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“You should be scared by what your federal government has planned for motorcycling.”

By Jeff Hennie Motorcycle Riders Foundation MRF

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I’m just going to come right out and say it:

This is a commercial. If the government has its way, motorcycling as we know it is coming to an end.

You might be a member of a motorcycle rights organization (MRO) or at least you know someone who is. You know the guy that travels to his state capitol once a year or skips a weekend poker run to ride with a political candidate in a hometown parade. That’s who you can thank for keeping motorcycling one of the best experiences of freedom one can do in America without question. The problem is we need more brother who step up to keep us free.

I’m not suggesting that you need to storm your capitol building after you read this. What I am suggesting is that you get out your checkbook and join an MRO. They go by a lot of different names, but they all have the same purpose: to keep legislators from removing the freedoms associated with motorcycling. Some go by ABATE, which can stand for a few different phrases, but the most common is American Bikers Aimed Toward Education. The education part includes educating sitting politicians, at every level of government, about every aspect of motorcycling.

The fact is that most people, and therefore most politicians, do not ride. They think it’s dangerous, dirty, and anyone who would ride a motorcycle has a death wish and is not as smart as the average American. That’s just the way it is. Most people in this country think we are just plain stupid. The fact is, we are a minority. Motorcyclists in America number around 7 million. That’s out of 300 million, which makes us just over 2 percent of the country. Out of the 7 million motorcyclists, just 250,000 support and belong to a MRO. We are the minority of minorities. It’s amazing that we’ve survived thus far.

Your elected officials think you’re stupid. That is one of the greatest insults you will ever receive. The very people who you elect and pay salaries to think you can’t think for yourself. If that does not piss you off, stop reading now.

Not all politicians are bad, in fact, due to the solid work of MROs, there are a fair share who are willing to stick their necks out for us. Well, that’s over. Things are changing rapidly.

I’m not saying the sky is falling, but I’m not crying wolf either. My organization, the Motorcycle Riders Foundation, along with the majority of national and state motorcycle rights organizations have suffered membership drops over the past few years. I know the economy is tight for everybody, but I’m not talking about an extra house payment, more like a tank of gas. For instance, an annual membership in the MRF is $30. That money goes to pay for the only office in all Washington, DC whose mission is to protect the on-road motorcyclist from his own government. That’s right, it’s just me and you.

Jeff Hennie, MRF lobbyist for Motorcycling
Jeff Hennie, MRF lobbyist for Motorcycling

Yeah, I work on helmet laws and I know that can be a thorny issue for motorcyclists, but to be honest, it’s in the minority of issues I work on. For instance, right now your federal government funds motorcycle-only roadside checkpoints and has allowed the EPA to authorize the sale of gasoline with up to 15 percent ethanol, which the Motorcycle Industry Council has already said will be harmful to motorcycle engines. Should you have to run the 15 percent blend and your motor is harmed, you have zero legal recourse. The EPA has gone on record that it’s looking to eliminate louder motorcycle aftermarket exhaust pipes from the country. You should be scared by what your federal government has planned for motorcycling. If it gets its way, it will change or eliminate motorcycling forever.

I’m not trying to send you on a guilt trip because you haven’t gone to a state motorcycle lobby day; every state has at least one day, if not more. It’s okay if you’ve never joined an MRO, but it’s not okay if you don’t start doing something now. We have enemies all around us who meet with legislators and fill their heads with lies.

When the legislators don’t here from us, they believe our enemies. I know not everyone can meet with his elected official, but there are people who can. MROs need your help. So, for the price of a tank of gas, become a checkbook patriot and join the MRF and your local MRO as soon as you can. Here’s a recent startling example:

MRF Breaking News!--
Inaccurate Study on Motorcycle Safety Praised by Governors Highway Safety Association.
Recently the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) praised the inaccurate study on motorcycle safety done by the Government Accountability Office (GAO).

What both reports failed to tell you is that motorcyclists are safer now than since 1984. Here’s why; in 2010 fatalities were almost identical to 1984, around 4,500 motorcyclists a year. However, what they did not tell you is that in 1984 5.5 million motorcycles were registered in the USA. Compare that to the 7 million registered motorcycles in 2010. That’s 1.5 million (22 percent) more motorcycles and the same amount of fatalities.

Source: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) Highway Statistics.

Both the GAO and the GHSA are pushing for what they believe is the silver bullet of motorcycle safety, the mandatory helmet law.

Proper riding gear should be left to the rider, not the government. 
When you look at States like Tennessee and Arizona that have roughly the same size population and then break down fatality numbers it becomes clear that helmet laws do not have significant influence. Tennessee has a mandatory helmet law and 121 fatalities for 2010. Arizona has no mandatory helmet law and had 88 fatalities for the same period of time. Even right over the border from Tennessee their neighboring Kentucky, which also has no mandatory helmet law, had just 87 fatalities in 2010.

Another area the Government agencies continue to overlook when dealing with motorcycle safety is rider education. If we cannot teach people to ride motorcycles we will have more and more fatalities.

Take New Hampshire for example. According to Robert LeTourneau, New Hampshire State Official Motorcycle Education Specialist, they only experienced 15 fatal motorcycle accidents of riders who took the class since 1990. That’s out of over 44,000 students trained or only .034%. All with no mandatory helmet law.

While mandatory helmet laws look good on paper they rarely work in the real world. The best approach to motorcycle safety is and will always be rider education and awareness campaigns. Teaching people how to ride a motorcycle in the proper way and educating the general public to look for motorcycles are the proven answers—not helmets.

--Jeff Hennie

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Reader Comments

I think it would be a very useful resource if Bikernet.com has a page listing the top MRO in every American state along with contact name, address, phone numbers. It would be a ready-reckoner for any biker to see and find the local MRO with the most muscle.

Ujjwal Dey
Mumbai, India
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Editor Response Hey,

I will look into it. Good notion, so we will make it happen.
This is a message that needs to be shouted at every motocycle event!

brandywine, MD
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
Editor Response At every rally, in every magazine, on every web site, and on TV.

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