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Thursday Edition

ABATE of Wisconsin continues to demonstrate why it is successful in achieving many of its goals.


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Since its inception in 1974, ABATE of Wisconsin has always taken a proactive stance on matters affecting its membership and other motorcyclists in the state. Whether fighting for the right to choose on matters concerning personal safety, or pursuing legislative relief from laws that were detrimental or inequitable, ABATE has always taken the high ground to achieve victory.

In the ‘70s, it was repeal of the mandatory helmet law. In the ‘80s, ABATE challenged motorcycle confiscation problems. In the ‘90s, it was successful in overturning a Supreme Court ruling that punished injured riders for not wearing a helmet, even though there was no mandate for adult riders over 21 with a valid M endorsement. Recently, right of way violations against motorcyclists were on the rise and ABATE sought a just remedy through a comprehensive motorcycle bill, Act 466, that included sanctions and an education element for motorists who violated a rider’s right of way. 

Through a quirk in legislative drafting of bills, many right of way violations were defined as something else, even though in essence they were still right of way violations. That loop-hole allowed many violators to escape from the sanctions imposed by Act 466. ABATE has been working to rectify that problem since 2006, without success. Even though both houses of the state legislature supported what ABATE was proposing, the bills continued to stall legislative session after legislative session.

Tired of wasting time and political capital through several consecutive sessions, ABATE took a bold step forward, reminiscent of huge protest rallies that brought 50,000 bikers to Madison, Wisconsin in 1977. 

On October 12, over 100 ABATE members rode to the state Capitol to remind legislators that they did not appreciate lip service without legislative action. The defiance seemed to awaken in lawmakers the knowledge that ABATE wielded considerable clout and had been effectively working with the state to reduce injuries, alcohol related crashes, and unlicensed riders. 

Very soon after ABATE’s storm had ceased, the Assembly voted to pass the new legislation expanding the definition of a right of way violation. The Senate still has to take up a vote, but ABATE received word that it was going to do just that before the sessions ends. Click on the link to read a little more about the Perfect Storm!

-- Tony “Pan” Sanfelipo



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