Inside the Beltway

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.



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NEWS FROM THE HILL – Infrastructure Package Stalled? Plus Driverless Car Bills Zoom Through Energy & Commerce


As a candidate, President Trump pitched revitalizing the nation’s infrastructure (and creating jobs while doing it) as a key priority of his agenda. For motorcyclists, the idea of a major infrastructure revamp could be a two-edged sword. On one side, the possibility of better road conditions and more favorable riding settings; while on the other, we ‘tried and true’ MRF lifers know that the safety-crats will undoubtedly use this big package to slide in language affecting our right to ride. Because of this, your MRF has been keeping a close watch on these discussions as they develop. However, Trump’s ambitious public works plan is fast becoming an afterthought. It remains stuck at the end of the legislative line according to the staffers I’ve spoken with on Capitol Hill. They’ve told me it’s behind a number of other ‘must dos’ including negotiations over the budget, the debt ceiling, a tax overhaul, a new push to toughen immigration laws and the seemingly never-ending story of trying to find a replacement for the Affordable Care Act. Mr. Trump’s team has yet to produce the detailed plan he has promised to deliver “very soon.” This is despite talk from Democrats and Republicans alike that this could be an important win on his agenda. The current rumor is that we may see an outline of a plan come fall…and when this announcement does come, your MRF will be ‘at the ready’ to make sure your voice is heard.

On Thursday, the House Energy and Commerce Committee considered a bill on driverless cars that, tackled some contentious issues like balancing the roles of federal and state governments and granting exemptions from federal motor vehicle safety standards. H.R. 3388 is one in a series of bills that the Committee is examining in its efforts to regulate this fast-growing sector. Of note, an amendment was added during Thursday’s markup which required vehicle manufacturers to provide consumers with clear information on new cars' self-driving capabilities and limitations. This would address the concerns of many (including others on the road – LIKE RIDERS) that individuals who use these types of vehicles won’t know when the computers stop and they have to take over! This type of confusion could have disastrous consequences. H.R. 3388, or the SELF-DRIVE Act was voted on 54 – 0 with no one opposing. You can review the Committee’s work below. The bill now heads to the House floor.



This week, the federal safety watchdog, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), released statements saying that speeding is a big blindspot in America's road safety efforts. To change that, it's issuing a new set of recommendations for federal and state officials. According to the draft report released earlier this week, more than 112,500 people lost their lives in speed-related crashes from 2005 to 2014, accounting for 31 percent of all traffic deaths in America over that period. While you can read the report by clicking HERE: NTSB REPORT

Let me break it down for you…the NTSB says excessive speed kills and our federal and state officials aren’t doing enough to address the problem. So along with the report, the NTSB issued safety recommendations to the US Department of Transportation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Federal Highway Administration, the Governors Highway Safety Association, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the National Sheriffs’ Association. The NTSB also recommended action from seven states that prohibit automated speed enforcement, 28 states without automated speed enforcement laws, and 15 states with automated speed enforcement restrictions. So what does all that mean for riders? Better get ready to smile – I predict more speed cameras in the days ahead….

STATE NEWS – Possibility of New Toll Roads in Wisconsin, Oregon, Rhode Island

As the summer draws to a close, our partners at the Americans for Toll-Free Interstates have been steadily working to oppose tolling expansion at the federal and state levels. And though tolling efforts have slowed slightly due to the summer lull, Oregon, Wisconsin and Rhode Island have managed to stay busy…

Oregon’s transportation bill has a provision implementing variable tolling on some major freeways within the state. For those that don’t know, variable tolling means charging a higher price to get on the road if it’s congested. I guess Oregon riders better avoid the freeways during rush hour. Hope you like to take your rides between 10am and 3pm! And in Wisconsin, Republican senators haven’t been able to find consensus as to whether to pursue toll roads for Wisconsin’s interstates.

Like paying to ride your bike on highways? Didn’t think so. Want to do something about it?

SIGN THE PETITION: http://tollfreeinterstates.com/#

MRF NEWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS – Don’t Take No for An Answer…Seriously!

I had an exchange with a MRF member a week or so ago that I thought I would pass along. I know that many of you are getting responses back from your Members of Congress based off of letters they received from you asking them to rethink the ethanol issue, sign on to the profiling resolution, proceed with caution on driverless cars, help pass the RPM Act, etc. etc.

What I imagine most of you get is some sort of generic response that says, “be assured if this issue comes to the floor, I will keep your views in mind”

Now, the reason I know this is because I used to be a congressional staffer….and admittedly sometimes a lazy one. And sometimes in those lazy days of summer during my days on the Hill, I would simply copy and paste that generic response and send it out – signed, sealed, delivered. (and then hightail it to happy hour)

Let’s put aside the fact that I was a 22-year-old underpaid staffer who had a softball game to play and beers to drink. Instead let’s focus on what we should take away from this insider’s perspective: DON’T TAKE THIS INITIAL LETTER AS A FINAL ANSWER! Likely, a lower level staffer (like me!) wrote this. It’s a general copy and paste job. They don’t expect (nor want) you to respond. BUT YOU SHOULD. This will kick the issue up to higher level staffer (perhaps the Legislative Director) or a more Senior aide.

Also? I would demand an answer. Get them on the record as saying “I cannot sign on at this time” or “I don’t support this bill” because once you have that answer, you can do your own copy and paste job and send their response out to all of your contacts and label that elected official as NOT BIKER FRIENDLY. We’ll see how he (or she) does in their next election…because remember….BIKERS VOTE.

Bottom line – don’t take the initial response as a final answer…like all good things in life, we have to work a little to get what we want.



Megan Ekstrom

Vice-President of Government Affairs & Public Relations

The Motorcycle Riders Foundation



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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.



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