September 15, 2017 - RIDING FREE FROM DC: Your Weekly Biker Bulletin from Inside the Beltway

Alerts and other info from the MRF

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September 15, 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 – RPM Act Making Headway in Congress

This week your MRF was front and center (literally, see the pic below) at a hearing discussing the merits and concerns of the Recognizing the Protection of Motorsports Act (RPM Act), H.R.350. The bill would clarify that the anti-tampering provisions applicable to motor vehicles do not apply to motorcycles used for competition in racing. The EPA says they have the authority to enforce any modifications (they call it ‘tampering’) you might make to your bike’s emissions system. We say, uhhh, no, you don’t. And we told the Committee that in written testimony entered into the record. Let me know if you want a copy.

The RPM Act would clarify this which is why we need it to pass. The bill has broad bipartisan support in both the House and Senate, and now we just need a vote. You can help us get there by contacting your Members of Congress and asking them to push for a floor vote. I even made it easy for you. Click the link below and enter your address and zip code to be automatically matched to your elected officials where a pre-drafted letter awaits your signature.


Also, feel free to share this link and message with all your riding buddies that don’t like to be told what to do.

EXECUTIVE & REGULATORY UPDATES – New Leadership at the FHWA, Updated Guidelines on Autonomous Vehicles & NHTSA (finally) Responds to the Tesla Crash

After months of speculation of who would head the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), President Trump nominated Paul Trombino to take the helm. The name may be familiar to some of you - Trombino is the former President of the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) as well as vice-chair of the Transportation Research Board’s Executive Committee. He also headed up the Iowa DoT from 2011-2016. Personally, I don’t know him, but my guess is one of our well-connected Iowa members might? If you know Paul and have a friendly relationship with him, definitely let me know. It will be a critical connection to have over the next 4 years – especially as the FHWA is the Agency that deals with many of our riding issues. One of the major ones? The Motorcyclist Advisory Council or MAC. You remember the MAC, don’t you? That little council that was supposed to be advise the Secretary of Transportation on issues that affect riders? The one that THEY NEGELECTED TO ACTUALLY INCLUDE MOTORCYCLISTS ON? Yeah. That’s the one. Hence why we need the connection to Paul. Know him? Then here’s my number (202-725-5471) so call me, maybe?

A Vision for Safety? More like A Vision for Disaster. This week, the Secretary of Transportation released updated guidelines for automakers concerning the emergence of autonomous vehicles. The new document, “A Vison for Safety” condensed the earlier guidance released last year under the Obama Administration. And many, many people are unhappy with the shortened version. Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) called the guidance "a giveaway to the auto industry that will undoubtedly result in unnecessary lives lost." One of the biggest criticisms is that manufacturers of these types of vehicles only have to VOLUNTARILY submit safety assessments to the government. Like I said – disaster. Oh, and the cherry on top? The guidance once again fails to even MENTION motorcyclists. So we are going to need to be loud and clear about how we feel about that. Stay tuned… I’m preparing a response now that I am going to send out via an MRF Call to Action in the next few weeks.

Remember the Tesla crash last year in Florida? The one involving the automated vehicle? Well the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) finally concluded their investigation and announced their findings this week. The result? NTSB determined that driver error and an over-reliance on automated technology were the primary factors that led to the deadly crash last year with the Tesla being driven with the "Autopilot" function engaged. Documents suggested that while the crash may not have happened if the driver of a tractor-trailer had yielded to the Tesla - and if the Tesla driver had been paying more attention to surrounding traffic - a significant contributing factor was the "operational design" of Autopilot, which allowed the driver a "prolonged disengagement" from operating the vehicle "in ways inconsistent with guidance and warnings from the manufacturer," NTSB said.

What now? The board sent several recommendations to federal regulators and automakers, urging them to do more to data collection from automated vehicles and asking manufacturers to do more to ensure that cars with advanced automated systems aren't being driven in conditions for which they weren't designed. The NTSB also called on automakers to develop technology that better senses when a driver isn't paying attention. Though I rarely agree with the NTSB, I think they hit the nail on the head here. Pending your thoughts and the outcome of our legislative planning session at Meeting of the Minds next week, I think we should echo many of the concerns that the NTSB has raised. We all know it – drivers barely pay attention now! Can you imagine if they think they don’t have to pay attention at all? I’ll give you one guess as to who loses that battle….


This week I talked to one of my favorite MRF-ers. Tom Rahn, aka JINX from Michigan. He wanted to make sure I knew how successful they had been this year in the Michigan legislature. And now I am sharing that with you all. Not only did ABATE of Michigan succeed in getting increased funding for motorcycle awareness education and rider education opportunities, they also lobbied their Governor to sign a bill regarding motorcycle endorsements. Specifically, Public Act 318 specifies that those who operate a motorcycle without a motorcycle endorsement on their driver’s license will pay higher fines. The new law stiffens the penalty for operating a motorcycle without the proper endorsement, helping to ensure both motorists and motorcyclists stay safer on Michigan’s roads. Well-done, Michigan.

Do you have news to share about your state? Shoot me an email and we’ll get the message out


In addition to the busy week we had with all that happened in Washington, we also are elbows-deep in preparations for Meeting of the Minds. Agenda changes, nailing down breakouts, getting bios, details about the fundraisers, preparing presentations, etc., etc. There were some late nights for your MRF staffers…and not the fun kind!

But, it all culminates in approximately one week in Williamsburg. Tiffany and I are excited to see everyone at this year’s MotM. There will be a few changes we are trying out this year and I am anxious to get your feedback. So don’t be shy (not that you will be) and flag me down to have a chat and tell me what you like and don’t like. I promise to be open to your feedback as long as you promise to be open to mine! I hope to see you all next week.

But for those I won’t see, you’re likely to experience a slight lull for the next 2 weeks in MRF communications. As you know, next week I will be occupied with all things MotM and then directly following that event, I’m off to Vermont to attend my first ever National Association of State Motorcycle Safety Administrators Conference. Between these 2 events I’m likely to run out of time to draft the bulletins, but don’t worry, I’ll be back the first week in October with a wrap up of the events and more news out of our nation’s capital. Until then,



Megan Ekstrom
Vice-President of Government Affairs & Public Relations
The Motorcycle Riders Foundation


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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