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Thursday Edition

Coast to Coast Legislative Report from AIM and Bill Bish for January 2013

Bikers Banned, Women Banned, ABS Mandatory, Criminals Crash, EPA, and Electric Bikes Win

By Bill Bish, thanks to Richard Lester and NCOM, with photos from the Bob T. collection

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Compiled & Edited by Bill Bish,
National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM)


Tax hikes and spending cuts dominated holiday headlines as the federal government teetered on the edge of the Fiscal Cliff, but the legislative package passed on New Year’s Day to resolve the issue, dubbed the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, included several tax credit extensions that didn't generate as much media interest –including one for electric motorcycles.

Oregon Senator Ron Wyden (D) sponsored the amendment extending the EV tax credit, which covers 10% of the cost of a qualified electric vehicle, up to $2,500. Vehicles must be a two-or three-wheeled plug-in electric designed “primarily for use on public streets, roads, and highways” and “capable of achieving a speed of 45 miles per hour or greater.”

Electric-powered two wheelers have been without a federal purchase incentive since the end of 2011, when the original tax break expired that was part of the $800 billion stimulus package passed in 2009.

A coalition of EV motorcycle companies, through Plug-In America, lobbied Congress to extend the tax credits, which are also retroactive and apply for electric motorcycles or EV chargers purchased in 2012 as well.

Wyden argues that extending the tax credit will help generate jobs in the growing electric motorcycle industry. “The electric motorcycle industry is poised to create tens of thousands of U.S. jobs over the next five years, led by companies like Oregon’s Brammo,” said Wyden. “This amendment helps promote the development of a promising U.S. industry and support the transition to a low-carbon American economy.”

According to two new Pike Research reports, electric scooters and motorcycle sales are going to eclipse that of plug-in vehicles by the end of this decade.

In one report from Pike Research which looks at electric motorcycles and scooters, the study predicts that “annual sales of e-motorcycles and e-scooters will reach 18.6 million by 2018.”

Pike Research points primarily to industries such as delivery companies, police and security forces, and even taxi services in some locations as the prime mover for the increase in sales of electric motorcycles and scooters.

Another recently released Pike Research report predicted that annual worldwide sales of electric vehicles will reach 3.8 million by 2020. This includes plug-in electric vehicles and hybrid electric vehicles selling in the Asia Pacific, North America, and Western Europe.

“Sales of EVs have not lived up to automakers’ expectations and politicians’ proclamations, but the market is expanding steadily as fuel prices remain high and consumers increasingly seek alternatives to internal combustion engines,” says senior research analyst Dave Hurst. “Indeed, sales of plug-in EVs will grow at a compound annual growth rate of nearly 40% over the remainder of the decade, while the overall auto market will expand by only two percent a year.”

Taken together, the two Pike Research reports indicate that two-wheel EV sales will outperform electric four-wheelers by a margin of 5-1 by the end of the decade. Currently, China is the biggest market for the sale of these electric vehicles, accounting for 81% of the global electric motorcycle and scooter market.

Ethanol-laden gasoline is known to cause engine damage, and many manufacturers warn that using the product will invalidate warranties, so when the EPA approved E15 (fuel blend containing 15% ethanol) it raised concerns amongst motorcyclists, off-roaders, snowmobilers, boaters and others who use vehicles and equipment driven by small gas-powered motors…none of which are approved for its use.

The EPA’s response was to require a minimum four gallon purchase, the misguided rationale being that it would dilute any residual E15 remaining in a gas pump’s lines. Again, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency came under fire, with powersports and automotive groups pushing back against the federal agency’s push for the grain alcohol-blended biofuel.

Apparently realizing that a viable solution to the problem needs to be conceived, the EPA is abandoning its four-gallon minimum on blender pumps that dispense both E10 and E15 from the same pump, and instead the government body says it will likely require gas stations to label shared pumps, as well as offer a dedicated E10 pump/hose for non-approved vehicles.

In the meantime, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia has denied a rehearing on the EPA decision to put E15 on the market. The federal appellate court decision is a setback for the oil-and-gas industry, which opposes the use of E15 and a federal biofuel blending mandate that requires refiners to blend 36 billion gallons of biofuels into traditional transportation fuels by 2022.

The new year puts new laws on the books across the country, with state and local governments ringing in 2013 with a mix of new laws ranging from the innovative to the odd; one in Kansas City says households can't have more than four cats, while a town in Massachusetts is banning businesses from selling plastic bottles. In Florida, drivers can once again flash their headlights to warn others of upcoming speed traps, which was previously outlawed. Meanwhile, driverless cars in California got the green light to hit the public roads, but one of Illinois’ 150 new laws prohibits motorcycle riders from popping wheelies -- Public Act 97-743 imposes a fine of $1,000 on anyone who pops a wheelie on a motorcycle while speeding.

Her husband's membership in a motorcycle club has cost the job of a human resources technician with the city of Kingman in northwest Arizona, according to a Phoenix lawyer who is representing the woman in her bid for reinstatement.

The city served 11-year employee Melissa Summerson a notice of intent the day after Christmas and terminated her employment Dec. 28, attorney David Kresin told the Las Vegas Review-Journal. "She was terminated for the stated reason of her husband's membership in a family motorcycle club - the Desert Roadriders," he said, adding that the dismissal violates her constitutional right to freedom of association. "There's no allegation that Ms. Summerson personally did anything wrong in her job or engaged in any conduct personally that violated any of the city's rules, and we believe there's no cause for termination as she's been an outstanding employee with a great record for her entire employment."

Motorcyclists who have criminal records are twice as likely to get into accidents on the road than their law-abiding peers, a new Swedish study has found.

The findings come from an examination of more than 5,000 motorcycle accidents carried out by Karolinska Institute epidemiologist Michael Fored.

He went through statistics and looked at motorcycle riders who have a license and then cross-referenced the names with the criminal register.

"If you've been convicted of a crime before, we see at least double the risk that you'll get into a serious accident," Fored told the TT news agency.

Among non-offenders, there are 4.1 accidents per 1,000 license-holders annually. However, that figure jumped up to 27.7 when looking at drivers who had at least two criminal convictions.

Fored shared his findings at the Transportforum conference in Linköping, Sweden. "Maybe we should educate people who break the traffic laws," suggests Fored.


A Europe-wide proposal to mandate anti-lock braking systems (ABS) for motorcycles bigger than 125cc manufactured from 2016 onwards was overwhelmingly approved by the European Parliament by a vote of 643-16. Although the measure is still working its way through the EU legislative process and must still be adopted by individual member nations of the European Union, it is expected to be adopted soon.

A European Union Commission presented the ABS requirement for new framework regulation for motorcycles, and calculates that the proposal would reduce the number of fatal motorcycle accidents by more than 5,000 over a 10-year period.

Although the first anti-lock braking system was installed on a motorcycle in 1988, only 16% of all newly manufactured motorcycles in Europe were equipped with ABS, and by comparison car manufacturers have made ABS standard equipment since 2004 which has contributed to an estimated 49% overall decline in fatal car accidents in the EU. Experts regard anti-lock braking as a huge boost to safety, pointing to a Swedish highway study that showed that 38% of all motorcycle accidents involve personal injury and 48% of all serious and fatal accidents could have been prevented with ABS.

In the U.S., the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has considered requiring ABS on new motorcycles sold in America, and will likely take up the issue in the near future.

In an effort to establish Sharia law, Indonesia's northwestern province Aceh has enacted a controversial new law banning women from sitting on motorcycles with their legs apart. Aiming “to save people’s morals & behaviors,” under the new regulation “women are allowed to sit ‘side-saddle’because passengers who sit side-saddle rarely fell off while when you see a woman straddle a motorcycle she looks like a man…”

Despite opposition from human rights activists who are calling for a reversal of the Sharia-type law; "We're going ahead with the ban. There's no resistance here," said Dasni Yuzar, secretary of the city administration.

"The government is only preserving morals. Women must not straddle motorbikes because it provokes the male drivers," declared Aceh Mayor Suaidi Yahya, who proposed the law. However, he also added that women were allowed to straddle motorbikes if they were driving, as long as they were dressed in a "Muslim way."

Al Yasa' Abubakar, a professor at the State Islamic Institute Ar-Raniry in Banda Aceh, explained that no such prohibition exists in Islam. While Yuzar agreed it was "not explicitly" written in the Koran that women should not straddle bikes, he said "by sitting astride, women dishonor themselves. They show their body curves almost transparently. They're riding with men who are not related by blood or marriage. Their front body part is in contact with the men's back. This is forbidden in Islam."

According to Tunggal Prawestri, a women's activist based in Jakarta, "Almost every bylaw that was based on Sharia law targets the female body as a political battle ground in Aceh. Women become the easiest target, because as soon as women rights activists protest we are deemed anti-Muslim or anti-Sharia."

Spread across a chain of thousands of islands between Asia and Australia,Indonesia has the world’s largest Muslim population and Southeast Asia’s biggest economy, a huge market that all motorcycle manufacturers, including Harley-Davidson, dream to dominate one day.


Declaring that outlaw bikies “…are not the type of people who should be running licensed premises,” Chief Commissioner Ken Lay has vowed to ban bikers from pubs and clubs across Victoria. "The legislation is designed to ensure that doesn't occur," he told the Herald Sun newspaper of his plan to move “bikies” out of venue ownership, operation and security.

Earlier this year, police swooped on bikies in a series of raids and seized 120 guns after ruling them not fit people to have the weapons under the Firearms Act.

Meanwhile, police are telling licensees not to allow patched-up bikies entry, so some Melbournestrip clubs, bars and nightclubs are refusing entry based on a "dress code standard," and some have even banned motorcycles from parking outside.

Inspector Paul Ross, of licensing enforcement, said police "advised" licensees "it's probably better if they don't allow outlaw motorcycle gang members inside ... wearing colors."

One operator, who is enforcing the ban, said police asked him and others to sign an agreement that the dress code standard relating to bikies was upheld.

QUOTABLE QUOTE: “When two opposite points of view are expressed with equal intensity, the truth does not necessarily lie exactly halfway between them. It is possible for one side to be simply wrong.”
~ Richard Dawkins (b. 1941), English biologist and author

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