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NCOM Coast To Coast Biker News for February 2017

Distractions, other drivers, expanding markets, lane splitting and NH handlebars

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

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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 www.ON-A-BIKE.com.

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

It is with great sadness that we report the death of longtime Freedom Fighter, Butch Harbaugh, former Chairman of the National Coalition of Motorcyclists - Legislative Task Force (NCOM-LTF), among other positions. Butch passed away February 7th from heart failure and cancer.

“When I began as the AIM (Aid to Injured Motorcyclists) and NCOM Attorney for Oregon back in the late 1980's, Butch was actively involved with ABATE, and with BikePAC since it was founded,” recalls Sam Hochberg, AIM Attorney Emeritus, and now Of Counsel to Christopher Slater, Oregon & Washington AIM Attorney. “He spent many years as the lobbyist for ABATE, and was well-known, respected and liked by many in the legislature in Salem.”

A biker rights activist since the 1970s, Butch attended and helped organize many STEAM conferences and ABATE/BikePac planning retreats. He was a regular at many ABATE runs around the state, often helping AIM Chief of Staff “Gunny”, now retired, at the AIM/NCOM tables, and was known and highly respected in the biker's rights community nationwide.

Butch also participated in many NCOM Conventions, and in 2003 was bestowed with the Ron Roloff Lifetime Achievement Award, NCOM’s highest tribute. This year’s 32nd Annual Convention, to be held over Mother’s Day weekend May 11-14th in Reno, Nevada at the Silver Legacy Resort Casino, will be dedicated in his honor.

For the past dozen or so years, Butch lived with his loving wife Laura in Rigby, Idaho, where he enjoyed riding his Panhead and was active in the home-brewing community. Always friendly, engaging and enthusiastic about motorcycles and biker's rights, he will be greatly missed.

With the 32nd Annual NCOM Convention in Reno just weeks away, at this time the National Coalition of Motorcyclists is requesting that MROs, motorcycle clubs, and riding associations submit the names of those members and supporters who have died since last May, so that we may honor their memories during the traditional “Ringing of the Bell” tribute to fallen riders during the opening ceremonies. Dedications should be e-mailed in advance to Bill Bish at NCOMBish@aol.com, or can be hand-delivered at the Convention to “Doc” Reichenbach, NCOM Chairman of the Board.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is proposing new federal guidelines to provide a safety framework for developers of portable and aftermarket electronic devices to use when developing visual-manual user interfaces for their systems. According to NHTSA and the Department of Transportation (DOT), their “Visual-Manual NHTSA Driver Distraction Guidelines for Portable and Aftermarket Devices” [Docket No. NHTSA-2013-0137] will “encourage innovative solutions such as pairing and Driver Mode that, when implemented, will reduce the potential for unsafe driver distraction by limiting the time a driver's eyes are off the road, while at the same time preserving the full functionality of these devices when they are not used while driving.”

Driver distraction is a specific type of inattention that occurs when drivers divert their attention away from the driving task to focus on another activity. This distraction can come from electronic devices, such as texting or emailing on cell phones or smartphones, and more traditional activities such as interacting with passengers, eating, or events external to the vehicle.

The crash data indicate that visual-manual interaction (an action that requires a user to look away from the roadway and manipulate a button or interface) with portable devices, particularly cell phones, is often the main distraction for drivers involved in crashes.

In 2015, 10% of the 35,092 traffic fatalities involved one or more distracted drivers, and these distraction-affected crashes resulted in 3,477 fatalities, an 8.8% increase from the 3,197 fatalities in 2014. Of the 5.6 million non-fatal crashes in 2014, 16% were distraction-affected crashes, and resulted in 424,000 people injured.

At any given time, an estimated 542,073 drivers are using hand-held cell phones while driving.

Currently no safety guidelines exist for portable device technologies when they are used during a driving task.

An Australian study states “failure of other drivers to give way” as the most common factor in motorcycle accidents. Research by Monash University in Melbourne has found that human error was the primary contributing factor for 94% of bike accidents. “Whilst with single-bike crashes, rider error and loss of control were found to be the most common causes, for incidents involving more than one vehicle, it was found that ‘motorcycle crashes occurring in lighter traffic more likely involved an error by another driver, including such things as failure to give way’.”

The motorcycle crash research studied over two hundred and thirty accidents between January 2012 and August 2014, with nurses at the hospitals and crash scene investigators aiding with the compilation of the data.

“Whilst car drivers were responsible for the majority of accidents in less-dense traffic, it was the motorcyclist to be more likely at fault for most ‘urban’ crashes and collisions however,” Trevor Allen of the Monash University Research Centre told The Herald Sun newspaper, adding that this was most likely due to the greater frequency of danger; “Higher traffic density leads to more hazards and a higher level of difficulty for riders to move safely in and among traffic, compared with other vehicles.”

The research also found that the older the rider, the less likely it was that the rider was primarily to blame for the accident.
According to a study by the market research company Freedonia Group, global demand for all types of motorcycles is projected to climb 3.8% per year through 2020 to 113 million units. Internal combustion engine (ICE) models have historically dominated the global motorcycle market, but demand for e-bikes and electric scooters, motorcycles, and mopeds has grown rapidly.

In 2005, electric models accounted for just 22% of worldwide motorcycle sales. Their share of the market grew to 35% in 2015, as the use of electric motorcycles in China increased sharply.

"Multiple developed countries – particularly Germany, the Netherlands, and the U.S. – also registered rapid electric product sales growth during the 2010-2015 period,” said analyst Gleb Mytko.

Global demand for ICE motorcycles is forecast to increase 5.5% per year through 2020, according to Freedonia Group’s World Motorcycle Sales Study, with advances fueled by strong ICE product sales gains in a wide range of industrializing nations. As personal incomes in these countries rise between 2015 and 2020, more households will be able to afford motorcycles. Improving market conditions in the U.S., Western Europe, Japan, and other mature markets will contribute to growth as well.

Worldwide sales of e-bikes and electric motorcycles, scooters, and mopeds is projected to be flat during the 2015-2020 period because of declining product demand in China, by far the world's largest market for electric models, though demand for electric motorcycles outside of that country is forecast to grow at a double-digit annual pace.

In developed nations, e-bikes will continue to rapidly capture market share from bicycles.

Texas is contemplating becoming only the second state, after California, to allow motorcycle riders to split lanes in heavy traffic under certain conditions. Senate Bill 228 was introduced on December 9, 2016, and if passed would make it legal for motorcycles to ride between lanes of traffic on limited-access or controlled-access highways during periods of traffic congestion at a speed not more than 5 mph above the speed of other traffic, and only if that traffic is moving at 20 mph or less.

Lane-splitting, which was a long-standing but legally-ambiguous practice in California until it was made legal there in 2016, is common in Europe where motorcycles typically “filter” to the front of the line at intersections and ride between lanes of traffic in crowded cities. Lane-splitting advocates in the U.S. cite the safety of the practice overseas as well as its effect on reducing traffic congestion.
Legislation repealing the restriction on the height of motorcycle handlebars -- Senate Bill 27, by Senator Harold French (R-Franklin) -- carried the New Hampshire Senate by a voice vote on January 19 and has been referred to the House of Representatives where most likely it will be assigned to the Transportation Committee.

The current law prescribes that the hand grips can be no higher than the shoulders of a rider seated in the saddle. Charlie St. Clair, executive director of the Laconia Motorcycle Week Association, told the Laconia Daily Sun that if the House endorses and the governor signs the bill, New Hampshire will become the 19th state and first in New England not to restrict the height of handlebars, but it’s not clear whether the restriction will be lifted before the 94th running of Laconia Motorcycle Week in June.

As the host of the nation's oldest rally, which attracts visitors from across the country, St. Clair said that New Hampshire should not impose restrictions that may inconvenience motorcyclists from other states. Limits in other states vary considerably from shoulder height in Massachusetts, Maine and Connecticut, to eye level in some states and to heights above the saddle measured in inches in others. Most restrictions on high bars, called "ape hangers" were introduced in the 1960s. Although touted as a safety measure, many motorcyclists claimed the restrictions were imposed to provide police with a pretext for stopping and searching bikers.

Legislation has been introduced (House Bill No. 1631 by Representative Steve Hopkins R-D7) which would “reduce the sales tax rate on retail sales of motorcycles from 7% to 5%,” as well as reduce the sales tax on other agricultural and farming products. On February 15, the legislation was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee.


According to the Massachusetts Motorcycle Association (MMA), a recent report on quincy.com indicating that the City of Quincy, MA, has instituted a ban against any motorcycle being ridden between the hours of Midnight and 5am, unless exempted for work or emergency purposes, is NOT correct.

Although such a proposal was indeed filed, the council member who introduced it “immediately asked that it be withdrawn” after learning that such a proposal would not be legal.


The 32nd annual NCOM Convention will be held Mother’s Day weekend, May 11-14, 2017 at the Silver Legacy Resort-Casino, located at 407 N. Virginia St. in Reno, Nevada so reserve your room now for the special NCOM rate of $99 by calling (800) 687-8733 and mention “GNCOM17”.

The largest gathering of motorcycle rights activists in the world, this year’s NCOM Convention will draw over a thousand concerned bikers from across the country to the “Biggest Little City in the World” to engage in serious discussions on topics of concern to all riders.

All motorcyclists are welcomed and encouraged to participate in the many meetings, seminars and group discussions that focus on legislative efforts and litigation techniques to protect our riders’ rights and preserve Freedom of the Road.

Topics will range from legal and legislative issues to organizational effectiveness, with Special Meetings for Veterans Affairs, Women in Motorcycling, Clean & Sober Roundtable and World of Sport Bikes, as well as the Christian Unity Conference and Confederation of Clubs Patch Holders Meeting.

NCOM has successfully outreached to numerous segments of the motorcycling community in an effort to unite for our rights, both legal and legislatively, and has become a unifying voice amongst North America’s motorcycle rights organizations (MROs), motorcycle clubs, women riders, religious riding organizations, touring groups, trikers, sportbikers, and minority motorcyclists.

To pre-register for the 2017 NCOM Convention, contact the National Coalition of Motorcyclists at (800) 525-5355 or visit www.ON-A-BIKE.com.
QUOTABLE QUOTE: “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”
~ Benjamin Franklin (1706-1790), statesman, author, and inventor

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