Legislative Update 1-30-2017

There are two bills scheduled for hearings today, a helmet reform bill and a bill addressing lane sharing.

SB 5156 Motorcycle Helmet Use:  This bill allows for adult freedom of choice for people 18 years old and older.  The underlying language has a provision that requires mandatory liability insurance for any person opting to ride without a helmet, which is an interesting twist to the perennial issue.  While the Washington Road Riders Association would not advise that riders not utilize quality safety equipment, we believe that motorcycle helmet usage, as with all safety gear, is a personal choice that should be left up to the individual.  Helmet mandates are a flawed tact, operating under the concept of “safer crashing” as opposed to the superior tact of more qualified motorcycle operation.

SB 5378 Modifying the operation of motorcycles on roadways laned for traffic:  This bill presents the same language that passed out of the Senate in 2015, which moves motorcycles to the left of the left most traffic on multi-lane (two or more each way) numbered state routes.  While the underlying language is not a viable option to most riders, what does exist is a legislative vehicle to further the issue of lane sharing/splitting.  The language can, and should, be amended to allow proper lane sharing.  It will be proposed today that the committee amend the language to match the language of Rep. MacEwen’s HB 1157 which allows for operation between lanes of traffic, not to exceed 35 mph total or 10 mph above the speed of traffic.

Lane Sharing Talking Points:

Accidents will not increase.
By moving between lanes the need to scan the rear 180 degrees of area is eliminated, and the need to side scan is lessened, allowing the rider to concentrate forwards, locating potential conflicts well in advance.
Maximum speed differential between bikes and autos will be 10 MPH (15 FPS) allowing a 2-3 car length minimum distance for rider reaction.
Injuries will not increase.
A study done by UC Berkley indicated that the optimum speed differential between a motorcycle splitting lanes and the surrounding traffic should be in the 10 MPH range. With the 10 MPH (15 FPS) speed differential any collisions that might occur will be more as a bump or brush than the catastrophic collisions that could occur at greater differential speeds incident with a rear end collision.
Vehicles will not change lanes into motorcycles.
With the 2-3 (minimum) car length advance scan available riders will see the potential lane change situation developing well enough in advance to mitigate the hazard. Any spot opening up in a lane that will allow a vehicle to change lanes will be spotted by the rider as it opens up so that they can respond appropriately.
As an overtaking vehicle, a motorcycle will still bear the responsibility incumbent with being an overtaking vehicle.
Enforcement will not be any more difficult than with the current statute.
Enforcement could even be easier, as an officer could make the discretionary call that lane sharing/splitting is being done in a safe and sane manner, therefore no enforcement pursuit is necessary.
High speed lane splitting (illegal under current and potential statutes) will continue to be problematic for pursuit and apprehension.

Comments can be submitted on line by following these links.  SB 5156    SB 5378 

If you don’t know yet who your representatives are (for shame), follow this link. 

Until next time,

Ride safely and legislate well,

“Texas” Larry

Government Relations

Black Thursday 2017

It’s that time of the year again, when the motorcycling community comes to Olympia to meet with their legislators to discuss motorcycling issues. The annual “Black Thursday” event, hosted by ABATE of Washington and the Confederation of Clubs, will be on Thursday January 19th.

The active issues for this year:

Adult freedom of choice for helmet usage: As always, ABATE of WA will be bringing forward legislation to restore freedom of choice in helmet usage for adult riders. I have yet to see the final language, but I do not seriously expect any major changes to the proposed legislation.  While the Washington Road Riders Association does not advocate that riders eschew riding with quality protective gear, the WRRA firmly believes that that decision should lie with the rider, not the government and supports ABATE in their efforts. For more information contact Brian Lange of ABATE.

Lane Sharing/Splitting:  There will be a proposal offered to allow lane sharing/splitting in various targeted areas around the state.  A final draft has yet to be introduced, but I know for a certain fact that the issue will be getting some sort of legislative attention.  All riders should contact their Senator and both of their Representatives to support the spirit of this legislation. (See the talking points below)

Lane Sharing Talking Points:

Accidents will not increase.
By moving between lanes the need to scan the rear 180 degrees of area is eliminated, and the need to side scan is lessened, allowing the rider to concentrate forwards, locating potential conflicts well in advance.
Maximum speed differential between bikes and autos will be 10 MPH (15 FPS) allowing a 2-3 car length minimum distance for rider reaction.
Injuries will not increase.
A study done by UC Berkley indicated that the optimum speed differential between a motorcycle splitting lanes and the surrounding traffic should be in the 10 MPH range.  With the 10 MPH (15 FPS) speed differential any collisions that might occur will be more as a bump or brush than the catastrophic collisions that could occur at greater differential speeds incident with a rear end collision.
Vehicles will not change lanes into motorcycles.
With the 2-3 (minimum) car length advance scan available riders will see the potential lane change situation developing well enough in advance to mitigate the hazard. Any spot opening up in a lane that will allow a vehicle to change lanes will be spotted by the rider as it opens up so that they can respond appropriately.
As an overtaking vehicle, a motorcycle will still bear the responsibility incumbent with being an overtaking vehicle.
Enforcement will not be any more difficult than with the current statute.
Enforcement could even be easier, as an officer could make the discretionary call that lane sharing/splitting is being done in a safe and sane manner, therefore no enforcement pursuit is necessary.
High speed lane splitting (illegal under current and potential statutes) will continue to be problematic for pursuit and apprehension.

The Washington Motorcycle Safety Program:  Many top training personnel from around the state have contacted me and expressed their concerns about the overall health of the program, as well as the immediate and long term future thereof. Over the past few years, the management of the motorcycle safety program that the riders of this state finance by their endorsement fees has seen an alarming shift from an open program dedicated to meeting the needs of riders for quality training to a more traditional, and at times entrenched, operation, more interested in bureaucratic accuracy than quality training.  It has also seen an exodus  of the top technicians of the program, dedicated people with years of riding and training experience who have decided to move out of the agency to concentrate on training.  I cannot help but believe that part of the problem is the fact that the current, although temporary, program manager, as well as the permanent manager have absolutely zero background with motorcycles in general, therefore no real, down to earth vision of what it actually takes to train novice and experienced motorcyclists.  While there is no immediate plans to offer any legislation, I think it is absolutely necessary that the Legislature hears the concerns of the riding community.

I’m quite sure that there is some issue that will ring with any rider, so it would be time well spent to get yourself to Olympia and make your voice known.

If you don’t know yet who your representatives are, follow this link.

Until next time,

Ride safely and legislate well,

“Texas” Larry

Government Relations

Black Thursday 2016

It’s that time of the year again, when the motorcycling community comes to Olympia to meet with their legislators to discuss motorcycling issues. The annual “Black Thursday” event, hosted by ABATE of Washington and the Confederation of Clubs, will be this coming Thursday (January 21st).

The active issues for this year:

Adult freedom of choice for helmet usage: SB 5198 will allow adults 18 years of age and older to make their own choice as to whether they wear protective headgear. While the Washington Road Riders Association does not advocate that riders eschew riding with quality protective gear, the WRRA firmly believes that that decision should lie with the rider, not the government and supports ABATE in their efforts. For more information contact Brian Lange of ABATE.

Modifying the operation of motorcycles on roadways laned for traffic:  SB 5623 (original language) bill would make lane sharing (splitting) legal during a strictly defined scenario. The traffic can be going no greater than 25 mph, and the rider cannot exceed traffic speed by more than 10 mph. The bill was amended in the Senate, more to keep the bill in play than anything else, with the intention of restoring the language top a more acceptable form in the House. The bill was returned to the Senate at the close of business at the end of the last special session. At the request of Abate I have been working with Senator Sheldon’s office to get the bill moved back to the House for further action. All riders should contact their Senator and both of their Representatives to support this legislation.  (See the talking points below)

Lane Sharing Talking Points

  • Accidents will not increase.
    • By moving between lanes the need to scan the rear 180 degrees of area is eliminated, and the need to side scan is lessened, allowing the rider to concentrate forwards, locating potential conflicts well in advance.
    • Maximum speed differential between bikes and autos will be 10 MPH (15 FPS) allowing a 2-3 car length minimum distance for rider reaction.
  • Injuries will not increase.
    • With the 10 MPH (15 FPS) speed differential any collisions that might occur will be more as a bump or brush than the catastrophic collisions that could occur at greater differential speeds incident with a rear end collision.
  • Vehicles will not change lanes into motorcycles.
    • With the 2-3 (minimum) car length advance scan available riders will see the potential lane change situation developing well enough in advance to mitigate the hazard. Any spot opening up in a lane that will allow a vehicle to change lanes will be spotted by the rider as it opens up so that they can respond appropriately.
    • As an overtaking vehicle, a motorcycle will still bear the responsibility incumbent with being an overtaking vehicle.
  • Enforcement will not be any more difficult than with the current statute.
    • Enforcement could even be easier, as an officer could make the discretionary call that lane sharing/splitting is being done in a safe and sane manner, therefore no enforcement pursuit is necessary.
    • High speed lane splitting (illegal under current and proposed statutes) will continue to be problematic for pursuit and apprehension.

Addressing the scheduling of the Washington Motorcycle Safety Advisory Board:  HB 1655  This is an issue that has been brought to the WRRA by many concerned riders. The underlying bill would codify the scheduling of the meetings as quarterly, on either the 1st or 2nd Friday of the 3rd month of each quarter, at 19:00. The bill was heard in the House Transportation Committee, and DOL came into the hearing with their bureaucratic guns blazing, accusing the board of “unprofessional” conduct, using the meetings as a social hour.  The agency assertion was that the only reason for moving the board meetings to “regular working hours” and during the middle of the week was to align the board operations with the other advisory boards under the auspices of DOL.  I got the distinct impression that the Chair of the committee was not particularly amused or pleased by the message that the agency lobbyist delivered.  The result of the hearing was leveraging a meeting with the Director of DOL, a meeting that was less than satisfying. (I was stonewalled to the maximum.)  In a nutshell, the agency has pressed to make the Advisory Board more of a bureaucratic rubber stamp for agency decisions, not as a valid input from the riding community that actually pays for the program.  The program is one that the riders pay for, and it is only proper that there is maximum transparency and access.

Addressing liability insurance requirements for motorcycles:  HB 2393  This is yet again an attempt to remove the exemption from mandatory liability insurance that has been afforded motorcyclists.  While it is not a wise practice to ride without liability insurance, which protects other parties in the event that a rider causes them damage as well as protects a rider’s assets from aggrieved parties, the idea of a government mandate that forces riders to do business with an industry that does not wish to universally do business them is problematic.  Absent a method to move previously undefined consumers into the risk pool without causing them fiscal damage is the crux of this issue.  I have met with the prime sponsor and expressed our concerns\, and she was appreciative of our concerns.  Although the bill is getting a hearing on the 20th, I do not foresee this issue gaining a lot of traction during a short session.

Modifying the operation of the Interstate 405 express toll lanes:  SB 6152  This measure is a result of the myriad of problems erupting from the implementation of the new HOT lane system on I-405.  The underlying legislation rolls the project back to a single lane in each direction vice the current two lanes.  It is generally understood that this legislation is to be used as a conversation starter about the larger issue of how the entire system is operating.  There was a hearing on the 14th where I presented the trials and tribulations of trying to incorporate motorcyclists into this system.  

I’m quite sure that there is some issue that will ring with any rider, so it would be time well spent to get yourself to Olympia and make your voice known.

If you don’t know yet who your representatives are, follow this link.

Until next time,

Ride safely and legislate well,

“Texas” Larry

Government Relations

MRF CALL TO ACTION – Strike Section 102 from H.R. 2577

Please take action as soon as possible.
URGENT CALL TO ACTION
June 2, 2015
The United States House of Representatives will vote on a measure that could be detrimental to motorcyclists. H.R. 2577 is an appropriations bill that funds the Department of Transportation, among other things. Especially concerning is section 102. Section 102 would allow the Secretary of Transportation or his designee to engage in activities with States and State legislators to consider proposals related to the reduction of motorcycle fatalities. This seemingly innocent provision is a direct attack on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) lobby ban.

Congressman Tim Walberg (MI) and Jim Sensenbrenner (WI) have filed an amendment that would strike this language. Call your Congressman and ask that they support the Walberg/Sensenbrenner amendment to strike section 102 from H.R. 2577.

H.R. 2577, the Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) act will be voted on as early as Wednesday June 3rd. We need to call every Congressman immediately. The House floor schedules are hectic and subject to change so please make your calls soon.

You can find your Representative here: www.house.gov/representatives/find/

Find the full list of United States House of Representatives and their phone numbers at www.house.gov/representatives/

You can also use the Capitol Switchboard: (202) 224-3121

This is an urgent and important phone call. Remember, you are the guardians of motorcycling. Please answer the call to action.