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Tuesday Edition

Coast to Coast Legislative Report from AIM and Bill Bish for October 2012

Pakistan Tries to Ban Motorcycles, RI Wants to tax Them, Tougher European Regs, and Unfair Parking Tickets in NYC

By Bill Bish, thanks to Richard Lester, with vintage images courtesy of the Bob T. collection

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Early David Mann signed by Ed Roth, when he was the boss.
Early David Mann signed by Ed Roth, when he was the boss.

THE AIM/NCOM MOTORCYCLE E-NEWS SERVICE is brought to you by Aid to Injured Motorcyclists (A.I.M.) and the National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM), and is sponsored by the Law Offices of Richard M. Lester. If you’ve been involved in any kind of accident, call us at 1-(800) ON-A-BIKE or visit


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

“The numbers speak for themselves,” said Vince Consiglio, president of ABATE Michigan, in announcing a decrease in motorcycle deaths since the state repealed their mandatory helmet law. Despite dire predictions to the contrary, motorcycle fatalities actually have dropped by 7% based on statistics obtained from the Michigan State Police and the Michigan Secretary of State.

On April 12, 2012, the requirement for motorcycle helmets was amended to allow adult choice for bikers 21 and older, providing they completed an accredited motorcycle-safety course or had a minimum of two years riding experience.

According to an ABATE press release, from 2011 (pre-amendment) to 2012 (post amendment) motorcycle fatalities dropped from 89 to 85 in Michigan, a 4.5% reduction. During the same time period, the number of motorcycle registrations increased from 261,658 to 266,589, so ABATE concludes; "If the fatality rate is adjusted to the total of motorcycle registrations it shows that the fatality rate has decreased from 0.034% to 0.031% since the helmet-law amendment - a seven percent reduction."??"This data proves conclusively that the helmet-law amendment had no adverse effect on motorcycle safety," Consiglio told The Detroit News.

“When a deer collides with a vehicle that weighs a couple of tons, the fragile animal almost always gets the worst of it. When a deer meets a motorcycle on the roadway, both the rider and the deer may suffer the same fate,” stated the Washington Post in reporting on research by AAA that found that seven of the eight people who died in crashes involving deer over a three-year period in Maryland and Virginia were motorcyclists. Nationwide, the auto club said, about 70% of deer-crash fatalities involve motorcycles.

“Because they are riding on two wheels, motorcycle riders and their passengers are especially vulnerable when they smash into a deer,” said John B. Townsend II, an AAA spokesman.

The deer mortality rate becomes most evident this time of year, as the mating season has more deer on the move. Their carcasses by the roadside attest to the danger that the lure of romance poses for them and for drivers.

In 2010, the latest year for which there are national statistics, 403 people were killed in accidents involving deer.

A total of 46,667 motorcycles were reported stolen in 2011, and 17,199 of them were recovered, according to a report released today by the National Insurance Crime Bureau. That compares to 49,791 stolen bikes in 2010, a decrease of 6%.

California, the most populous U.S. state and the one with the most stolen motorcycles since the NICB began collecting data in 1996, retained its top spot with 5,927 thefts last year. It was followed by Texas, Florida, North Carolina and Indiana. The state reporting the lowest number of thefts was North Dakota (21) followed by Wyoming, South Dakota, Vermont, Alaska, and Montana.

Recoveries of stolen motorcycles were largely proportional to thefts, with California the leader in recoveries (2,085) followed by Florida (1,334), Texas (965), Indiana (769), and North Carolina (725). The overall average time of recoveries was 31 days.

July and August were the biggest months for thefts in the U.S. last year, with more than 5,000 each, compared with 2,147 in February, the report shows.

Whereas the number of thefts increases dramatically in the warmer months, the day of the week seems to be of no significance. On Mondays, the day of the largest number, there were 6,962 bikes stolen. The number on Sundays, the day of the lowest number, there were 6,422.

More than 500 motorcycle makes were among those stolen last year, but the highest percentage of bikes stolen were of the Honda brand, at 24%. Yamaha was next (19%), followed by Suzuki (16%), Kawasaki (11%) and Harley-Davidson (7%).



City Councilman Peter Vallone Jr. (D-Astoria), an avid Harley-Davidson rider, is pushing for legislation that would make motorcycle parking free throughout the five boroughs. “We get tickets a lot,” Vallone said of motorcyclists in the Big Apple. “That is unfair.”

At issue are muni-meters; “There is no way for a motorcycle rider to affix a muni-meter (receipt) to their bike in a way that it won’t blow away and it won’t be stolen,” Vallone said.

State Assemblyman Michael DenDekker (D-Jackson Heights), a fellow motorcyclist who recently received a $65 parking fine, has joined with Councilman Vallone in supporting a law to give motorcyclists a free ride. Due to what he calls “a faulty system,” DenDekker said making parking free for some 38,000 motorcyclists in New York City would put the brakes on the problem while being an environmentally sound move because motorcycles generate less pollution, need little space and use minimal gas.

“It would be a great idea to encourage other alternate forms of transportation like we’re doing right now with bicycles,” DenDekker said. “We also need to do that with motorcycles.”

Joe Sessa, director of New York City Harley Owners Group, said the parking situation in the city is only getting worse, and American Brotherhood Motorcycle Club president John Cartier said bicyclists get help from the city, while motorcyclists don’t. “We pay $42.50 in registration fees and pay our taxes, too. We make our contribution and we’re not getting anything back. We just want a level of equality.”

Normally, if you're buying a new car and you have a trade-in, you will only be charged sales tax on what you pay. But Rhode Island riders are roaring mad about an old law that forces motorcycle buyers to pay taxes on the full price of the bike regardless of the value of your trade-in.

Richard Unsworth of North Scituate, RI complained to a local news station that he was burned by $600 in excess sales tax when he traded in his old bike on a new Harley-Davidson. "When I went to the registry I expected to pay about $1,100 in taxes," he said. "When I got done, it was like $1,700!"

That’s because Unsworth was charged sales tax on the full price of the motorcycle, even though he had a trade-in valued at $7,500. "My trade-in was taxed back in 1999," he added. "I'm paying again for the same $7,500! I don't believe it's fair."

An investigation by WPRI-TV Call 12 For Action uncovered a law in Rhode Island that only allows passenger vehicles to get a reduction in sales tax for the trade-in. Passenger vehicles, according to the law, do not include motorcycles or pickup trucks.

"This was a law that was actually passed in the 1940s when pickup trucks were mainly used by farmers and motorcycles weren't that popular," said RI Tax Administrator David Sullivan. "Now that it's 2012, things have changed, but clearly the law hasn't."

According to Sullivan, the revenue hit would be about $5-10 million a year if the General Assembly were to change the law to include all vehicles. That's not expected to happen in the near future. Although there have been several attempts by legislators to make the change, but it's been shot down every time.

An unprecedented federal government effort to seize the Mongols Motorcycle Club’s trademark has quietly become a quarter-of-a-million-dollar headache for the Justice Department, reports McClatchy Newspapers. Four years after prosecutors grabbed national headlines by seizing the Mongols’ logo, an appellate court must now sort out what the federal government might owe the club’s attorneys.

It could be a lot, in a free-speech case that’s also a cautionary tale about aggressive federal use of forfeiture to seize private property.

“What they did was an outrageous violation of the First Amendment, and an absolute abuse of forfeiture and trademark laws,” American Civil Liberties Union attorney David Loy told the paper. Rebuking prosecutorial overreach, a federal judge in Los Angeles ordered the Justice Department to pay $253,206 to Loy and Alan Mansfield, an attorney with Consumer Law Group of California, who successfully challenged the prosecutors’ attempt to seize the Mongols’ trademark.

Forfeitures are big business for the federal government. Last year, the Justice Department seized some $1.8 billion worth of forfeited assets. Typically, these are ill-gotten gains from drug trafficking, financial fraud and other criminal activity.

Los Angeles-based prosecutors claimed a huge haul in October 2008 when they announced mass indictments of Mongols MC members, and in addition to physical assets such as motorcycles, firearms and other property, prosecutors sought to claim the Mongols’ trademarked name and logo. “If any law enforcement officer sees a Mongol wearing his patch, he will be authorized to stop that gang member and literally take the jacket right off his back,” then-U.S. Attorney Thomas P. O’Brien declared at the time. But a judge in Los Angeles ruled last year that prosecutors had gone too far. The judge reasoned that the trademark belonged to the organization, not to individuals, and therefore unindicted club members should still enjoy the right to use it.

Last February, another federal judge added that the Justice Department had to pay for the trademark fight because the government “violated settled First Amendment and trademark law.” “The novelty of the government’s position did not make it substantially justified,” U.S. District Judge David O. Carter ruled. “Rather, it took unlawful action based on an ungrounded and unsubstantiated legal theory, and without sufficient factual support.” Because the complex case “arose at the intersection of forfeiture, trademark and First Amendment law, “ Carter added, attorneys deserved the fair-market rates of between $525 and $650 an hour for the 461 hours spent challenging the government.

The Justice Department is appealing the judge’s order to pay, however, with the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals likely to hear the case next year.

Lawmakers in Gaza have continued their draconian campaign against motorcycle usage, taking the bold step of banning the import of spare parts for motorcycles into the ancient Palestinian city.

Interior Ministry official Hassan Akashed has admitted that the move aims to directly reduce the number of motorcycles, which he claims are a main cause of car accidents.

According to, motorcyclists in the city have been subject to an ongoing crack down, banning them from riding after midnight, and restricting women from riding. The Interior Ministry recently announced that it was banning women from riding bikes or being pillion passengers, to limit accidents and “protect community values.”

Israel's blockade of Gaza has meant that parts for cars have been impossible to get hold of and the cost of maintaining them has become unsustainable for most. As a result, motorcycles have seen a huge surge in popularity. Just five years ago there were only about a dozen or so motorcycles in the city, but the number of motorcycles in Gaza had grown to around 15,000 by 2010.

Thousands of motorcyclists rolled into Belgium to protest an EU proposal for regular mandatory bike inspections. The law would be "expensive and useless," said representatives from the Federation of European Motorcyclists' Association (FEMA) who met with European Union officials EU headquarters in Brussels as more than 4,500 motorcycles roared through the city's streets, protesting the proposed law that would introduce mandatory EU-wide road-worthiness tests for motorcycles.

The new EU-wide regulations would supersede national safety inspection rules for four-wheel and two-wheel vehicles, and FEMA said the law would offer "no benefits expected in terms of safety, as proven by several independent studies."

Members of Belgium's Federation of Angry Bikers (FBMC) turned out in large numbers for the protest. "Only 0.3 percent of motorcycle accidents in Belgium and 0.6 percent in Europe are due to technical problems," FBMC head Joe Verrecke told the Belgian news agency Belga.

QUOTABLE QUOTE: "We keep having to choose among candidates who are so stupid they want the job, and so egocentric they think they can do it."
--Orson Scott Card (1951-), American author and political activist

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