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Rowena Crest - Mayer State Park

Rowena Crest – Mayer State Park

“I want to work in a cube behind a desk while my friends are out exploring the world on motorcycles this summer!”

…Said no one ever.

It sounds crazy when it’s phrased that way.  I know this might surprise you, but being a motorcycle blogger has nothing to do with sitting in a dimly lit room hunched over a laptop slowly developing carpal tunnel while eating Cheetos and drinking Diet Coke.  I know… Shocking.

Bikers For Christ Meeting

Bikers For Christ Meeting

It’s about capturing those wind in the face moments from the road.

We’ve had a truly incredible run of good weather here in the Northwest.  Summertime is in full swing and these warm, sunny days have the roads filled with bikers.  It’s possibly record setting for the number of days without rain in July and last Saturday I had the chance to put on 200+ miles riding to Tygh Valley and around Mt. Hood.  Some buddies were headed to Run 21 for a couple of days and I was doing a ride along for the day to get some “seat miles” before I set out on another longer trip to Utah/Nevada in a few days.

Hwy 197 heading toward Tygh Valley

Hwy 197 heading toward Tygh Valley

Run 21 is put on by the SE Portland Chapter ABATE of Oregon.  The event is an old-school biker rally and has been held annually for 14 consecutive years.  There is a great outdoor concert venue nestled in Tygh Valley and according to the rally flyer there was a good line up of music this year.

Our group headed out east on I-84 mid-morning and there was a strikingly white Mt. Hood in the distance against bright blue sunny skies.  We stopped for lunch in Hood River, and as we departed you could take in the scent of peach and pear trees in the warm fresh air.  At Mosier we took the Highway 30 scenic road up to Mayer State Park and the Rowena Crest.  From this vantage you can soak in the wide-angle views of the Columbia River and the Gorge.  There happen to be a “Bikers For Christ” meeting at the crest with 30+ riders in attendance.

Mt. Hood from Hwy 197 looking West

Mt. Hood from Hwy 197 looking West

We headed south at the junction of I-84 and Highway 197.  We stopped in the small farming town of Dufur for some refreshments and walked through the historic Balch Hotel lobby.  Nice B&B if you’re ever in need of a laid back weekend.

We continued on toward Tygh Valley where the rest of the group planned to exit for the camp ground.  Unfortunately at the junction of Highway 197 (The Dalles-California Hwy) and Tygh Valley Road (map HERE) there were two motorcycles involved in an accident.

Tygh Valley Motorcycle Accident

Tygh Valley Motorcycle Accident

It was about 3pm and according to the Wasco County Sheriff department the two riders were side-by-side and somehow got hooked up and went down.  No automobile was involved and no citations were issued.  One rider was taken by ambulance to Mid-Columbia in The Dalles and the other rider was taken by Life flight to Emmanuel Hospital in Portland.  No names or additional information about the riders conditions were reported.  Hopefully all goes well for these riders.

On Highway 26 and Mt. Hood

On Highway 26 and Mt. Hood

I had to backtrack a little around the accident on old US Hwy 197 (Tygh Valley Rd) and then headed west on Highway 216 (Wapinitia Hwy).   This is a nice two-lane road that skirts through a short section of the Warm Springs Indian Reservation and into the forest boundary.  I intersected with Highway 26 and headed up over Government Camp and then back into Portland.

It’s an awesome time to be outdoors on a motorcycle, and I hope you’re taking the opportunity to put some serious miles on your bike.

Photos taken by author.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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UO Football Helmet

UO Football Helmet — Go Ducks!

Different helmets do different things. There are hard hats on construction and heavy-industry heads; football helmets on athletes’ heads, Kevlar® caps on military heads and DOT certified helmets on motorcyclist heads.

None are interchangeable.  However, the motorcyclist in this photo might disagree.

On the weekend I was driving on Highway 217 and came upon this motorcyclist flashing some new reflectivity protective head gear – a University of Oregon football helmet!

I’m not sure if this “learning moment” is one where we ridicule his fashion faux pas or criticize the multiple color combinations of motorcycle, helmet, shirt, pants, socks and shoes, and how they’ll never pass the Nike-design standard.  But, most concerning is the specific amount of retroreflective material on the helmet and how it may well exceed state standards!

Huh?

Yep, a number of states have exact information on the location and number of square inches of retroreflective material required on motorcycle helmets.  I’m currently researching this fun fact and will report an update when I learn if Oregon has such a requirement embedded in the helmet law.

Motorcycle helmets are very sophisticated and specialized for an activity. They’ve been developed carefully and scientifically over the years and wearing a DOT helmet properly strapped on your head is mandatory in the state of Oregon.  If you want to read more about Oregon helmet laws go HERE.  If you’re interested in helmet standards go HERE.  The NHTSA is proposing to amend several aspects of Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 218, Motorcycle Helmets HERE.

But, this is all a moot point, because this “safety-minded motorcyclist” just planted another seed of doubt in the minds of non-riders – some who already question the rationale of motorcycle ownership in general – that wearing a football helmet means motorcyclists are not responsible people; we don’t take ourselves and motorcycling serious and no matter what the law says, it’s about projecting an attitude…

We’ve heard this tune before.  Many call it stupid and other’s will call it living.

Photo taken by author. 

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Random-CheckpointIn Oregon non-DOT motorcycle helmets are ALLOWED by definition under ORS 801.366.  See page #59 (HERE).

Independent of your views on the usage of these helmets, many riders would agree that motorcycle-ONLY safety checkpoints are inappropriate.  Yet in spite of the activism and involvement from the motorcycle community to stop or prohibit federal funds for motorcycle-ONLY checkpoints the progress hasn’t always been favorable.

Case in point is the Court of Appeals for the New York Second Circuit which backed roadblocks for the purpose of issuing motorcycle citations.

The back story is that in 2007, the New York State Police began using federal taxpayer grant money to target these motorcyclists with the stated objective “to detect motorcycle safety violations and ensure proper registration and operator compliance with New York State’s motorcycle license requirements.  The first roadblock was set up on October 7, 2007 to hit participants returning from a motorcycle rally nearby in Connecticut. Signs were posted on Interstate 84 ordering motorcycle riders to “exit ahead” while a uniformed police officer directed traffic into a rest area. From there, a total of 280 motorcyclists were detained and forced to undergo “full-blown inspections” that generated 104 traffic tickets. The most common citation was for improper helmet.

In 2008, a total of 17 roadblocks were held, detaining 2278 motorcyclists who were issued 600 tickets for infractions that had nothing to do with safety. Another 365 citations were issued for use of an unapproved helmet. Several detained bikers sued the state police after they were detained 45 minutes or more.

In U.S. District Court Judge Gary L. Sharpe rejected the motorcyclists’ argument that the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures applied to this case.  To get around the constitutional need for individualized suspicion of wrongdoing before a seizure, courts have created a “special needs” doctrine that allows roadblock programs serving a particular government need.

In this situation, the state produced statistics that showed motorcycle fatalities dropped 17 percent in the same year that motorcycle helmet ticketing increased 2175 percent, and Judge Sharpe agreed this was proof that the roadblock’s primary purpose was safety. The courts then must balance whether the government need to enhance safety is greater than the interference with individual liberty.

The appellate judges agreed with the lower court’s analysis that it was:  “Applying this balancing test, we conclude that the well catalogued public interest in highway safety is well served by the safety checkpoint program and outweighs the interference with individual liberty in this case,” the second circuit ruled in a brief, summary opinion. “Accordingly, the district court did not err in concluding that there was no constitutional violation.” A copy of the summary order of November 29, 2012 is at: Wagner v. Sprague (US Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, 11/29/2012).

I choose to wear a DOT approved helmet, but I dislike discriminatory checkpoints.  Have you been to the Laughlin River Run lately and rode out to Oatman, Arizona on the Oatman-Topock Highway?  How about return to the hotel from a concert at the Buffalo Chip during Sturgis week?  Random LEO check points are the norm.  Officers invade your personal space to check for alcohol.

Could Oregon be next to implement similar “safety” initiatives?  Hopefully not, but you might recall that at an ABATE rally in Olympia, WA a few years ago it become a photo op for “profiling” riders and law enforcement writing down license plate information (video HERE).  In 2011, Governor Chris Gregoire signed Senate Bill 5242  which outlaws profiling of motorcyclists and earlier this year, California Governor Jerry Brown signed into law California Bill AB 1047 which outlaws motorcycle only checkpoints.

If motorcycle only checkpoints raise your blood pressure then write or ride to the Oregon capitol in February and talk to your state legislators.  Explain to them that there is no reason why anybody in any state should be profiling any particular group including motorcyclists and you want them to stop it.

Photo courtesy Doug Chanco.  The 2012 Biker Rally at the Capitol HERE.

UPDATE:  Added the link to Oregon helmet law history HERE.

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Motorcycle enthusiasts in any given year will lobby and go to the mat on legislation issues that affect their hobby in the Northwest.

In Washington state one such bill was SB 5242  —  known as the biker profiling bill – it recently passed into law.   The bill prohibits singling out bikers for police stops without a legitimate reason. Motorcycle profiling is defined as when law enforcement officers single out people who ride motorcycles or wear biker “clothing,” stopping, questioning, searching or arresting them without legal grounds.

Motorcycle clubs who feel they have been singled out over the years see this as a major victory.  However, it’s a win for all motorcyclists in a way that the media isn’t really talking much about. Let me explain.

You might recall that I blogged about the NHTSA who recently made funds available to state, county and local law enforcement agencies to run “motorcycle only” checkpoints. The funds were recently applied for and granted in Florida, and as you can imagine during Daytona Bike Week there was a motorcycle only checkpoint in operation and the bikers-as well as the AMA- went ballistic.

Under the new Washington State law this supposedly cannot happen. Washington State Police (WSP) has stated that although they would not have applied for the funds regardless, that would not have stopped sheriffs and city law enforcement from applying. However, under the new bill they cannot … until someone decides to run county or city legislation to override the state law…

UPDATE: May 16, 2011 – Interesting and well articulated alternative viewpoint from Brian O’Neill (LEO) on how SB 5242 targets the wrong folks (police officer training) and this will get in the way of disrupting gang activity in Washington state.

Photo courtesy of Photobucket

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Dave Zien

Florida’s warm breezes welcomed the motorcycle community to what most consider the grand opening of the east coast motorcycle season.

I’ve been to Daytona Beach for the Daytona 500, but unfortunately never able to visit during Bike week.  Something to add to my ‘bucket list’ I suppose as Bruce Rossmeyers Harley Davidson at Destination Daytona and New Smyrna Harley Davidson play host to tens of thousands of bikers from around the world.   There are a number of biker venues like, Main Street’s Boothill Saloon, Iron Horse Saloon, Cabbage Patch, Gilly’s Pub 44, Broken Spoke Saloon, and Froggys to keep a person occupied.

The official stats have yet to be released, but antidotal media reports suggest that attendance is a bit mixed.  Some merchants blamed the economy and/or high gas prices for a less than spectacular attendance record this year..  One attendee interviewed by the local paper said:

“People just don’t have as much discretionary money to spend on a bike. And let’s face it, this is a frivolous vacation,” said Phil McAllister, pausing before adding, “But it’s still a lot of fun.”

I’m not sure if this is a predictor of the 2011 riding/rally season across the U.S. or not.  What do you think?  Will you be attending more, same or fewer motorcycle rallies than last year?  I’ll be attending fewer this year due to scheduling issues.

But, there were a couple of other notable items that will mark this years Bike week in the history books.  One was a sonic boom as the space shuttle Discovery began its rapid descent over the Atlantic Ocean and skillful final landing. After 39 missions, the space shuttle Discovery landed for the last time March 10th at Kennedy Space Center, about an hour from Daytona Beach.  The other and one that is most unfortunate was former Wisconsin state Sen. Dave Zien and AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer was seriously injured on Sunday in a motorcycle accident in Florida.

The accident occurred at 6:15 a.m. Sunday on eastbound Interstate 10 near Marianna in Jackson County.  Mr. Zien was driving in the inside lane when a Ford SUV crossed over from the right lane and into the median. The driver lost control of the vehicle and it rolled, flipping onto its side on the interstate facing north.

Zien attempted to avoid the crash scene but was unable to, clipping the back of the SUV. Zien was thrown from his 2009 Harley-Davidson bike where he was reported to have lost part of his left leg, and was airlifted to Tallahassee Memorial Medical Center, where at last report he was in stable condition.

Mr. Zien is best known as an AMA Hall of Famer, for defending motorcyclists’ rights while serving in the Wisconsin Legislature and true to his words he was not wearing a helmet in this accident.  Mr. Zien served as vice president of the Wisconsin Better Bikers Association and was known for riding around on his Harley-Davidson with a full-size American and Wisconsin flags on his bike. In addition, back in 2005, Zien was the main author of the Wisconsin RURA (Roadway Users Responsibility Act) 466.  That bill provides for increased penalties for vehicle operators who violate the right-of-way of other roadway users.  And in my opinion I hope there is a similar law in Florida because the driver of the SUV, Ryan G. Matheny of Marietta, OH., was charged with failure to maintain lane and driving with a suspended license.

Here’s hoping Mr. Zien a speedy recovery.

Photo courtesy of AMA.

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It’s the mother of motorcycle parades and it benefits children.

I’m talking about the Portland, Oregon annual Toy Run this Saturday (December 4th) which benefits children at OHSU’s Dornbecker Children’s Hospital.

The major organizer and motorcycle advocacy group for the event is ABATE and this year will mark 31 years.  In previous year’s turnout there have been thousands of riders, but more important are the toys collected for sick kids.  The Toy Run brings together Harleys, Hondas, clubbers, and even the occasional Vespa scooter.  The ABATE members hold a motorcycle raffle to help raise money for the hospital and shortly after noon the police will escort riders followed by a Tri-Met bus full of toys to the Shriners Hospital.

See you there…

Photo courtesy of ABATE.

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Tomorrow, on Veterans Day, my heartfelt thanks is extended to all veterans and their families.

This is not a day of celebration, rather a day of reflection to honor those who currently serve in harms way and have sacrificed on our behalf.

You are not forgotten.

Photo taken at Wanker’s Corner Saloon during Sept 11th celebration.

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