NCOM Biker Newsbytes
The Impact Of Brexit On Bikers
It’s been two and a half years since the referendum that started Britain on its journey out of the European Union, and now time is running out and “Brexit” is due to take place on March 29, 2019 – deal or no deal. With Parliament squabbling, the prospect of a no-deal Brexit is now looking increasingly likely, and that outcome would affect many things including motorcycles.
You may have heard about the United Kingdom reverting to ‘WTO’ rules when it comes to trade, and British biker website www.visordown explains what that will mean: “The World Trade Organization (WTO) maintains an immense database that records types of products and the import duties that countries or trading blocs impose on them. At the moment we’re part of the EU, which means we can trade with other European countries without incurring any tariffs, but once we leave we’ll be outsiders, subject to the taxes they impose.”
On motorcycles under 250cc, the EU charges an 8% tariff, and on bikes over that size there’s a 6% duty. Meanwhile, motorcycle parts and accessories are taxed at 3.7% and bike tires are subject to a 4.5% import duty.
For consumers, if you’re buying a bike made in the EU — such as a BMW — there will be an extra 6% tax to be incorporated into its cost. Even a UK-based manufacturer, like Triumph, would be subject to an import duty on motorcycle parts from EU suppliers, like their Brembo brakes, so even British-made bikes are likely to become more expensive in a no-deal scenario.
Exports might be less of an immediate concern to the everyday bike buyer, but they have an impact on the motorcycle industry in Britain, and without a deal in place exported bikes would be taxed by the EU at WTO rates.
Of course, once out of the EU the UK government will need to negotiate their own trade deals not only with Europe, but with other trading partners such as Japan, the U.S. and China, but the bottom line is that there’s little prospect that a no-deal Brexit will make bikes or bike-related parts any cheaper.
In the meantime, the uncertainty of Britain’s economic future has negatively impacted motorbike sales in the UK, plummeting 17.9% in December following an overall 2.9% gain in 2018.
Federal Jury Decides Mongols Must Forfeit Logo
In a first-of-its-kind verdict with far-reaching legal implications, a federal jury ruled that the Mongols motorcycle club must forfeit the logo worn by its members, finding in favor of prosecutors’ novel claim that there is a direct link between the club’s crimes and its trademarked insignia.
Last month, the jury in U.S. District Court in Santa Ana, Calif., found the Mongol Nation guilty of racketeering and conspiracy, classifying the group as a criminal organization, and their verdict on Friday, January 11, 2109 was the second phase of a trial that focused on forfeiture of assets in a decade-long quest by the government to dismantle the club.
The verdict will lead to the forfeiture of the group’s legal interest in the word “Mongols” and some of their patches, as well as Mongols items seized during the investigation, prosecutors said. If upheld, this will give the right to any law enforcement officer who spots a club member wearing the logo to stop him and confiscate the branded item.
The trial next moves to a third phase, in which U.S. District Judge David O. Carter will decide how the forfeiture is carried out. He declined to immediately order the logos forfeited and set a hearing next month to address possible First Amendment issues raised by the verdict, agreeing to solicit briefs from a variety of experts, including trademark attorneys, law school professors, civil rights organizations and think tanks.
The judge’s decision highlights the new legal ground being broken in the unprecedented case, which has attracted national attention and is virtually guaranteed to go before the Ninth Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals and perhaps the U.S. Supreme Court.
California To Begin Enforcing Modified Exhaust Penalties
As of January 1, 2019, a modified exhaust on an automobile or motorcycle in California, excessively loud, can no longer be cited as a correctable violation. Previously, if you were cited you had time to get it fixed in order to avoid paying the fine, but Assembly Bill AB1824 carves out an exception for exhaust noise by removing the opportunity to correct the violation and requires a citation to result in a fine only.
AB 1824, which was sponsored by the Assembly Committee on Budget and signed into law by then-Governor Jerry Brown in June of 2018, does not change existing laws pertaining to exhaust noise or sale and installation of aftermarket exhaust systems, but rather amends how excess exhaust noise violations are handled by law enforcement. Beginning this year, a vehicle cited for violating the current exhaust noise law will no longer receive what is commonly known as a “fix-it” ticket. Instead, violations will result in an immediate mandatory monetary fine.
The fine for a California traffic ticket for “a loud exhaust system” is up to $1,000 dollars.
Assembly Bill 2989, the e-scooter bill sponsored by California Assemblyman Heath Flora (R-Ripon), removes the requirement for riders of motorized (electric) standup scooters in the Golden State to wear a bicycle helmet, provided they are 18 or older. The new traffic law also prohibits riding a motorized e-scooter on highways with a speed limit greater than 25 mph, or roads with a speed limit greater than 35 mph, unless it is within a marked bikeway.
Meanwhile, Assembly Bill 3077, sponsored by then-Assemblywoman Anna Caballero (D-Salinas) provides law enforcement the ability to issue a “fix-it ticket” to anyone under 18 who doesn’t wear a helmet while on a bicycle, skateboard or skates. The newly enacted violation is correctable if the minor completes a bicycle safety course and gets a helmet that meets safety standards within 120 days of the ticket being issued.
Utah Becomes First In Nation To Lower DUI Limit To .05 Percent
The Beehive State made history on December 30th by becoming the first state to lower its blood alcohol concentration limit (BAC) for drunken driving to .05 percent, just in time for New Year’s Eve.
Utah lowered the drunken driving BAC from .08, the national limit imposed by former President Bill Clinton in 2000, to .05, making it the nation’s strictest DUI law. Utah’s new law also says anyone who “operates a motor vehicle in a negligent manner causing the death of another” will have committed criminal homicide, which is a felony.
In 1983, Utah was the first state to lower its blood alcohol limit from 0.10 to 0.08 for impaired driving. It would take nearly two decades for every state to follow suit, but as they did, the nation’s rate of alcohol-related traffic deaths dropped 10%. Now, Utah is pioneering the move to lower it once again.
Utah State Representative Norm Thurston (R-Provo) sponsored the bill at the request of the National Transportation Safety Board, which has been urging states to lower DUI limits to 0.05 since 2013.
The American Beverage Institute says the new lower limit targets social drinkers and calls the law an “attack on the restaurant and hospitality industries,” claiming nearly 70% of alcohol-related fatalities in the U.S. are caused by drivers with a much higher BAC of 0.15 and above.
Science Proves That Riding A Motorcycle Is Good For You
Motorcyclists have always said there’s no better prescription for stress than riding a bike, and now a study from the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, at the University of California, Los Angeles, seems to confirm that.
The recent study, funded by Harley-Davidson Inc., demonstrated potential mental and physical benefits of riding, including decreased levels of cortisol, a hormonal marker of stress.
Three UCLA researchers studied more than 50 motorcycle riders in tests that recorded their brain activity and hormone levels before, during and after riding a bike, driving a car and resting. The bike ride resulted in a 28% decrease in biomarkers of stress, according to the researchers.
On average, riding a motorcycle for 20 minutes increased participants’ heart rates by 11% and adrenaline levels by 27%, similar to light exercise, as well as their focus and alertness.
Harley-Davidson says the study’s findings validate what it’s known for more than a century: that riding is good for your mental health.
This means the next time you are sitting at your computer feeling sluggish or that you get home after a long a stressful day, the answer to getting back on track or relieving some of the tension could be to simply go out for a ride…doctor’s orders!
Do Self-Driving Cars ‘See’ Motorcycles?
Lane-splitting is an accepted maneuver by motorcyclists all over the world, but in America it is only practiced by riders in the Golden State. California-based Tesla, whose cars are well represented on California highways, seems to be aware of motorcyclists’ unique filtering capabilities there and has been working to ensure their Autopilot systems detect the presence of a lane-sharing rider in traffic.
However, YouTuber Scott Kubo recently posted a video to test the functionality of motorcycle detection while lane-splitting, and apparently detecting an approaching motorcycle seems to be hit and miss in Version 9 of Tesla’s neural net Autopilot software. It’s clear from the clip that the system confuses motorcycles with cars at times, and can even miss a motorcycle entirely if the motorcycle is moving at a good clip. It’s tough to determine how useful this detection would be in its current state in real-world application.
In the YouTube clip Kubo explains that the current 360° camera system (2.0 and 2.5) can process 200 frames per second (or 200fps) spread across the eight cameras positioned around his Tesla car. So, each camera has an equivalent frame rate of 25fps — a decent digital SLR camera can have over 100fps and an iPhone can shoot at up to 240fps. It might be that the current system just doesn’t have a high enough frame to capture fast moving motorcycles.
Self-driving cars are still a burgeoning field of technology with some bugs to work out, and Tesla warns that Autopilot should not be used without some sort of human interaction, but would you want to be rolling up behind a robotic car knowing that an inattentive driver may not be quick enough to take over the manual controls if they “didn’t see the motorcycle”?
Driverless Car Kills Robotic Pedestrian
In what some are labeling “Robot-on-Robot” crime, an autonomous self-driving Tesla car struck and “killed” a robot roaming down the middle of the roadway in a hit-and-run accident during the recent consumer electronics show in Las Vegas.
Many mainstream news agencies worldwide reported the incident as legitimately newsworthy, though it is generally believed to be an over-the-top PR stunt staged by Russian robotics company Promobot ahead of the CES.
Stay tuned to NCOM Biker Newbytes for “real news”, nothing FAKE, as we have provided bikers with reliable, timely, relevant motorcycle news for over a quarter century!
Dutch Police Call On Parliament To Quickly Ban Outlaw Biker Gangs
Dutch authorities want Parliament to speed up a legislative proposal that will allow the Justice Minister to immediately ban “outlaw motorcycle gangs” emerging in the Netherlands, said police chief Pim Miltenburg, in charge of the motorcycle gang file at the police.
Currently, banning an outlaw motorcycle club is a lengthy job in the Netherlands. A court must decide whether the ‘gang’ is acting in conflict with public order. “The disadvantage of this type of procedure is that we can not arrange it in a short period of time, but it takes months or years before it is completed”, Miltenburg told NLTimes.nl.
The police say they would prefer if the Minister of Justice and Security can ban a motorcycle gang immediately, with a judge testing the ban afterwards.
So far Dutch courts banned two well-known motorcycle clubs, Satudarah and Bandidos. The Public Prosecutor also stated plans to get the Hells Angels and No Surrender banned sometime this year, adding that some two thousand people in the Netherlands now belong to an outlaw motorcycle gang.
Quotable Quote: “Civilization is built on a number of ultimate principles…respect for human life, the punishment of crimes against property and persons, the equality of all good citizens before the law…or, in a word: justice.”
~ Max Nordau (1849 – 1923) Hungarian physician, author and social critic
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