News and other info from NCOM

3/16/2011 6:58:40 AM
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Ride Free, Ride Often



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)




Motorcycle riders across the country are anxiously awaiting a decision from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York which they hope will declare New York ’s “motorcycle only” roadblocks to be unconstitutional. The so-called “safety checkpoints”, which target well-known motorcycle events, force motorcyclists to leave the roadway, regardless of any wrongdoing, and have their persons and property inspected for equipment violations, proper paperwork, DUI and stolen VIN numbers. The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) is now providing Federal funding for law enforcement to conduct such motorcycle-only checkpoints nationwide despite objections raised by members of Congress and legal challenges from the biker community.


The New York lawsuit is the first to challenge the constitutionality of motorcycle checkpoints. The plaintiffs are being represented by Proner & Proner, led by N.Y. Aid to Injured Motorcyclists (A.I.M.) Attorney Mitch Proner, a motorcycle-riding lawyer who has a long history of doing “pro bono” (free) legal work to protect the rights of motorcyclists. The Proner law firm commenced the lawsuit on behalf of four motorcyclists who were detained at two separate checkpoints, as well as representing the interests of ABATE of New York and the National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM).


The checkpoints in question are funded by a grant from the New York Governor’s Traffic Safety Committee and the troopers who work them are paid overtime. Although the stated purpose of the checkpoints is to promote safety, the majority of the more than a thousand tickets which were issued during the first year of the checkpoints had nothing to do with safety and instead focused on non-safety violations such as loud pipes. The written guidelines for the checkpoints specifically state that one of the purposes of the checkpoints is to look for stolen and forged VINs and the police readily admit that they often have undercover members of their gang and auto theft units working the checkpoints looking for signs of criminal activity.


According to Proner, the Supreme Court of the United States has repeatedly made it clear that any roadway checkpoint whose primary purpose is general crime control constitutes an unreasonable search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment and is presumptively unconstitutional. Notwithstanding that fact, the progress reports which the police prepared on the checkpoints specifically state that the grant funds are used “for overtime for intelligence gathering and the subsequent criminal and traffic enforcement.” The police admit that the checkpoints, which focus only on equipment violations and forged and stolen VINs, do not address any of the major causes of motorcycle accidents such as reckless driving, driver inattentiveness and alcohol impairment.


The case, Wagner et al. v. The County of Schenectady , et al. could wind up in the U.S. Supreme Court. The future of motorcyclists’ rights hangs in the balance.




Even as Georgia police prepared to launch the nation’s first federally-funded motorcycle-only checkpoints during Daytona Bike Week, lawmakers in Washington were taking steps to cut federal funding for the controversial practice.


Wisconsin Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner, Paul Ryan and Tom Petri introduced House Resolution 904 on March 3rd that would prohibit the secretary of transportation from providing funds to state and local governments for the use of motorcycle-only traffic checkpoints.


“The first step in motorcycle crash prevention should be rider education and increased awareness. Taxpayer money should not be spent on helmet checkpoints that do not prevent crashes," Petri said in a news release. "Also, it's outrageously intrusive. Nobody is suggesting pulling cars off the road for unscheduled inspections, so why are motorcycle riders being harassed?"


“We stand in solidarity against the unconstitutional use of motorcycle-only checkpoints being implemented in Georgia, and may be coming to your state soon,” said Escondido Paul, National Lt. Commander of the US Defenders, in issuing a Call To Action (CTA) urging all motorcyclists to contact their federal officials to “solicit their support against grant money being used by the Federal Government to induce other States to participate in such discriminatory actions!”


In related news, bills have been recently introduced in New Hampshire (HB 148) and California (AB 1047) to prohibit any state law enforcement agency from accepting federal funding to establish motorcycle-only roadside checkpoints.




Freedom of Speech was considered by our Founding Fathers to be our most important Constitutional right, which is why it is the First Amendment to the Bill of Rights, but the U.S. Supreme Court’s recent ruling favoring the rights of hateful protestors over the dignity of a military funeral doesn’t sit well with some motorcyclists.  In particular, the Patriot Guard Riders were formed in 2005 to protect the funerals of fallen warriors and shield mourners from the incendiary demonstrations waged by Westboro Baptist Church , which claims soldiers’ deaths are “divine retribution” for American tolerance of homosexuality.


The High Court ruled 8-1 on Wednesday, March 9th with only Justice Sam Alito dissenting, that the First Amendment protects hateful protests at military funerals, despite the pain they cause grieving families. “Our soldiers fought to give Westboro the right to free speech,” said Mike Todd, a member of the Patriot Guard Riders from Reading , Michigan , noting the irony.


Although describing the court’s holding as narrow, Chief Justice John Roberts wrote for the majority, saying of free speech; “It can stir people to action, move them to tears of both joy and sorrow, and -- as it did here -- inflict great pain … we cannot react to that pain by punishing the speaker.”  He said the national commitment to free speech requires protection of “even hurtful speech on public issues to ensure that we do not stifle public debate.”


The case arose from a protest at the funeral of a Marine who had died in Iraq , Lance Cpl. Matthew Snyder. As with hundreds of other funerals, members of the Westboro Baptist Church of Topeka, Kan., appeared with signs bearing such messages as “Thank God for Dead Soldiers” and “America Is Doomed”.


Albert Snyder sued regarding the intentional infliction of emotional distress at the funeral of his son, and won an $11 million jury award that was later reduced by a judge to $5 million, but the verdict was overturned by a federal appeals court that ruled the Constitution shielded the church members from liability. The Supreme Court’s decision upholds the appeals court ruling that threw out a $5 million judgment to the dead Marine’s father.


Dissenting Justice Alito strongly disagreed, likening the protest to fighting words, not protected by the First Amendment.  ”Our profound national commitment to free and open debate is not a license for the vicious verbal assault that occurred in this case,” he wrote.


Westboro’s antagonistic tactics have resulted in a torrent of legislative activity rarely rivaled in the annals of First Amendment history, with 41 states and the U.S. Congress having passed laws limiting funeral protests, usually establishing minimum distances and time constraints, while numerous municipalities have also passed funeral-protest ordinances at the local level.



With gasoline prices approaching $4 a gallon, commuters are turning to more fuel efficient motorcycles to save money.  Sales and interest are up across the country, and many motorcycle dealers anticipate the popularity of motorcycles to increase even more.


Signs that the two-wheeled world is getting back on the road to recovery are coming from not only improving motorcycle sales, but also by the financial health of bikers themselves. Fewer bikers appear to be making late payments or defaulting on their motorcycle loans, according to a report issued by Fitch Ratings, a credit rating agency working with Harley-Davidson’s Financial Services (HDFS) division.


In addition, the report also notes the improving market for previously owned motorcycles is again gaining strength, in part due to reduced inventory levels at dealers. This would allow for any repossessed motorcycles to be sold for a better price than they may have the year before.




New Jersey motorcycle dealers are rejoicing that they can now sell bikes on Sundays. Governor Chris Christie signed a bill into law allowing the Sunday motorcycle sales on March 3; though the measure does not affect the state’s ban on Sunday automobile sales, nor does it apply in Bergen County where Blue Laws continue to prohibit the sale of most nonessential items on Sundays.


State Senator Donald Norcross introduced the legislation after a Camden County dealership complained about losing customers to stores in nearby Pennsylvania and Delaware as a result of the Sunday ban, adding that most motorcycle buyers tend to make purchases on weekends.


“With our dealerships closed for business on Sunday, consumers were heading across the river to make their purchases at bike shops in neighboring states,” said Norcross. “Especially in this economy, we need to give businesses the tools they need to remain competitive.”


Motorcycle businesses in Indiana and Wisconsin have also been trying to overturn bans on Sunday bike sales.




Newly-elected U.S. Rep. Allen West (R-FL), who was accused by his incumbent foe of belonging to a “biker gang” because he was supported by the South Florida Confederation of Clubs, has become one of the newest members of the Congressional Motorcycle Caucus.


The bi-partisan caucus is comprised of members of Congress who are passionate about motorcycling and who work to promote the interests of motorcyclists. The CMSC has actively highlighted the safety of motorcyclists by passing Congressional Resolutions supporting the goals of May is Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month, drawing attention to Ride to Work Day and ensuring that motorcycle safety is remembered in the transportation reauthorization process.


"I'm very pleased to be able to join the Congressional Motorcycle Caucus to work with my esteemed colleagues on issues related to motorcycling," said West, who is indeed an active motorcyclist who contributes political articles for a local South Florida biker magazine “Wheels on the Road”.


West joins with fellow U.S. Representatives Tim Walberg (R-MI), Tim Griffin (R-AR), Reid Ribble (R-WI) and Jeff Denham (R-CA) as the most recent motorcycle enthusiasts on the caucus. Other members include Reps. G.K. Butterfield (D-NC), Michael Conaway (R-TX), John Duncan (R-TN), Bob Filner (D-CA), Randy Forbes (R-VA), Walter Jones (R-NC), Doug Lamborn (R-CO) and Tim Walz (D-MN).


Reps. Michael Burgess (R-TX) and Gabrielle Giffords (D-AZ) founded the Congressional Motorcycle Safety Caucus on June 26, 2009 and currently serve as co-chairs of the caucus, despite a gunman’s vicious attack on Giffords.


Reps. West and Giffords were both recently selected by the NCOM Board of Directors to receive the coveted Silver Spoke Award - Legislative at the upcoming 26th Annual NCOM Convention over Mother’s Day weekend May 5-8, 2011 at the Hyatt Regency in Albuquerque , New Mexico . For further information, or to register for the NCOM Convention, visit or call (800) 525-5355.




Chances are the car that cut you off in traffic was driven by an attorney, or a judge, or government worker or maybe even a dog groomer, according to a new study listing the most dangerous drivers by profession.


A study conducted by an online insurance agency found that lawyers snared the No. 1 spot on a Top 10 list of “Most Dangerous Drivers By Profession,” with 44% claiming a prior accident when receiving a car insurance comparison quote from Findings were based on accident claims as a percentage of quotes, the agency said, and used its proprietary data.


Here is the full list’s study of most dangerous driver’s by profession: 1-Attorney/Judge; 2-Financial professionals; 3-Government worker (GS6); 4-Bartender or Waiter; 5-Business Professionals; 6-Dog Groomer; 7-Marketing/Advertising professionals; 8-Barber/Stylist; 9-Coach; and 10-Nurse.


So why did these folks rank so high? Distraction.


That was apparently the opposite for those on the other end of the study, deemed the least dangerous drivers. To that end are athletes and homemakers, the agency said. “Professions that demand multi-tasking - being on the phone, moving fast on a tight schedule - are prone to more distractions and, from there, more accidents,” said Sam Belden, vice president at “On the other hand, though the job of a homemaker demands multi-tasking, young children are often along for any car ride. And when children are involved, people tend to take their time and use greater caution.”



QUOTABLE QUOTE:In matters of conscience the law of majority has no place.”

Mohandas “Mahatma” Gandhi (1869-1948) Hindu Spiritual and Political leader





As we prepare to go to press, NCOM has just learned that longtime bikers’ rights activist Dave Zien, a former Wisconsin state senator and record-setting long distance rider, was involved in an early morning crash on Sunday, March 13th while attending Daytona Bike Week, and was taken by helicopter to the Tallahassee Memorial Medical Center and placed in intensive care.


According to news accounts, an SUV traveling in front of Zien on Interstate 10 attempted to change lanes, lost control and flipped onto its side. Zien, 59, was unable to avoid the overturned vehicle. Early reports indicate that Zien lost part of his left leg and suffered a broken hip.


Zien is a longtime member of the NCOM Legislative Task Forcewho fought against helmet laws and for bikers’ rights during his 13 years in the state Senate, from 1993 to 2006. He's been inducted into both the Sturgis Motorcycle Hall of Fame and the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame and rode more than 1 million miles on a 1991 Harley-Davidson Sport Glide.


Please keep Dave in your thoughts and prayers, and NCOM wishes him all the best on his road to recovery.


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