September 8, 2017 - RIDING FREE FROM DC: Your Weekly Biker Bulletin from Inside the Beltway

Alerts and other info from the MRF

9/9/2017 8:55:54 AM
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September 8, 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 – School's Back in Session!


Congress returns from its August recess this week, but don't count on much policy work getting done given a jam-packed to-do list on several ‘must do' items including lifting the debt ceiling, funding the government (or, more likely, kicking the can until December) and funding Hurricane Harvey and Irma relief efforts.

Still though, the House made some progress this week passing a bipartisan driverless car bill on Wednesday, advancing what could become the first set of federal laws for the emerging industry. The "Self Drive Act" (which your MRF has been closely following and weighing in on) aims to speed up the development of driverless technology as well as pre-empt states from implementing certain laws governing the new technology. It would also allow car manufacturers to deploy up to 100,000 self-driving cars a year that don't meet normal safety standards. However, note that these cars would not be commercially available, but rather used for testing purposes.

Your MRF has been communicating to our federal lawmakers that robust testing must be required for manufacturers of autonomous vehicles, guaranteeing they have accounted for motorcycle recognition and responsiveness. In addition, we've been asking to have a guaranteed seat at the table as the Department of Transportation moves forward in its regulatory activities so that the voice of the rider is heard. Recently, I met with staff from the Senate Committee with jurisdiction over this issue asking for the aforementioned points to be written into their soon-to-be-released legislation. Happily, we've had a positive dialogue, and I am cautiously optimistic that the Senate bill will be a step in the right direction taking our interests into account. Stay tuned on that…As soon as I get the green light, I will send the draft out.

In the meantime, for more information and resources on the SELF DRIVE Act, you can visit


EXECUTIVE & REGULATORY UPDATES – New Studies Released on Helmets and the MRF Issues a FOIA Request on the MAC


This week, the Transportation Research Record reported abstracts of several new studies; two of which had to do with motorcycles and more specifically, the use of helmets in fatal crashes.

Not surprisingly, neither report even attempted to hide their predisposed bias. Both abstract descriptions of the studies each stated that repealing the universal helmet law had a negative effect on motorcyclists. One study looked specifically at helmet use in Colorado, while the other examined long-term effects of universal helmet laws. Shockingly, (::SARCASM::) both studies concluded that policymakers should rethink the universal helmet law. Though there is a charge to access the full studies, you can review the abstracts by clicking on the links below:


In an attempt to continue to express our frustration with the Motorcyclist Advisory Council (and its lack of motorcyclists) this week your MRF issued a FOIA request to the attorney for the Federal Highway Administration. For those outside of the beltway, a "FOIA" request stands for Freedom of Information Act. This is a law that gives you the right to access information from the federal government. Specifically, I requested that all documents/emails/communications having to do with the establishment of the Motorcyclist Advisory Council and the determination of the selected individuals be turned over for my review. Under the law, the appointed attorney has 20 days to respond to my request. I'll keep you all in the loop as we try to unravel this ridiculous example of our government at its worst…..

Oh, and one more thing – this week I heard that Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao indicated that the Agency will release an update to driverless car guidance next week. We'll be watching, and I will send it out to you all once it's in my hot little hands!




Emails were flying back and forth over the last 10 days about school bus arms and motorcyclists. For reference, see the pic below:

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The conversations over email was whether or not this posed any risk to riders as well as what states did to ensure the safety of children riding the school bus and different measures and approaches (cameras, extended arms, etc.).  Generally, the sentiment from everyone was, the extended arms should not be a risk to riders provided they follow the law and don't try and drive around a school bus at a bus stop. Then I came across this article from Idaho:

Though not exactly the situation we had discussed, I think it serves as an important reminder to everyone reading. Not only is "school" back in session for Congress, but also for our kids, grandkids, nieces and nephews. Let's ride smart and respect any school buses we may encounter.


MRF NEWS & ANNOUNCEMENTS – Seriously Solid Line Up for MOTM


I know that many have been asking for the agenda for our upcoming Meeting of the Minds. The good news is that we are putting the finishing touches on this and I can tell you that we have a very good program this year. One sneak peek I'll give you is for one of our general sessions. We have secured Dr. Todd Akins, a rider and head honcho at the National Rifle Association, aka the NRA. Todd happens to have his law degree and Ph.D. and is an expert in state lobbying and is excited to speak to our group. Not only is he going to give us practical tips on how to get our grassroots motivated and get our issues front and center, but interestingly he is going to give his lawyer spin on some of the concerns touched on last year related to motorcycle profiling and gun ownership. It's going to be good, no doubt.

So if you haven't registered, it's not too late. You can do so by calling Tiffany or I or by going on the MRF website by September 14th. And keep a look out for the conference agenda…you should have it shortly!


Until then….



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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