NCOM Biker Newsbytes
Compiled & Edited by Bill Bish,
National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM)
Congressional Bills Reintroduced To Curb Ethanol
Calling the Federal Ethanol Mandate “a Flop,” a bipartisan group of lawmakers have re-introduced two bills in the U.S. House of Representatives to cap the ethanol content of commercial gasoline and decrease the total volume of renewable fuel that must be contained in gasoline on the American market.
“It’s time the ethanol mandate became a thing of the past. While well-intentioned from the start, after a decade of this policy it couldn’t be more obvious that the RFS is a flop,” announced Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-VA) on March 2, 2017 after introducing two bills to alter the Renewable Fuel Standard (RFS), the RFS Elimination Act (H.R. 1314) and the RFS Reform Act (H.R. 1315).
Reps. Goodlatte, Jim Costa (D-CA), Steve Womack (R-AR), and Peter Welch (D-VT) issued a joint statement after reintroducing H.R. 1315; “The Renewable Fuel Standard is a well-intentioned flop…it’s clearer than ever that the federal government’s creation of an artificial market for the ethanol industry has resulted in a domino effect that is hurting people across the country.”
The RFS Elimination Act (H.R. 1314) has the support of 60 bipartisan cosponsors and would repeal the Renewable Fuel Standard which mandates that 36 billion gallons of renewable fuels (primarily corn ethanol) be part of our nation’s fuel supply by 2022. The RFS Reform Act (H.R. 1315), which has the support of 42 cosponsors, “eliminates corn-based ethanol requirements, caps the amount of ethanol that can be blended into conventional gasoline at 10 percent, requires the EPA to set cellulosic biofuels levels at production levels, and decreases the total volume of renewable fuel that must be contained in gasoline sold or introduced into commerce for years 2017-2022.”
Black Box Privacy Protection Act
H.R.736, the “Black Box Privacy Protection Act”, was introduced in the House on January 30, 2017 by Rep. Michael Capuano (D-MA). This bill amends the Automobile Information Disclosure Act to require manufacturers of new automobiles to disclose on the information label affixed to the window of the automobile: (1) the presence and location of an event data recorder (commonly referred to as a “black box”), (2) the type of information recorded and how such information is recorded, and (3) that the recording may be used in a law enforcement proceeding.
The bill sets forth similar requirements for motorcycle manufacturers.
An “event data recorder” is any device or means of technology installed in an automobile that records information such as automobile or motorcycle speed, seatbelt use, application of brakes, or other information pertinent to the operation of the automobile or motorcycle. The bill prohibits the manufacture, sale, offering for sale, or import into the United States of an automobile manufactured after model year of 2016 that is equipped with an event data recorder, unless the consumer can control the recording of information.
Violators are liable to the U.S. government for a civil penalty of up to $5,000 for each violation with a maximum penalty of $35 million for a related series of violations. The event data recorder in an automobile or motorcycle, and any data recorded, shall be considered the property of the owner of the automobile or motorcycle. Retrieval or downloading of recorded data by any other person is unlawful, except: (1) with the owner’s consent, (2) in response to a court order, or (3) by a dealer or automotive technician to service the vehicle. Certain violations are to be treated as unfair or deceptive acts or practices under the Federal Trade Commission Act.
Idaho Senate Kills Anti-Profiling Bill That House Unanimously Endorsed
Idaho senators killed a proposal outlawing motorcycling profiling, which had passed the House unanimously, defeating H.B.123 on the Senate floor by a vote of 22-13 on March 15.
Several senators said they’d spoken with their local sheriffs or other law enforcement and learned there had been no complaints of motorcycle profiling, that law enforcement opposed the bill, and one senator testified that his local sheriff said if the bill became law a motorcycle gang member wearing colors who was stopped for probable cause would get a plausible defense.
The bill would have banned motorcycle profiling by state or local law enforcement, which it defines as “the arbitrary use of the fact that a person rides a motorcycle or wears motorcycle-related paraphernalia as a factor in deciding to stop and question, take enforcement action, arrest or search a person or vehicle.”
In 2011, the state of Washington passed a further-reaching law, which also included requirements for training for law enforcement. Advocates reported that complaints about motorcycle profiling there dropped 90 percent after the anti-profiling law took effect. In 2016, Maryland became the second state to enforce such anti-profiling measures.
“This bill is consistent with good police practices, which relies on conduct for making a stop,” said Senator Jeff Agenbroad (R-Nampa), the bill’s Senate sponsor in an interview with The Spokesman-Review newspaper.
Washington Activists Rally For Lane-Splitting
Motorcycle advocates rallied in Olympia on Friday, March 17 in support of state Senate Bill 5378, which would allow motorcycles to go in-between cars stuck in traffic, or “split lanes.”
Some motorcyclists are demanding a public hearing. The bill has passed in the Senate with a bipartisan majority but has since been stuck in a House committee for weeks. Motorcyclists want a vote on it, and before that can happen, it needs a public hearing.
The issue has created a firestorm on social media, pitting many drivers against motorcycle riders who want to see the legislation pass in Washington State.
“In most cases we can split a lane and not interfere with anybody or not hit anybody, and we can move on right down the road,” Andy McAfee, a member of Spanaway ABATE, told CBS-affiliate KREM-2 news.
Basically, the law would allow motorcyclists to ride between lanes of cars in heavy traffic. They would have to keep their speeds below 35 mph and go no more than 10 mph above flow of traffic.
If passed, the legislation would also make vehicle drivers guilty of an infraction if they intentionally block a motorcycle from splitting lanes.
Currently, lane splitting is only legal in California, though similar measures have recently been introduced in Texas (S.B.288), Oregon (S.B.385) and Hawaii (H.B.727).
Georgia Bill Would Allow Motorcycles To Filter Forward At Signals
Introduced February 27, House Bill 490 in Georgia would allow the operator of a motorcycle to “overtake and pass in the same lane occupied by the vehicle being overtaken under certain conditions”:
- The vehicle being overtaken is stationary in traffic awaiting the change of a traffic-control signal;
- The motorcycle is not traveling more than ten miles per hour; and
- The motorcycle is being maneuvered to be placed in front of stationary traffic or to gain access to an adjacent turning lane.
Utah Legislature Votes To Require Helmets For Riders Up To Age 21
A bill to newly require motorcyclists ages 18, 19 and 20 to wear helmets has passed the Utah legislature and is on its way to Governor Gary Herbert for his signature or veto. Under current Utah law, motorcyclists under 18 years old are required to wear helmets.
The Utah House voted 43-30 on Wednesday, March 8 to approve S.B.159. The Senate previously approved it 17-12. The bill is sponsored by Senator Brian Shiozawa (R-Cottonwood Heights), an emergency room doctor who says he has seen far too many traumatic head injuries from motorcycle crashes among young adults.
But several lawmakers argued against the proposal, questioning the value of restricting personal freedoms in the name of safety and describing the bill as “legislative creep.”
Arizona Helmet Law Decisively Defeated
“In Arizona, you don’t mess with regulations on who can ride in the back of a pickup truck, and you don’t force a helmet on a motorcyclists’ head,” stated the Arizona Republic newspaper in reporting the demise of a Pay-to-Play helmet law proposal in committee. “That was made clear Wednesday (Jan 18), when a bill to mandate helmets got its first public consideration in years and promptly died.”
Even the Democratic colleagues of the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Randy Friese (D-Tucson), voted against House Bill 2046.
“Although no one could immediately pinpoint the last time the issue came before a committee, the prior proposal inspired bikers to circle the Capitol mall, longtime staffers said. The rumble from the engines was so loud it was heard inside House and Senate chambers and shook office partitions.”
Bikers decked out in leather and bandanas told lawmakers the greater peril came from cars and trucks and said more education for all drivers is the better solution. The eight members of the House Transportation Committee sided with the bikers, voting unanimously to reject the bill.
H.B.2046 would have imposed a fine of $500 on violators, with $300 of the fine going directly to a fund for head trauma patients, and in a twist, proposed that riders could pay a fee when registering their motorcycle allowing them to purchase an exemption to the law.
Driverless Big Rigs Nearly Road Ready
Self-driving big rigs that improve logistics, cost savings and road safety, could be on freeways even sooner than autonomous passenger cars, which have been hogging most of the limelight.
The process of automating long-haul freight trucks — the behemoths that deliver food and goods, often to places airplanes, boats and trains can’t or won¹t go — is actually easier than it is for cars. This is because these trucks spend most of their road time on open highways, where there is less stopping and fewer traffic rules than in areas with pedestrians, according to Anthony Levandowski, CEO of Otto, an autonomous-trucking company he co-founded early last year. Speaking at the annual Mobile World Congress in Barcelona this week, Levandowski, a former software engineer on Google¹s self-driving car project, added that despite racking up only 5.6 percent of all the miles driven in the U.S., trucks are found to be at fault for nearly 9.5 percent of the country¹s driving fatalities. Many proponents of self-driving technology believe it can reduce human error, often brought on by fatigue.
Otto, which Uber bought in August 2016, also wants to enable driverless commercial trucks to operate in carefully synchronized fleets. “Truck Platooning,” explains Jim Elgin, Chairman of ABATE of Ohio, “is a fast track issue” using radar and vehicle-vehicle (V2V) technologies to form and maintain close-headway formation between two or more in-lane vehicles. Smart tailgating, but “The big question,” asks Elgin, “is it Motorcycle-Friendly or not?”
Truck convoys are nothing new, of course, but a computerized driving system could theoretically let them safely drive even closer together, reducing the wind drag that makes engines work harder and burn more gas. For obvious reasons these trucks could also stay on the road for longer stretches, giving drivers some much-needed downtime rather than keeping them at the wheel well past exhaustion.
Own Easyriders Magazine
“I AM OVER THE HILL!!!,” exclaims 76-year old Joe Teresi, owner and publisher of Easyriders magazine, among other titles. The past 46 years have “been a HELL of a ride,” but Teresi is ready to “ride off into the sunset” and rather than post an auction notice “I would prefer to sell to or through someone reading this.” For more info, visit www.PaisanoAuction.com.
NCOM Convention Shuffles Into Reno Casino
The 32nd annual NCOM Convention will be held Mother’s Day weekend, May 11-14, 2017 at the Silver Legacy Resort-Casino, located at 407 N. Virginia St. in Reno, Nevada so reserve your room now for a special NCOM rate of $99 by calling (800) 687-8733 and mention “GNCOM17”.
To pre-register for the 2017 NCOM Convention, contact the National Coalition of Motorcyclists at (800) 525-5355 or visit www.ON-A-BIKE.com.
QUOTABLE QUOTE: “Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot, nothing is going to get better. It’s not.”
~ Dr. Seuss, author and illustrator (1904-1991)
The AIM/NCOM Motorcycle E-News Service is 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 www.ON-A-BIKE.com.