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Ban Deadlines, Covid Obstructions, Infrastructure Guidelines, Checkpoint Funding, Motorcycle AC, Lane Splitting and more

By Bill Bish with images from the Bob T. Collection

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With governments around the world establishing firm deadlines for eliminating gasoline-powered vehicles, the technology that has driven transportation for more than a century isn’t ready to go the way of the dinosaur just yet, and combustion engines may be given renewed hope with the advent of synthetic fuels that are nearly as green as going electric.

Synthetic petrol, diesel and aviation fuels are all the subject of heavyweight pilot projects and are gaining interest fast as they eliminate the CO2 emissions from transport without the need for end-users to switch to new tech, according to

“While biofuels already offset their emissions to an extent, synthetic fuel takes a more direct approach by stripping CO2 from the air and combining it with hydrogen to create a petrol replacement,” explains MCN. “By using wind, solar or hydro-electric to generate the electricity for the electrolysis, the process is sustainable, and while engines using the fuel still emit carbon, the same amount is reabsorbed in the fuel-making process.”

The idea of using electricity to create synthetic petrol and then to burn that fuel in combustion engines might seem wasteful but the benefits are also significant, reusing existing infrastructures and giving new life to billions of combustion engines rather than reducing them to scrap. With similar power density to normal petrol, synthetic fuels also mean you don’t need to lug vast batteries around.

Several synthetic fuel projects are underway, including investments by Porsche and BMW, and the World Rally Championship is due to use 100% sustainable fuel as soon as next year.

While many governments seem keen on switching from combustion tech to all-electric vehicles in order to achieve carbon neutrality, “synthetic fuel could mean that more than 100 years' worth of bikes have a future.”


Like other manufacturers struggling with supply chain breakdowns, due in large part to the COVID-19 restrictions worldwide, motorcycle makers are coping with shortages of raw materials and parts and an unreliable global transportation system to fill showroom floors.

Complications from the pandemic have affected many of the logistics and production constraints, but bike firms are facing other challenges in getting motorcycles and parts to customers, including a global shortage of semiconductors, fluctuating demand, unpredictable sales and international trade tensions. Supply-chain disruptions, transportation bottlenecks and labor shortages are now pervasive throughout the motorcycle industry and many others.

COVID’s butterfly effect on trade has also left empty shipping containers stranded in some parts of the world and a shortage of them where they’re needed, pushing up shipping costs and causing further delays.

One major manufacturer had complete motorcycles aboard the Ever Given, the cargo vessel that ran aground and blocked the Suez Canal shipping lanes, which was subsequently seized by the Egyptian government and remains officially impounded months later.

For consumers, a combination of increasing raw materials costs, shipping difficulties and problems securing parts could lead to price increases as firms battle to meet demand.

The Investing in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America Act (INVEST in America Act; H.R. 3684), a half-trillion-dollar surface transportation reauthorization bill that sets the funding and rules for various ongoing U.S. Department of Transportation programs, specifically highways, transit and rail, has passed initial muster including pro-motorcycle provisions.

On Thursday, June 10, The House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee voted 38-26 along mostly party lines to approve the massive funding measure, which includes three initiatives that would benefit motorcycle riders;


SEC. 3011: STOP MOTORCYCLE CHECKPOINT FUNDING, not only expands prohibitions on motorcycle-only checkpoints, but also prohibits law enforcement activities that “otherwise profile and stop motorcycle operators or motorcycle passengers using as a factor the clothing or mode of transportation of such operators or passengers.”

SEC. 3013: MOTORCYCLIST ADVISORY COUNCIL, reauthorizes the MAC to “advise the Secretary, the Administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, and the Administrator of the Federal Highway Administration on transportation issues of concern to motorcyclists,” including “barrier design, road design, construction, and maintenance practices, and the architecture and implementation of intelligent transportation systems technologies.”

The entire 2021 highway bill will next be taken up by the House Ways and Means Committee before advancing to the full House floor.


Despite resounding bipartisan support, Oregon Governor Kate Brown (D) has officially vetoed Senate Bill 574, which would have allowed motorcyclists to travel between lanes of slow-moving traffic under certain conditions.

Gov. Brown sent a letter to the House and Senate on May 26 informing them of her decision to veto S.B. 574; “I have several concerns with the bill as currently drafted, particularly related to public safety and noncompliance,” Brown wrote in her veto message.

Under S.B. 574, motorcyclists would have been permitted to travel between lanes on multi-lane highways with a speed limit of at least 50 mph, but only when traffic had slowed to 10 mph or less on those roads. Motorcyclists riding between cars could travel no more than 10 mph faster than the flow of traffic.

Proponents said the bill was a compromise from past attempts to legalize lane splitting in Oregon and drew a distinction between the proposal and the law in California, where riders can travel in between cars at faster speeds.

Supportive motorcyclists testified in favor of the bill in droves, arguing the policy would help riders avoid being rear-ended in stop-and-go traffic, and would help clear congestion. Many pointed to a study from the University of California, Berkeley, that concluded lane splitting can be safe under certain conditions.

California has long allowed lane splitting, and Montana recently passed a law similar to Oregon’s failed proposal. Utah now allows riders to “filter” through traffic stopped at an intersection, while Hawaii permits motorcyclists to utilize the shoulder when traffic is congested.

With industries leading the way into a newer, brighter, cleaner future for transport, a new report from Forbes released a series of studies carried out by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) demonstrating that fatality statistics have been fluxing in favor of automobiles and trending against motorcycle safety.

According to the studies cited, motorcycle fatalities have increased to 21.46 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles driven when measuring intel gathered between 2009 and 2018, meaning that motorcycle riders’ risk has been increased by 15-21% -- and equating to 22 times that of automobile drivers.

By contrast, automobile fatalities are at an all-time low, with 1.11 fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles driven stated for the same time frame.

Data like this contributes to creating the Hazard Analysis and Risk Assessments (HARAs), used to determine Functional and Technical Safety Concepts, which guides design requirements for a new vehicle and in turn creates a safer product.

“Per a recent 2021 report prepared for Congress,” writes Forbes, “The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) has urged NHTSA to address the design of motorcycles including the following:
- requiring motorcycles to meet performance standards for passenger vehicle crash warning systems;
- mandating that new motorcycles manufactured for on-road use come equipped with antilock braking systems; and
- developing standards for stability control systems for on-road motorcycles.”


A new patent filed by Italdesign reveals a Smart Seatbelt System for motorcycles, describing all-new technology that they believe to be the answer to road safety for riders.

Of course, in the event of accident, riders are frequently taught to let the bike go. Disconnecting from the vehicle can reduce the severity of injuries, as the rider avoids entanglements with the machinery. To suit the seatbelt harness system for such unplanned dismounts, engineers at the Italian design firm equipped the software to detect when it's best to detach the apparatus.

For instance, if the rider t-bones another vehicle, the onboard computer could determine that it's best to lock the user in place, avoiding an additional collision with the vehicle itself. However, that doesn’t save the rider from tipping over with the motorcycle or scooter, as two-wheeled vehicles aren’t self-balancing. Conversely, in a high-speed crash, the system may eject the rider to decrease the likelihood of injury.

It all sounds a little James Bond-ish, but its inventor hopes the novel idea could attract non-riders, though the system may restrict passenger accommodations and slightly resembles a child’s car seat.

A new survey conducted by the Motorcycle Action Group (U.K.) has shown that nearly a third of motorcyclists would give up riding rather than switch to an electric-powered motorcycle, reflecting strong opposition to governments’ plans to electrify transportation and phase out gasoline engines.

The British government is currently working towards an ambitious plan to end the sale of petrol and diesel powered four-wheel vehicles in 2030, and it is presumed the ban will eventually cover all modes of transport.

The participants were asked whether they would be prepared to accept a full ban on petrol-powered motorcycles in future. Of 4,805 respondents, just 8% said they would, while 31% would be prepared to quit riding if their choices were limited to electric models.

For now, motorcycles have been a little forgotten in the government’s crusade to get petrol banned, but it likely won’t stay that way forever as 55% were ‘completely opposed’ to the idea of a future without gas-powered motorcycles, while a huge 83% wanted to see groups come together to oppose a ban on petrol and diesel.


With the 36th annual NCOM Convention in Des Moines, Iowa just weeks away, plan NOW to join with hundreds of like-minded biker’s rights activists from across the country, July 23-25, 2021 at the Holiday Inn Des Moines - Airport, located at 6111 Fleur Drive.

In addition to agenda items covering legal and legislative issues of concern to all riders, from helmet laws to lane-splitting to anti-profiling, this year’s Convention will feature a presentation on “The Demise of Gas-Powered Vehicles” by the NCOM Legislative Task Force.

Reserve your hotel room at (515) 287-2400, and mention NCOM for Special Room Rates.

Registration fees for the NCOM Convention are $85 including the Silver Spoke Awards Banquet on Saturday night, or $50 for the Convention only. For more information, or to pre-register, call the National Coalition of Motorcyclists at (800) 525-5355 or visit

QUOTABLE QUOTE:When an old man dies, a library burns down.”
~ African proverb


ABOUT AIM / NCOM: The National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM) is a nationwide motorcyclists rights organization serving over 2,000 NCOM Member Groups throughout the United States, with all services fully-funded through Aid to Injured Motorcyclist (AIM) Attorneys available in each state who donate a portion of their legal fees from motorcycle accidents back into the NCOM Network of Biker Services ( / 800-ON-A-BIKE).

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