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Oregon State Capitol in the Spring

Did you know that in 2013, Portland was ranked as the 10th most traffic-congested metropolitan area in the United States?

Jump ahead two years later, and Portland is now ranked (2015) as the 8th most traffic-congested metropolitan area on a Friday in the United States.

I’m an advocate for motorcycle safety and the passage of laws that improve motorcycle safety with a result of increased motorcycle awareness and driver accountability.  Like many of you, I’ve been riding for a good long while and my perspective comes from years of riding motorcycles across the United States (including in California).

Given the fact that Oregon continues to struggle with funding issues associated with overhauling an aging transportation infrastructure at the same time in which it is coming under increasing strain from population growth you’d think aspects of improving stop-and-go traffic situations would be relatively straightforward.  It’s not!  There is a lot of discussion and hand-wringing in Salem about riding motorcycles, incentivizing motorcycle use in dense urban areas and using less fuel-efficient automobiles, but few actionable plans seem to materialize or get put into motion to address increased traffic congestion.

One could debate if the “let it melt” strategy for ice storms, is being applied to traffic congestion, but instead it would be “watch it get worse.”  I’m still looking for a report out or the glowing “success” memo from ODOT in regards to the near Real-Time Reader Signs on Highway 217 that seldom seem to be accurate.

In fairness, there have been enhancements to various roadways to “ease” some traffic congestion and construction is now happening on Highway 26 to widen the road.  In addition, there is a major enhancement planned to improve traffic conditions and highway operations on I-5 from Highway 99W to I-205.  Part of the Corridor Bottleneck Operations Study, the I-5 project isn’t going to start until early 2018 and hopefully be completed by the fall of 2019.

Below is a quick summary of some key 2017 motorcycle legislation and the current status:

Senate Bill 385Lane Sharing (Highways Only) — Bill would have made lane splitting legal, but has died in the Senate Judiciary Committee.  The Governor’s Advisory Committee on Motorcycle Safety (GAC-MS) discussed, debated and identified merits and problems with this legislation, and decided at its February 16, 2017 meeting to oppose SB 385 by a 5-2 vote in the name of motorcyclist and motorist safety.  ODOT opposed passage of SB 385 citing that Oregonians don’t support this motorcycle riding practice and that the safety of motorcyclists across the state of Oregon will be compromised.  The AAA and the Oregon Trucking Association also testified against the bill.

The next legislative session opportunity is now in 2019.

You might recall that there was an identical bill which failed two years ago — SB 694.  Interestingly this bill received initial support from the GAC-MS.  The group provided written and verbal testimony in support of the bill which made it out of committee (unanimously) and passed the full Senate with a 2/3 bipartisan majority before failing in the House.  The GAC-MS changed its position after SB 694 passed the Senate and then opposed the bill at the House Committee on Transportation and Economic Development.  It’s unclear why the Committee’s position switched or the mixed messages on the riding practice.

What is the Governor’s Advisory Committee on Motorcycle Safety (GAC-MS) you ask?

It’s an influential group comprised of eight volunteer citizens who advise the Governor and the Governor’s Highway Safety Representative on motorcycle safety issues and legislation. The GAC-MS reviews legislation that could or might affect motorcycle safety in Oregon.  The Committee consider’s input from Oregon Confederation of Clubs, Abate of Oregon, BIKEPAC of Oregon, Law Enforcement, ODOT, AAA, Trucking Association to name a few and from motorcyclists and organizations in support of motorcycle legislation.

House Bill 2665Lane Sharing (Lanes and Shoulders) — Allows operators of motorcycles and mopeds to travel on the shoulder of highway during traffic jams or slowdowns.  The Governor’s Advisory Committee on Motorcycle Safety Committee voted to oppose 7-0.

Senate Bill 680Lane Sharing (All Roads) — Allows operators of motorcycles and mopeds to travel between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles during traffic jams or slowdowns.  The Governor’s Advisory Committee on Motorcycle Safety voted to oppose 7-0 in a previous meeting.

House Bill 2598Vehicular Assault of Motorcycle Riders (Enhanced Penalties) or often called the “Driver Responsibility Bill” — Expands offense of vehicular assault to include contact with motorcycle, motorcycle operator or motorcycle passenger.  Specifically adds motorcyclists (and/or their passengers) to a current Oregon law that provides those who operate another vehicle recklessly resulting in contact with and injury to a motorcyclist and/or their passenger to be possibly charged with the crime of “vehicular assault” and its associated penalties.  There is no specific provisions to protect motorcyclists from reckless drivers and there is no specific accountability for drivers that injure a motorcyclist as opposed to a pedestrian or a bicyclist, and motorcyclists are not on the vulnerable users list.

The bill has moved thru the House committee with a “pass” recommendation and is headed for House Floor vote.  The Governor’s Advisory Committee on Motorcycle Safety voted to oppose 4-3 the bill and is determining how best to communicate the Committee’s position to the legislation.

House Bill 2599Helmet Choice — Requires only persons under 21 years of age to wear motorcycle helmet while riding on or operating motorcycle or moped.  This is an emergency bill and would take immediate effect upon passage. Topics discussed included: individual choice, what happens when a rider doesn’t have health insurance and needs long-term care, the efficacy of the age requirement, the inability to see or hear as well when wearing a helmet.

The Governor’s Advisory Committee on Motorcycle Safety voted to oppose the bill.

Senate Bill 36Three Wheel Motorcycle Skills TestingWaiver — This bill eliminates the requirement that DMV conduct a skills test prior to issuance of a restricted three-wheel motorcycle endorsement. Individuals applying for the three-wheel motorcycle endorsement would still take the motorcycle knowledge test.  There are approximately 45 tests offered per year at five DMV field offices for the restrictive three-wheel motorcycle user.  The DMV is not currently granting waivers to three-wheel cycle users and that users who want a three-wheel motorcycle only endorsement still have to take knowledge and skills tests and receive a unique endorsement.

The Governor’s Advisory Committee on Motorcycle Safety voted to support the bill.

I’ll continue to update this blog post as I learn about any bill updates during the 2017 legislative session.

Photo courtesy of State of Oregon

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Twin Peaks Restaurant

Nearly two years after a deadly and horrific shooting it remains clouded with mystery, is intriguing and familiar, all at the same time.

There are unexpected admirers, hundreds of legal proceedings and thousands of investigative hours completed to date.  There is an on-going “outlaw motorcycle gang” task force and there was an interesting book written by Donald Charles Davis aka. “The Aging Rebel” about Texas law enforcement, the clubs, the personalities and the event.

Photo sampling of Twin Peaks shooting

Of course, I’m talking about the Twin Peaks Massacre — the deadliest biker violence in U.S. history that took place on May 17, 2015.

Make no mistake, some motorcycle clubs never shy away from flaunting their brutal pedigree, and in Waco, TX the shootout left 9 dead (four by police) and 18 wounded in or near the popular Central Texas restaurant.  Reportedly a dispute broke out, escalated to include knifes and firearms and then spilled into a shooting rampage in the restaurant parking lot.  Remarkably, law enforcement was aware of the large “gathering,” along with the potential for trouble and were pre-positioned in a show of force to address or stamp down any violence.

Shooting aftermath…

If only the parking lot could talk…

Once the deadly shooting brawl subsided, law enforcement arrested 177 persons (173 male and 4 females) from a variety of motorcycle clubs as well as everyday motorcycle enthusiasts/patrons who were in attendance.  Some may have rode in for fine dining, but they didn’t ride out.  Instead they were arrested on organized crime charges.

Yeah it’s Texas, but the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives retained and have in possession more than 475 weapons from the scene, including at least 151 firearms.

Sure, it can be a messy world, but this was no motorcycle episode of Sons of Anarchy debating how the biker life is too short for would-haves and the need to follow your own compass.  This was a disgustingly brutal and super bloody mass killing on full display during a public motorcycle “gathering.”  Is there any doubt why the press and media continue to push a negative biker narrative?

Sadly, the nine dead were members of the Bandidos and Cossacks motorcycle clubs.

Within a few hours accusations that the shootings were an aggressive overreaction by law enforcement began.  Then within days the conspiriacy rumors surfaced that it was a Federal agency tactic, motivated to bring the 1% clubs down.  And if that didn’t spark enough law enforcement skeptisim, many of the mass arrests were misclassified and have created severe consequences to innocent people not to mention the potential for numerous civil rights violations.

Jump forward nearly 2-years after the gathering and shooting spree or massacre, there remains 154 persons, currently under indictment. Nobody has been cleared.  38 people, including women, are still “under investigation.”  One indictee and one potential indictee has died during this lengthy delay to find justice.

There’s been a number of national and international publications “explaining” the event.  From the beginning, authorities in Texas have worked to control the narrative of what happened at Twin Peaks.  Almost 200 people potentially face long prison terms for conspiring to act criminally although prosecutors have refused to state what each of those defendants actually did other than what looks like they were trying to survive a mass shooting event.

Over the years motorcycle enthusiasts have become familiar with government entities nibbling away at their freedoms and this has a Déjà vu feeling.

I wasn’t there, but can imagine this event being a “change your life” moment.  I do recall instances of being in a public setting with riding buddies, other motorcycle enthusiasts along with various motorcycle club members enjoying the rally experience.  Only to witness a spark of personality that ignites a “bring it on bigger” a‘tude and the flaunting of an aggressive remedy putting everyone at risk.

I was born at night, but it wasn’t last night and being attentive to your surroundings can be just as important to protecting yourself as putting on a helmet.  I like riding motorcycles and the overall rally/group experience, but I also like my life away from it.

But I’ve digressed.

I’ve been monitoring the bits of information about this shootout as well as the legal proceedings and am reminded of that carney (Anderson) in the Twin Peaks TV series.  Every summer the Carnivàle came to town.  The strange little fellow spoke in an unusual manner.  He would speak backwards and used phonetically reversed speaking as a “secret language.”

It’s as if there is some type of “secret language” being used in Waco.

I’m not a conspiracy theorist, but according to Katherine K. Young who wrote in her book“every real conspiracy has had at least four characteristic features: groups, not isolated individuals; illegal or sinister aims, not ones that would benefit society as a whole; orchestrated acts, not a series of spontaneous and haphazard ones; and secret planning, not public discussion” — all of this seems to imply that nothing with the Twin Peaks Massacre happened by accident, nothing is as it seems, and everything is connected.

Photos courtesy of Waco Tribune-Herald (Jerry Larson) and Google Image Search

Some references in developing this post:

Motorcycle Profiling Project

One Percenter Bikers

Daily Mail

GQ Article

Texas Monthly

Aging Rebel

Waco Tribune-Herald

 

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Digging Through Saddlebags

Digging Through Saddlebags

Yeah, it may well happen if you come across a motorcycle-only checkpoint.

I’ve written previously about how motorcycle safety outweighs individual liberty as state and local governments have begun to implement motorcycle-only checkpoints that unfairly target motorcyclists for inspection by law enforcement officers.

Specifically it’s called the “Motorcycle Law Enforcement Demonstration Grant” (DTNH22-10-R-00386) and the motorcycle-only checkpoints are funded by grants given out by the federal government, through the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).  That’s correct.  The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is offering federal funds to expand the practice of creating motorcycle-only checkpoints by law enforcement agencies.

Initially started in New York State, the process involves setting-up checkpoints where only motorcycles are pulled over. Law enforcement officers will check for U.S. DOT-compliant helmets, legal exhaust systems, and compliance with licensing, registration and inspection regulations.  And they may decide to dig through your saddlebags!

What can you do?

Petition-PhotoSign this petition which calls for the cessation of the NHTSA’s direct and indirect funding of the motorcycle-only checkpoints through its grants and other measures, and asks that the laws for vehicle conformity and passenger safety be applied equally to motorcycles and automobiles alike.

Why This Petition Site?  The White House’s “We the People” website is the only one that sends a message directly to the president.  Once 25,000 signatures are reach, the petition is put in front of President Barack Obama, where he has to officially respond to the petition, which could include directing the NHTSA from funding motorcycle-only checkpoints.

I Live In A State With-Out Motorcycle-Only Check Points, Why Should I Bother To Sign?  Because there are a large number of motorcyclists in the U.S., yet overall our passion is shared by only a small portion of the population. This makes it relatively easy for laws, and those who enforce those laws, to target motorcyclists unfairly.  The motorcycling community needs to come together, regardless of how this one issue affects you, in order to ensure that the basic rights of motorcyclists everywhere are assured.

This Won’t Change Anything, So I’m Not Going To Waste My Time.  You might be right, but putting the issue in front of The President of the U.S. might do something, and if nothing else, it shows that the motorcycle-riding community is an active participant in what occurs in Washington D.C. and in the local legislatures. Doing nothing truly means that nothing will change.

Crap, I Have To Register To Sign This.  Are You Kidding Me?  The White House’s “We the People” website is the only site that sends a message directly to the president, and if there are enough signatures, the president has to formally respond to the petition.

I Don’t Want The Government To Have My Email Address.  Ahh… right, like they don’t already know where you live…

Please take the time and consider signing the petition.

Photos courtesy of Baggers Magazine and The White House “We The People” website.

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e-citationWe’ve all been there.

The riding posse jostles out of a parking lot or a fuel stop and spills out onto the freeway.  The front of the pack has merged onto the freeway as everyone behind must speed up so, we twist open the throttle and try and catch the front of the pack.  Everyone is doing the same thing.  Some cars are smart enough to let us have our way and some are not.  Then you glance down at the speed-o-meter just long enough to see it somewhere north of 70 mph and as the eyes return up to the front you glimpse a red/blue flashing light in the mirror.

Speaking of traffic enforcement…  in the state of Oregon, twenty-four hours a day, the Oregon State Police (OSP) issue traffic citations.  In fact, OSP issues a citation approximately every 2.6 minutes as they hand write more than 200,000 citations annually.  And after a copy is given to the person stopped by the trooper, copies are hand-delivered to the local court and another copy to the respective OSP field office.  It doesn’t stop there as transcriptions of a single citation will occur at the field office into the OSP Records Management System and again at the circuit or justice court.

Clearly all this “processing” leads to a considerable number of resources being dedicated to capturing information on the citations for the respective court system along with a certain percentage of transcription errors.

Enter the OSP Mobility + E-Ticketing Program.  A program which developed an electronic citation process to more efficiently move a citation from the law enforcement officer’s hand to circuit and justice courts all across the state.

Aren’t we lucky to have such visionaries cheerfully remove our wait burdens during the ticket processing?

OSP-EticketThe program started back in January 2011 when the OSP began exploring alternatives as part of a series of technology-based projects to transform how OSP troopers work and how the Department conducts daily business. The Mobility + E-Ticketing Program was successfully rolled out earlier this year as 39 circuit courts began moving from the delivery of handwritten citations to electronically receiving citations in “twitter speed” from the scene of the traffic stop.

It’s all about improving efficiency and automating the tedious act of an officer issuing a traffic citation.  OSP consulted with the Oregon Justice Department (OJD) and the Chief Justice of Oregon to ensure legal compatibility with all state statutes. And, multiple agencies and vendors worked collaboratively to deliver a fully integrated solution that automated OSP systems and helped the courts. By developing an electronic citation process that could be used by all law enforcement agencies across Oregon just think of the utilization metrics and nifty cost saving stats.  With a “we look forward to seeing you frequently” mind-set, E-Ticketing also helped implement the OJD Courts ePay process, allowing offenders to pay citations on-line within 24 hours instead of being involved in a process that could take more than 3 weeks to resolve.

The OSP Mobility +E-Ticketing Program cost approximately $2.5 million including hardware, software, equipment, installations, and other related costs.  The state used a federal grant to upgrade technology and installation of in-patrol-car computer systems. The mobile computers give troopers immediate data sharing capabilities with other law enforcement agencies while they are involved in a stop.

So, the next time you twist the throttle, know that the nice folks at the OSP, OJD and Trial Court collaborated to deliver you a citation efficiently with the intent of helping you move along to your destination as quickly as possible – of course within the legal posted speed limits!

Photo courtesy of OSP.

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The FBI reported that in 2009 there was a 17% jump in the number of law enforcement officers “feloniously killed” in the line of duty (LODD) compared to the previous year.  One of the more egregious incidents included the slaying of four Lakewood, WA., police officers who were ambushed at a coffee house outside Tacoma.  In total the Seattle area experienced the deaths of 7 police officers last year and one in the early months of 2010.

Recently I was contacted by Gary Fox, a retired police officer who is a member of the Line of Duty Death Response Team and the Behind the Badge Foundation.  Clearly no one wants to contemplate their own death, but law enforcement is a high-risk occupation with the very real possibility of such a tragedy and these groups are extremely helpful to the families and police departments.  At any rate, Mr. Fox informed me about a motorcycle ride which will be led by Seattle Police Officer, Clayton Powell, as well as other current officers and friends, who have pulled this together in honor of the officers killed in the line of duty.

The inaugural ride is called the Forza 009  Ride to Remember and it will occur this Sunday, July 25th.  The “FOR” stands for Fallen Officers Ride.  The “ZA” is in remembrance of the Forza Coffee Shop in Parkland — the sight of the worst single incident involving a LODD (line of duty death).  The ride is open to all law enforcement, fire fighters and supporters.  The staging area will be at the 7500 block of East Marginal  Way, in the Boeing Parking Lot.  From there they plan to ride to the East Precinct in Seattle, where a memorial Patch will be presented to the precinct;  from there, they will ride to the Lakewood Precinct where four patches will be presented;  from there to Eatonville to the Pierce County Mountain Precinct; and then to the Forza Coffee shop in Lakewood for a BBQ and raffle.

The proceeds of this ride will assist squad members, agency officers, and family members who would like to go the National Police Week festivities in Washington, DC., during May, but don’t have the funds.   The proceeds of this ride will assist those who can’t afford to go and the ride web site has all the information detail.

Photos courtesy of Behind The Badge and FORza web site.

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For those of you participating in the Free The Colors Ride, below is the finalized OVMA ride route. The map is only an approximation of the ride route:

  1. (A) Join the ride at the beginning in McMinnville. Leave Shari’s parking lot at 11:00AM SHARP! Be there early.
  2. (B) Join the ride at the first scheduled stop. Leaving the parking lot of K-Mart on Hwy 22 in South Salem at 12:10PM SHARP! Be there early.
  3. (C) Next scheduled stop. I-5 Northbound Rest Area (near Wilsonville). Time will be contingent upon the time it takes to ride from South Salem to the rest area. Riders need to be there by 12:20PM SHARP!
  4. Ride will depart rest area and proceed toward Wilsonville to I-205 North to the Oregon City exit for McLoughlin Blvd to (D) Ross Island Bridge.
  5. Ride will cross over to 99W and proceed to King City. Will then head out on Durham Road back to I-5 South.
  6. Ride will proceed I-5 South to (E) Salem Harley-Davidson

Some other important items being communicated through various channels by the OVMA deserve being repeated:

Law Enforcement will be providing traffic control assistance and the OVMA has expressed their appreciation and gratitude.  This ride is to celebrate the OVMA and its 16 years of service to Oregon State veterans and their families, and to demonstrate their continued intentions to be good neighbors in the Oregon MC community-at-large.

As stated in previous blog post/comments HERE, the OVMA will not tolerate bad actors.  Attitudes should stay at home.  The OVMA will cooperate with Law Enforcement fully and on all matters, as they have in the past.  There is no plan nor was there ever any intent to route this ride anywhere near other MC clubhouse’s or any other organization’s meeting areas.

The OVMA State Road Captain is currently working on placement of riders, and assigning assistant Road Captains, and road guards to assist during the ride.  Flyers will be available and passed out with the appropriate hand signals for those who are unfamiliar with group riding.  It’s predicted we will have large numbers of riders show up for this ride.  If you  are unfamiliar with group riding and/or have a question please ask someone for assistance.

First and foremost is SAFETY along with showing courtesy on the road to others we will be sharing. This ride is about Freedom, Fellowship, Comrades-in-Arms, and Brotherhood.

The theme says it all – “For Those Who Fought For It – FREEDOM has a Flavor the Protected Will Never Know”

Enjoy the ride and be safe out there!

UPDATE: September 27, 2008 – The ride results are HERE.

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From the movie Righteous Kill the tag line is “There’s Nothing Wrong With A Little Shooting As Long As the Right People Get Shot“…sure that’s Hollywood, but it seems this could be applied to the law enforcement investigation of Seattle Detective Ron Smith whose felony assault charges for shooting a member of the Hells Angels motorcycle club in Sturgis were dismissed yesterday.

Dropped because as Jesse Sondreal (Meade County State Attorney) states:

“the investigation that I have reviewed indicates he (Smith) was assaulted and it was premeditated.”  The investigation established that Detective Smith was defending himself from a violent pre-meditated attack and he responded in a manner which was neither excessive nor unreasonable under the circumstances.

DeNiro Target Range

DeNiro Target Range

While the case illustrates reserving final judgment until all facts are examined it leaves some unanswered questions about how much, if any, the Sturgis incident was influenced by Smith’s testimony in a Hell’s Angel federal racketeering and murder trial in Seattle last year which sent several former and current members of the motorcycle “club” to prison ranging from seven years to life without parole. Or how much the decision to dismiss the assault charges were based on the lack of cooperation of the HAMC who wouldn’t testify before the grand jury?

The Seattle Times (Jennifer Sullivan) reports HERE that Court records and police testimony indicate Smith has clashed with another Hells Angel back in 2005.  Authorities filed charges alleging that Anthony James Magnesi, a member of the Washington Nomads chapter of the Hells Angels, had threatened Smith over the phone.  The end result from an internal investigation dismissed misdemeanor charges filed against Magnesi and Smith was referred to his supervisor for a training issue.  Much more on the Magnesi clashes HERE.

Detective Smith will return to full active duty (he was on administrative leave pending results) and obviously the Seattle Police Officers Guild is happy with the outcome and issued a press release HERE.

For more background information look at:

  1. Northwest Harley Blog Archive | Iron Pigs Ride The Northwest
  2. Northwest Harley Blog Archive | When Iron Pigs Fly
  3. Northwest Harley Blog Archive | Sturgis Ends With First Shooting In 20 Years
  4. NEW – Northwest Harley Blog Archive | Behind The Scenes Of The Sturgis Shooting
  5. NEW – Northwest Harley Blog Archive | Cash Is The Icing On Iron Pigs HR218 Cupcake

I don’t know about you, but I’m a bit conflicted and feeling this outcome is anti-climatic.  Does this mean the Iron Pigs won’t return to Sturgis next year?  Can the motorcycle events industry afford yet another motorcycle “club” clash?

Operator, I need Mr. Happy.  Now!

Update: November 18, 2008 – Weapons charges dropped.  See HERE for more info.

Update: May 7, 2010 – Detective Ronald Smith has filed a lawsuit against the city of Seattle and the Seattle Police Department.  Even though all charges were dropped the suit alleges the department disparaged him and negligently provided false information that led to his indictment on a perjury charge.  This was an embarrassment and the lawsuit contends his reputation was harmed.

Photo courtesy of the movie Righteous Kill web site.

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