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Posts Tagged ‘Profiling’

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.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Brammo_CEO

Craig Bramscher (Brammo CEO) and Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden

Equal treatment from the state and federal government.  It’s a topic that many motorcycle groups and individuals invest a lot of time to ensure.

Whether it’s fighting against profiling of average citizens who ride motorcycles or “anti-gang bills” that defines a gang as “an association of three or more individuals who share a symbol or name either formally or informally.”  Or maybe it’s calling out press organizations who use motorcycle club sensationalism to sell advertising which has the added benefit of isolating the motorcycle riding segment of our population from the mainstream and tries to “criminalize” motorcyclists in the court of public opinion.

But, today economic factors have me advocating on behalf of the motorcycle “Eco-Activist”.  Specifically the manufacturers that make electric two-wheeled vehicles.   They have been largely discriminated against and cannot benefit from the numerous government incentives designed to spur the growth and adoption of electric vehicles.  Remember the Clunker Program?  Motorcyclists need not apply!

However, there are some positive signs with HR 3246, which is called the Advanced Vehicle Technology Act.  The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the amendment giving two-wheel electric vehicles manufacturers access to Department of Energy funding for further development of electric vehicles.  For the EV industry this will allow, for the first time, two wheel vehicles to benefit from federal Department of Energy funding which automobiles enjoy.

Plug IN America was instrumental in getting this legislation passed in the house, but as you may recall a bill must pass both the House and Senate and then be signed by the President.  And while it’s gratifying to see the House of Representative approve and show support for electric motorcycles, the Senate needs to follow suit.  I encourage motorcyclists to take a moment to tell their U.S. Senator’s to support and pass this measure when it comes up to vote. A complete list of Senators and their contact information can be found here.

Photo courtesy of Brammo.  Full Disclosure: I don’t work for or have an investment or ownership in Brammo.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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