Reminiscent of the sly wizard in Frank Baum’s classic The Wizard of Oz, chances are most people have probably never heard of the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) program manager of motorcycle safety and safety standards, Michele O’Leary.
Who is Michele O’Leary? A person who wants you to wear a helmet and protective clothing. The person who manages the motorcycle endorsement funds and determines how it gets allocated. But wait there’s even more…
The Statesman Journal has an interesting interview with O’Leary and it provides insight on the person behind the curtain.
First off, O’Leary came to the job with a motorcycle endorsement and owns a motorcycle! It’s good to be able to relate to rider issues and in my book this was a step ahead of the Harley-Davidson CEO (Keith Wandell) when he was hired last year with neither. As a member of the Governor’s Advisory Committee on motorcycle safety, O’Leary has the inside track and has been successful in getting legislation changed to increase fines/penalties on certain types of infractions deemed safety oriented. Is that good?
I became acquainted with O’Leary as part of my safety rants back in April to do anything and everything to encourage the use of the States variable message signs (VMS) for motorcycle awareness. Those neon signs are peppered across the metro area roadways and provide information about traffic congestion and accident reports and in my little world I thought they would make an excellent public safety reminder for drivers to watch out for motorcycles. My request was promptly denied and I got “schooled” on the ‘correct’ usage of variable message signs by the ODOT traffic engineers. Previous posts related to this subject matter at: Motorcycle Safety Tactics, Spotlight On ODOT, Wanna Be Policy Makers.
Many might debate that we need to ‘just say no’ to the ever increasing attempts by the government to manage every aspect of our lives through increased regulation. Others will say it’s a noble cause to help make Oregon motorcycle riders safer. Read the interview, learn who is looking out for you and judge for yourself…
And finally, if the above wasn’t enough to digest… from the edges of the internet come information about a tornado strikes festival celebrating The Wizard of Oz.
Photo courtesy of Picasa.