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NCOM Coast To Coast Biker News for June 2014

Helmet Laws, Vision Zero, Discrimination of an American Legion Rider, Flying the Flag, Electric Cycles and more.

Compiled & Edited by Bill Bish, 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
Compiled & Edited by Bill Bish,
National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM)
The Obama Administration’s proposed GROW AMERICA Act, a four-year $302 billion transportation funding measure, contains a provision to allow NHTSA to begin lobbying states and state legislators “to consider proposals related to motorcycle helmet use laws,” effectively overturning a ban against such federal lobbying on the issue that has been in place since 1995.
But on June 9th, by a voice vote on the floor of 229-192 (10 absent or abstaining), the U.S. House of Representatives approved an amendment offered by U.S. Representatives Tim Walberg (R-MI) and Jim Sensenbrenner (R-WI) to strike that provision from the House’s version of the legislation; titled the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development, and Related Agencies Appropriations Act (H.R. 4745).
The full bill was approved by the House the following day, with the offending language in Section 102 of H.R. 4745 successfully eliminated, but the Senate version of this highly politicized and largely partisan transportation funding bill is still under consideration.
The Administration “strongly opposes House passage of H.R. 4745,” and “looks forward to working with the Congress on an orderly appropriations process…”
A controversial European traffic control plan referred to as “Vision Zero” has found its way to American shores, as NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio has gained support of the New York City Council for his Vision Zero plan to eliminate traffic fatalities by 2024.
On May 29, 2014, the City Council approved a package of new policies aiding Mayor de Blasio’s quest to end traffic deaths, modeled after a Swedish philosophy that treats all road deaths and serious injuries as inherently preventable, the initiative has become the centerpiece of the new administration’s transportation agenda.
Among the changes approved, which includes misdemeanor charges or loss of license for hitting a pedestrian or cyclist, certain “exhibition behavior” from motorcyclists will not be tolerated under the law.  The new rules governing motorcycle behavior outlaws “wheelies, doughnuts, burnouts and revving” -- a first offense would be punishable by up to 60 days in jail.
Bikers all across South Florida are threatening to boycott and protest a restaurant after a member of the American Legion Riders said he was discriminated against for riding a motorcycle and wearing patches that proclaim his military service.
Proud Navy veteran Robert Thompson of Pompano Beach told WPTV Channel 5 (NBC) that a manager at the Old Key Lime House told him to remove his leather vest because they do not allow “gangs or colors” and that “his kind” was not welcome.
Within days of the incident, hundreds of veterans and bikers began sharing what happened through social media.  A Facebook page was even created to boycott and protest the Old Key Lime House.  Fearing backlash, management at the restaurant suspended the employee who made the comments, and the owner has apologized, calling it “a terrible misunderstanding.”
A manager at the restaurant told the TV news station that their “no colors or gangs” policy should not have been applied, claiming that the restaurant welcomes bikers and veterans; although a sign still hangs at the bar that states:  “WELCOME ALL BIKERS – NO PATCHES or CLUB AFFILIATION ALLOWED – LEAVE IT ON BIKE”
Thompson said he did not speak out to cause controversy but to stop discrimination, no matter what someone looks like, from happening again anywhere.
Few U.S. states offer the option to get a personalized motorcycle license plate. Minnesota just approved a bill to create a special motorcycle license plate for wounded combat veterans which will be a shrunken version of the Purple Heart plates that car owners can get.
Due to wind resistance from flags fluttering behind his Harley trike, former Wisconsin State Senator Dave Zien was informed by Harley-Davidson that the factory would not honor the warranty after the clutch failed during a ride to Dallas, Texas for the National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM) Convention last month.
Zien, 64, a longtime member of the NCOM Legislative Task Force, says the Motor Company denied his warranty claim because of the excessive drag created by the flapping flags he flies from the back of his 2014 trike, which has 15,000 miles on it and is covered by a seven-year unlimited mileage warranty.
“All they said was, because I fly flags on the bike, there’s no warranty on the powertrain,” Zien told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel newspaper on May 15.  A combat Marine and Viet Nam veteran, the former lawmaker is a Hall of Fame biker who has set several long-distance riding records since the 1970s and says he’s always done so with multiple flags on his bike. His 1991 Harley with one million miles on the odometer has been on display since 2000 at the Sturgis Motorcycle Museum and Hall of Fame in South Dakota.
Harley-Davidson told the newspaper that Zien’s warranty is still in effect, but because of the addition of aftermarket products -- essentially, the huge flags -- Zien has voided any coverage on the powertrain and transmission.
“The issue isn’t that the flags are heavy,” Harley spokeswoman Maripat Blankenheim told the Journal-Sentinel, “but they provide terrific drag on the engine and the transmission, especially when the bike is at highway speeds.”
She added that the flag mounts that Zien used were not Harley products.  “When you alter a motorcycle with non-compliant products, that does impact your ability to make a warranty claim," Blankenheim said.  Zien currently has seven flags flying from his three-wheeler including full-sized Stars and Stripes, Don’t Tread on Me, U.S. Marine Corps and Wisconsin flags and an NRA banner that proclaims “Stand and Fight”, and he says all the flag mounts were installed at a Harley dealership.
The “Million Mile Motorcycle Man” is ready for a fight to defend the right of all to fly a flag on a motorcycle without voiding the warranty. “Ain’t nobody gonna stop our flags, not even Harley-Davidson corporate,” Zien told the paper.
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Motorcycle thefts continued to decline in 2013, a downward trend that began in 2008; and of five major brands only Harley-Davidson owners saw an uptick in the number of stolen bikes.
According to new data released by the National Crime Information Center, an electronic clearinghouse of nationwide crime data aggregated by the FBI, overall last year there were 45,367 reported motorcycle thefts nationwide, the equivalent of one every nine minutes, down 1.5%, even as bike sales increased.
Of those stolen, there were 3,907 Harley-Davidsons, up 4% from 2012, while the percentage of stolen Honda, Yamaha, Kawasaki and Suzuki motorcycles fell 2.1% (Kawasaki) to 9.1% (Suzuki).  Honda was the bike stolen most often, followed by Yamaha, Suzuki, Kawasaki and Harley-Davidson.
The thefts were highest in California, followed by Florida, Texas, North Carolina and Indiana.
Thirty seven percent of the motorcycles reported stolen in the U.S. in 2013 were recovered, compared with about 50% of the stolen cars.
Despite America's love affair with Harley-Davidsons, electric motorcycles are revving up U.S. sales, according to a recent article in USA Today, and two-wheeled e-vehicles are gaining converts among urban commuters and law enforcement.
Sales of high-performance e-motorcycles will rise at least 30% per year through 2023 in North America, cites a report last month by Navigant Research, a market research firm. Co-author John Gartner sees several reasons: consumers looking for refuge from high gasoline prices, increases in city traffic and improved e-vehicles.
Zero, the largest U.S. manufacturer of e-motorcycles, has boosted production from fewer than 100 units in 2010 to more than 2,000 this year, notes Scott Harden, the company's vice president of marketing. Compared to gas-powered counterparts, he says Zeros are cheaper to operate -- about a penny per mile -- and don't make noise, fumes or vibrations.
E-motorcycles sell best in the San Francisco Bay area, southern California, Florida and Texas, says Adrian Stewart, director of marketing for Oregon-based Brammo, which rolled out its first model in 2009.
The U.S. market faces increased competition as BMW launches an e-scooter this year, and Yamaha plans an electric entry in 2016.
Also on the way are three-wheeled electric tuk-tuks, vehicles without sides that have canopies and are common in Asia. Netherlands-based Tuk Tuk Factory is partnering with eTuk USA, which is seeking road-use approval for three models from the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Once again, France was the scene of enormous demonstrations with thousands of motorcyclists gathering in every city across the nation on April 12 and protesting at the newly proposed speed limit of 80 km per hour (50 mph) on the national road network.
The angry bikers accuse the government of wanting to impose draconian measures in the sole attempt to cash in extra euros from road users who simply won’t respect the proposed speed limits.
Paris alone saw more than 5,000 angry bikers blocking the city centre for hours and bringing it to a complete standstill.  Other cities across France also saw massive protests with thousands of irate motorcyclists showing their opposition to the reduced speed limit. Lyon, the second largest French city, was also paralyzed with thousands of bikers blocking that city’s centre in revolt against the new speed restrictions. Protests took place in 80 towns and cities across the country and were all organized by regional branches of the extremely respected and powerful Fédération Française des Motards en Colère (FFMC) also known in English as the French Federation of Angry Bikers.
The French government will further discuss the proposals and a decision will be made by the end of the year. The bikers are prepared to take up the streets again if need be to express their on-going ire.
Police in Riverton, Wyoming were called to the scene of a motorcycle accident where a 45-year old man reported that a Chihuahua dog had chased him down the road on his Harley-Davidson, attempting to bite the front tire and causing it to crash.
Answering the age old question, “What’s he going to do with it when he catches it,” the pooch fled the scene but was later apprehended and its owner cited for having a small dog at large.
The National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM) and Confederation of Clubs (COC) will host a “Coming Together” on Saturday, August 30, 2014 during Ignacio Bike Week, 1:30-4:30pm at the Sun Ute Community Center, 290 Mouache in Ignacio, Colorado.
“An opportunity to meet patch holders from around the country,” the agenda includes a COC Report by Richard M. Lester, Founder of AIM & NCOM, a seminar on the Defender Program & National Anti-profiling Legislation by Paul Landers, U.S. Defender Lt Commander and Liaison for COCs Texas, a seminar on Riders Rights and Liberties, and a seminar by Colorado Aid to Injured Motorcyclists (A.I.M.) Attorney Wade Eldridge on Search and Seizure & Other Rights.
The Coming Together will continue with a Confederation of Clubs Meeting with reports from representatives of each Confederation present, and conclude with a Show of Unity.
For further information, contact NCOM at 800-ON-A-BIKE.
QUOTABLE QUOTE:  "You ought to be extremely cautious, watchful, jealous of your liberty; for instead of securing your rights, you may lose them forever…"
~ Patrick Henry (1788)

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