Week of November 21st - Riding Free from DC

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11/24/2019 8:37:43 AM
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Week of November 21st - Riding Free from DC


RIDING FREE FROM DC: 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.


Full Week in DC ahead of Thanksgiving Recess

Lawmakers have been busy on Capitol Hill this week ahead of the Thanksgiving Recess.  We have a “stuffed” update this week.  Since Congress will be out of session next week, you will not receive a “Riding Free from D.C.” next week.  We at the MRF want to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving!


On Monday, Congressmen Chris Pappas (D-NH) and Don Young (R-AK) led a charge to repeal the FAST Act rescission, protecting states from a $7.6 billion loss in highway funding.  The Appropriations Committee approved the provision in the appropriations continuing resolution that was passed on Tuesday. As we reported a few weeks ago, Congress was faced with a deadline to pass appropriation bills to fund the government to avoid another government shut down before Thanksgiving.  In a stop-gap measure, the House and Senate passed a continuing resolution that funds the government through December 20th. While Congress has nearly averted yet another lapse in federal funding, congressional leaders still lack a fiscal 2020 funding plan beyond the new deadline.

Transportation Countdown
DOT appropriations run out in 28 days
FAST Act highway authorization expires in 314 days






On Wednesday during the Senate’s AV hearing just south of the Capitol at the U.S. Department of Transportation, your MRF was also in attendance at the National Highway Traffic Administration’s (NHTSA) Research Public Meeting.  NHTSA’s Vehicle Safety Research and Behavioral Safety Research offices presented information on activities related to the Agency's research programs over two days.  Motorcycle research made it on the agenda for day one, but unfortunately, we found ourselves in NHTSA’s “Vulnerable and Other Road Users” category.  (SIGH) The first presentation covered “Motorcyclists’ Attitudes on Using High-Visibility Gear To Improve Conspicuity” which was conducted by the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) in conjunction with NHTSA.  I held my breath as Amy Berning, Research Psychologist with NHTSA, began the presentation by standing up to put on a high-vis jacket in front of the packed room (Watch the video here). We reported on this study early this summer when it was first released, but a summary of that conclusion is… MOTORCYCLISTS DO NOT WANT TO WEAR HIGH-VIS GEAR.   However, you can read the full report in the link above and make your own conclusion.


I was pleased to learn that for the FIRST TIME EVER, NHTSA is in the infant stages of beginning research on “Motorcycle Conspicuity to light vehicle advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) Capabilities”  interact with one another. While there is no timeline on when this research will get to the testing or conclusion stage, we at the MRF will continue to monitor the progress of this research as it is invaluable to either confirm or ease our fears that autonomous vehicle (AV) technology can adequately detect and respond to the 8-million motorcycles on our nation’s roadways.  I recorded the remarks from Rob Heilman, Division Chief, Intelligent Technologies Research with NHTSA, to make sure I could share with all of you all of the details.  You can watch his presentation here.  If any news or information becomes available on this topic, we will pass it along to all of you.




Autonomous Vehicle Hearings:
This week two separate hearings were conducted in Washington, D.C. on Autonomous Vehicle (AV) technology and safety.
On Tuesday, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) conducted a board meeting to review the findings of an investigation into a fatal AV crash involving a pedestrian in Arizona last Spring. The results of the NTSB are eye-opening and point to the need for serious review of AV safety protocols. Some of the findings include that the AV software did not properly identify the victim as a pedestrian, it did not adequately assess safety risks and the operator of the vehicle was watching a TV show on her phone and was not watching the road. Additionally, the NTSB cited an “inadequate safety culture” at Uber.
On Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation held a hearing entitled  Highly Automated Vehicles: Federal Perspectives on the Deployment of Safety Technology.  This hearing allowed Senators to question representatives of the Department of Transportation, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the National Transportation Safety Board about AV technology. The MRF would like to specifically thank Senator John Thune (R-SD) and Senate Gary Peters (D-MI) for their questions and statements that specifically mentioned motorcycles during the hearing.
As you know, the MRF is committed to ensuring AV technology is required to read and react to motorcyclists. These hearing demonstrate that there are still many questions surrounding the safety of AV technology. The MRF believes that Congress must specifically mandate that motorcycles are included in any regulations surrounding AVs. We will continue to educate lawmakers so that motorcycles are not forgotten in the rush to deploy this new technology to our shared roadways. 
Click here to learn more about the AV hearings, read quotes by Senators Thune and Peters highlighted in yellow, and view the MRF’s Press Release

Motorcyclist Advisory Council:
Thursday morning, a bipartisan group of lawmakers introduced H.R. 5234, the Motorcyclist Advisory Council Reauthorization Act. The Motorcyclist Advisory Council (MAC) was first established by Congress in 2005 and reauthorized in 2015. The MAC is responsible for providing advice and recommendations concerning infrastructure issues related to motorcyclist safety, including barrier design, road design, construction, and maintenance practices, and the architecture and implementation of intelligent transportation system technologies.

If passed, the bill introduced this week would make common-sense changes to the MAC.  Some of these changes include:

  • Reauthorizing the MAC for six years. This ensures that the MAC has an established timeline for its work.
  • Requiring that the MAC submit a biennial recommendations report. At a minimum, three reports on motorcycle policy will now be required to be submitted to the Department of Transportation and Congress for review. 
  • Clarifying the Membership of the MAC.  This bill sets aside specific seats on the 12-member board for motorcycle riders and advocates. For example, one seat is reserved for each of the following, a national motorcyclist foundation, a national motorcyclist association and a national motorcycle manufacturing association.

These changes mirror many of the MRF’s legislative priorities for the MAC as set forth at this year’s Meeting of the Minds. 
The MRF would like to thank Congressman Mike Gallagher (R-WI), Congressman Troy Balderson (R-OH), Congressman Chris Pappas (D-NH) and Congressman Harley Rouda (D-CA) for their leadership on this important issue to motorcyclists. The MRF would also like to thank Harley Davidson, the American Motorcyclist Association, ABATE of Wisconsin and ABATE of Ohio for their work on getting this bill introduced.
Click here to learn more about the MAC bill, read quotes and view the MRF’s Press Release.


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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