Compiled & Edited by Bill Bish,
National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM)
U.S. Senate Takes A Stand Against Police Profiling Of Motorcyclists
The United States Senate has approved the Motorcycle Profiling Resolution (Senate Resolution 154) without amendment by unanimous consent on Dec 11, addressing concerns of motorcyclists across the country regarding law enforcement discriminating against bikers in traffic stops, citations and arrests.
This bipartisan and bicameral resolution (H.Res. 318 companion in the House) could provide a national solution to the discriminatory profiling of motorcyclists over mode of transportation or style of dress in enforcing the law. Several states have considered bills to prohibit police from profiling motorcyclists, and Washington became the first state to pass such an anti-profiling law in 2011, followed by Maryland in 2016.
The two companion measures in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives, which are nonbinding and do not have the force of law, seek to curb profiling of motorcycle riders at the federal level by “Promoting awareness of motorcycle profiling and encouraging collaboration and communication with the motorcycle community and law enforcement officials to prevent instances of profiling.”
S.Res. 154 and H.Res. 318 also “urges State law enforcement officials to include statements condemning motorcycle profiling in written policies and training materials.”
U.S. Senator Ron Johnson (R-WI) spearheaded the measure in the Senate, and recently tweeted; “Pleased the Senate passed S.Res. 154 to encourage states to take steps to prevent profiling of #motorcycle riders. Hopefully this will lead to more efforts to raise awareness of and address motorcycle profiling.”
As defined by the Congressional resolutions, “motorcycle profiling” means “the illegal use of the fact that a person rides a motorcycle or wears motorcycle related apparel as a factor in deciding to stop and question, take enforcement action, arrest, or search a person or vehicle with or without legal basis under the Constitution of the United States.”
Concerned riders are now urged to contact their Congressional delegations in the U.S. House of Representatives and encourage them to join their Senate colleagues by likewise passing House Resolution 318.
Government Wins First Round In Trial To Seize Mongols Patch
For over a decade, federal law enforcement authorities have been testing a unique legal tactic to take down the Mongols Motorcycle Club by seizing their trademarked logo under asset forfeiture laws, and now a federal jury in Santa Ana, California has found the Mongols guilty of racketeering and conspiracy, setting up a second phase of the trial during which the government will seek to seize control of the club’s “intellectual property” and thereby ban members from wearing their unifying “colors” or patches.
Federal prosecutors will ask the judge to fine the Mongol Nation — the West Covina, CA entity that legally owns the club trademark — and order it to forfeit rights to the identifying logo worn on the bikers’ vests.
Since the case is focused on the Mongols organization, no specific individuals are facing jail or prison time, but the government’s attempt to defrock club members is aimed at dismantling the club by destroying their identity and thus its allure.
During the five-week trial that ended Thursday, December 13, 2018 prosecutors testified that the Mongols were a violent criminal enterprise. According to the Associated Press, in finding the Mongols guilty of racketeering, jurors decided that the motorcycle club itself is a criminal organization.
The Mongols have denied that they are a criminal enterprise, arguing that the organization itself isn’t responsible for crimes committed by individual members or in self-defense.
Defense attorney Joseph A. Yanny argued that individual club members may have committed criminal acts but the club is blameless and kicks out members under a “zero-tolerance” policy for such activity.
“They won the battle, but they did not win the war,” said David Santillan, the current president of the Mongols, said of the government after the jury verdict.
In 2008, dozens of members were charged with racketeering based on an investigation in which agents from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives infiltrated the club, and a judge ruled that they should forfeit the Mongols trademark but later reversed the decision. The new case was filed in 2013, and it was thrown out two years later by U.S. District Judge David O. Carter, but he was overruled on appeal.
Now, the same jury will return to court Jan. 8, as the focus of the trial shifts to potential seizures from the Mongols. Judge Carter, who is presiding over the trial, will make the final ruling on exactly what will be seized. If the judge ultimately approves the seizure of the trademark, he would also determine exactly what the government could do with it, including whether they could literally take the Mongols jackets off members’ backs.
Motorcycle clubs across the country are watching this test case closely. “They take our patch,” Santillan told the New York Times, “and then they take all the clubs’ patches.”
NCOM Convention To Address Bikers’ Rights Issues
Topics such as Motorcycle Profiling and “Save the Patch” will be among the many issues of concern to our nation’s motorcycle community that will be addressed during the upcoming 34th annual NCOM Convention, to be held Mother’s Day weekend, May 10-12, 2019 at the DoubleTree by Hilton in Orlando, Florida. Hundreds of bikers’ rights activists from the ranks of motorcycle rights organizations (MROs) and Confederations of Clubs (COCs), as well as independents and other allied riders will gather to discuss the concerns of all riders.
Agenda items will cover various legal and legislative issues, with Special Meetings for Veterans Affairs, Women in Motorcycling, Clean & Sober Roundtable and World of Sport Bikes, as well as the Christian Unity Conference and Confederation of Clubs Patch Holders Meeting. Additional seminars will be conducted regarding Restoration of Rights, Leadership 101 and “Share the Road” Motorcycle Safety.
All motorcyclists are welcome, and to pre-register for the 2019 NCOM Convention contact the National Coalition of Motorcyclists at (800) ON-A-BIKE or visit www.ON-A-BIKE.com.
Cell Phone Bans Are Saving Motorcyclists’ Lives
Laws to ban or curb drivers’ use of cell phones and other handheld devices have greatly reduced the rate of fatalities for motorcyclists, according to a new study by faculty at Florida Atlantic University and the University of Miami. The study’s findings, recently published in Social Science & Medicine, show that states with moderate to strong bans have motorcycle fatality rates that differ by as much as 11% compared to states with no bans.
The study originally intended to focus on overall traffic fatality rates involving cell phone use while driving. When it comes to car vs. car crashes, it’s not clear that partial or total bans on phone use while driving has had any effect on fatalities, due largely to the high level of crash safety built into modern cars. Such is not the case when it comes to motorcycles, however. To the researchers’ surprise, data from the study reflects that states that have either a partial or total ban on cell phone use while driving have a lower number of motorcycle fatalities compared to states with no ban at all.
The researchers of this study argue that policymakers should consider strengthening texting and handheld cell phone bans, as well as enforcement, to improve safety and save motorcyclist lives. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, using a hand-held cell phone while driving is illegal in just sixteen states plus Washington, D.C.
“In the case of motorcycles, these laws seem to be effective,” said study co-author Gulcin Gumus, Ph.D., an associate professor in health administration in the Department of Management Programs at FAU’s College of Business. “While it’s not clear that these laws have had an impact on reducing the overall number of traffic fatalities, when we focus specifically on motorcycles, we find that these laws are having a major impact in reducing deaths among motorcycle riders.”
Record Numbers Of Women Are Riding Motorcycles
More and more women are moving from the back seat of a motorcycle to behind the handlebars, with the number of female riders doubling over the past decade from one in ten in 2009 to one in five today.
A study by the Motorcycle Industry Council (MIC) found that women now make up 19% of motorcycle owners, with even greater ownership among younger generations. The survey found that among Millennials (Generation Y, born from 1985-2004), 26% of motorcycle owners were women. Among Gen X (those born 1965-1984), 22% were women.
“As the number of Boomers and mature motorcyclists shrink and are replaced by newer riders, we could soon be looking at a solid 25% of motorcycle owners being female,” said Andria Yu, MIC director of communications.
The MIC polled 2,472 adults nationwide for the 2018 Motorcycle/ATV Owner Survey. For decades, the MIC says its surveys have served as the census of motorcycling, and have tracked a steady growth in the percentage of women who own bikes.
The MIC says the 2018 owner survey also found that women motorcycle owners spend, on average, $574 a year on tires, routine repairs, maintenance, replacement parts, and accessories and modifying equipment, compared with $497 by men.
Motorcycling has grown in popularity and acceptance in American culture in recent decades, which the MIC says is reflected in their survey. It found that 66% of women motorcycle owners say their family and friends would have a positive attitude toward motorcycles and scooters.
However, total ridership is struggling according to USA Today, and overall new motorcycle sales have been stagnant in the U.S. since the Great Recession, with annual sales peaking in 2006.
London Motorcyclists Face Surcharges
In a bid to improve air quality, the ULEZ (Ultra Low Emission Zone) will launch April 8, 2019, and drivers or riders of older vehicles in London’s central congestion zone will thereon face a round-the-clock charge of £12.50 per day ($15.80 USD).
ULEZ has been described as the world’s most radical crackdown on vehicle emissions, and will apply to motorcycles that fail to meet “Euro 4” standards (those registered before 2007).
The rider group We Ride London is campaigning against this unfair and counter-intuitive tax, stating that “Motorcycles and scooters are part of the solution to reducing pollution, congestion and overcrowding but we continue to be ignored.”
The charge will apply 24/7 and in October 2021 will be extended to the area inside the North and South Circular roads – multiplying the charge zone by 28 times.
Man Claims Discrimination In Canada’s Helmet Exemption Law
Earlier this year, the province of Alberta in Canada became the third province to pass a law exempting the Sikh community from wearing motorcycle helmets — north of the U.S. border, helmets are mandatory on a motorcycle. One Albertan, however, strongly believes the exemption is discriminatory and that if Sikhs don’t have to wear a helmet, neither should he.
Troy Fandrick from Medicine Hat, Alberta, believes that the exemption granted earlier this year is discriminatory. As a non Sikh, he his forced by law to wear a helmet and his claim is that if a small percentage of the population is allowed to ride without a helmet, everyone else should be allowed as well.
Fandrick explains that his issue doesn’t lie in the fact that Sikhs have been granted the exemption: his main complaint is “why them and not me”? He points a finger at Transport Canada for imposing a rule that doesn’t apply to everyone and that in this case, he is being denied equal rights.
“The sole distinction in the law is racial and ethnic in nature. There’s no additional qualification,” Fandrick told Medicine Hat News, claiming that he has already been pulled over — and fined — three times because he wasn’t wearing a helmet.
“I just want equal rights,” says Fandrick, who is currently gathering funding via a GoFundMe page to enlist the services of a lawyer interested in taking on his cause.
Quotable Quote: “Every man is guilty of all the good he didn’t do.”
~ Voltaire (1694-1778), French historian and philosopher
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.