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Sport bike “brake checked” the SUV driver

Sport bike “brake checked” the SUV driver

I delayed writing, not wanting to initially pile on, about the incident that occurred in New York City on Sunday, Sept. 29, involving an SUV driver and some motorcyclists.  But, I’ve received a number of emails on the topic and thought now was an appropriate  time to weigh in.

You might recall that the video (which was recently pulled down from YouTube), showed a dude riding a white sport bike who clearly pulled in front of the SUV and “brake checked” the driver.  The SUV is surrounded by bikers and had little space to maneuver, and bumped the white bike.  That seemed to be the issue that sparked a number of poor choices.  Later the rider was arrested and charged with “reckless endangerment, reckless driving, menacing and endangering the welfare of a child” and then bailed out.

My first thought is that if a rider chooses to brake check a SUV on a 3-lane highway within a few feet of the front bumper… getting hit is a reasonable expectation.  No motorcyclist deserves to get hit by a car and I’m not advocating the SUV driver was right in doing so.  There are a number of other videos posted by the same guy who put up that original SUV video, which indicates that riders were rolling down the sidewalk at speed, blowing a dozen red lights en masse, traveling on the wrong side of the road, and surrounded and beat on a Toyota Prius. 

It was an average Sunday afternoon motorcycle ride that started as a celebration to mark the end of the summer.  However, prior to the SUV incident, the police got notice of the massive riding group and set up checkpoints to inspect bikes and their riders at bridges and tunnels going into Manhattan. At least 15 people were arrested (mostly on vehicular charges), and 55 motorcycles were impounded which actually served to help break up the massive informal ride and sent splinter groups riding off in different directions.

We’ve all seen these “street stunt rides” where 100’s of motorcycles are observed forcing vehicles to stop or move to the side of the road while riders perform various “stunts” and record each other to then post onto the Web.  Unfortunately they’ve become fairly common.

I wasn’t there, but I was troubled by the serious injuries caused by the SUV driver and the escalating actions by some of the motorcyclists who apparently decided to take the law into their own hands.  

There is an estimated 27 million motorcyclists in America.  This incident, fueled by the media sensationalizing the story has helped create a false image of all motorcyclists in the general public and truly damaged the recreational sport.

Like many of you, I ride responsibly and do my part to represent motorcycling in a positive light.  And many of us who ride support rider education and are involved in rides to raise funds for charitable causes in our community.  Having a good friend recently be involved in a motorcycle accident with an automobile driver trying to “beat a red light” has made road safety, especially for motorcyclists, an acute concern to me and I don’t support the actions of this riding group.  On so many levels these motorcycle riders were wrong PERIOD.

Nobody deserves to be hit and the guy in the SUV might have been able to defused the situation, but not being there or knowing his frame of mind about the safety of his family, it’s not unreasonable to expect the SUV driver to panic and take off when surrounded by dozens of angry guys who have been riding very aggressive and reckless.

To date, four motorcyclists have been arrested with more arrests in-flight over this incident.  I would anticipate they will be used as a legal poster-child for a gang-like assault in court.

Photo courtesy of YouTube screen grab

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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.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Discriminatory Motorcycle Checkpoint

The year was 1910 and the charter of the city (where I currently reside) empowered city officials to enforce disparate, and what now seems quaint-sounding regulations.  Here are a couple of examples:

“To prescribe the width of tires of all vehicles.”

“To regulate and prevent public criers, advertising notices, steam whistles, the ringing of bells and the playing of bands.”

It seems harmless enough, but jump ahead 100 years to 2010 and cash strapped states are now targeting motorcyclists.  Huh?

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.  Specifically it’s called the “Motorcycle Law Enforcement Demonstration Grant” (DTNH22-10-R-00386).

Initially started in New York State, the process involves setting-up checkpoints where only motorcycles are pulled over. Law enforcement officers then check for U.S. DOT-compliant helmets, legal exhaust systems, and compliance with licensing, registration and inspection regulations. The NHTSA program would also collect information on high-motorcycle-crash-incident areas and citations would be issued for any violations discovered.  Law enforcement officials in New York have defended the program as a safety measure to decrease motorcycle crashes, injuries and fatalities – the extra public $$ is just a bonus –  yet there is no proof of its effectiveness.

But wait… there’s more.  The NHTSA is now seeking up to five other law enforcement agencies to participate in this practice and is offering from $70,000 to $350,000 in federal funding.  I wonder how long until one of the states in the northwest opts in?

Basically our freedom to ride is under attack because of Federally funded discriminatory motorcycle checkpoint stops that don’t require any probable cause other than riding a motorcycle!

What can you do?
As of July 2010, no NHTSA awards have been awarded, but you can contact your state senators and representatives and complain that the NHTSA is using our tax dollars to fund a program that targets bikers. Unlike Arizona where the law doesn’t specify a type of person, but “may” result in racial profiling, in this case the target is defined and profiling would be, in fact, it’s clearly a part of the program. It may be unconstitutional and at minimum is a waste of our tax dollars.

If you prefer the AMA has developed an online email/letter to Administrator Strickland urging him to suspend the grant program until profiling questions have been addressed.

Photo courtesy of NY Police.

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Big vs. Bigger Issue

The American Heart Association encourages Americans to reduce their sodium intake and has advocated the reduction by food manufacturers.  Now we have a bill introduced in the New York Legislature, if passed, would ban the use of salt in restaurant cooking. 

Need I say more?

According to the bill, A. 10129 , it states in part: “No owner or operator of a restaurant in NY state shall use salt in any form in the preparation of any food for consumption by customers of such restaurant, including food prepared to be consumed on the premises of such restaurant or off of such premises.”  The legislation would fine restaurants $1,000 for each violation.

No matter which side of the salt debate you fall, most reasonable folks would agree that the legislature need not save us from ourselves!

Where does this zero tolerance of salt end?  First it’s no salt in restaurant food.  Then no salt at the restaurant table.  No salt in processed food.  No salt in the grocery store.  No salt at home.  No salt manufactures and then finally federal salt subsidies since Morton’s will likely go out of business.  Talk about when it rains, it pours!  Are the “crazy patients” running the hospital?  This HAS to be the most outrageous attempt of government over reach and intrusion into private lives that we’ve ever seen! And here I thought motorcycle helmet laws were the greatest nanny-state intrusion.

If they need to protect us then there is no doubt many personal care products which contain all manner of evil stuff that is not good for us. I cook up a lot of my own personal care products in the back yard for this very reason. The smell isn’t so bad once you get use to the smoke!  Not only is the shampoo aisle a potential deathtrap, the entire grocery store probably ought to be surrounded by yellow crime scene tape. Even organic apples still have cyanide-laced pits. It occurs naturally. Liquor stores, tobacco shops, motorcycle dealers and tanning parlors are known menaces. Zero tolerance? Then don’t drink the water. Don’t breathe the air.

The natural radiation emanating from the eastern Oregon geography would probably justify a protective fence around a good chunk of the state. Then there are the proven carcinogenic effects of solar radiation in Bend, Or (much higher exposure at altitude), medical x-rays and wood dust. Second hand tobacco smoke, negative thought patterns, genetics and a plethora of other factors are thought to contribute to cancer and birth defects.

As often is the case with these legislature ‘tards (I mean no disrespect to the Special Olympics – know that you are much smarter!) who create the proposed legislation – they forget to include public enforcement provisions. The bills just set up a platform for civil lawsuits. Furthermore, they often enable “bounty hunter” lawsuits to be filed solely on the basis of no harm to anyone need be proven.

Oh, silly me, there I go again, just another rant on government overregulation.  The government could save so much money and time and put every American on a Hospital-like bland diet for life. Eventually that’s what it will come too.  Suddenly I’m craving a Saltine cracker? 

Now get back to work – someone has to pay for all the legislature time dreaming up bills to protect us from ourselves!

Photo courtesy of The Rut.

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FireTruck-FlagLike many of you I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing on the morning of 9/11.

The sunrise was starting to peek out and you could tell it was going to be a beautiful fall September morning in 2001.  I was up early preparing for a flight to the bay area and in an odd and very uncharacteristic behavior I had the TV on — which I never do — as I prepped.  The announcer interrupted the show about a plane crashing into the World Trade Center and in a few minutes I watched the 2nd plane crash.  I didn’t know what was going on, but knew it wasn’t no accident.  I have friends who work in the city and I went to the PC and sent off a couple emails.  I never did make my flight and remember feeling a sense of violation and anger at both the perpetrators and our governments failure as I watched the TV news for most of the day.

It’s hard to believe that it’s been 8 years ago.  The Alan Jackson song, “Where were you when the world stopped turning?” best sums up my feelings today and I wanted to dedicate this post to the victims and hero’s of 9/11.  And while we’re at it let’s not forget the military on the battlefield.

Photo courtesy of NJ Monthly.com

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