The session is coming, the session is coming!

Well, campers, it’s that time of year again. LIke salmon returning to the rivers, legislators are returning to Olympia, with lots of new members for us to educate on motorcycle issues.  It’s a good thing Black Thursday is coming up on the 17th.

What is Black Thursday?

Black Thursday is the day that has been set aside for riders from all over the state to come to Olympia to meet with their legislators and discuss the issues that matter to motorcyclists.  ABATE of Washington has reserved the Columbia Room, first floor of the Legislative building, as a central meeting point.  They will be there with talking point packets for each legislator, so drop on by there before you head to your appointments (that I know you are setting up, hint).

Right now there are several issues that are on the agenda.

Commute Trip Reduction:

Senator Rolfes has once again committed to championing our cause in getting motorcycles included in the Commute Trip Reduction Act by making preferential parking for motorcycles as one of the recommendations in the act, just as is done with car pools.  The measure would also add language to the RCW to further strengthen our right to the HOV lanes.

Parking incentives will make motorcycle commuting more practical to users and infrastructure planners.

  1. Motorcycles exhibit a much smaller footprint in a commuting lane, and are more agile in operation, with the potential benefit of easing congestion by facilitating better traffic flow.  In urban “stop and go” driving situations the space utilized by one full sized car can be filled with 2-3 motorcycles.
  2. Dedicated parking areas for motorcycles will add to the overall security of the motorcycles by grouping them together.  (Safety in numbers)
  3. Has the possibility to free up real estate currently being expended on single bike per parking space.  With properly arranged and laid out parking areas, up to three motorcycles can be stored in the space normally allotted to a single vehicle.

HOV access:

By moving motorcycles from the main stream of high density rolling slowdowns to the more freely moving HOV lanes, the motorcycle operator has less exposure to encroachment and/or collision.

  1. By being in a steadily flowing stream as opposed to a “stop and go” stream rear exposure to inattentive drivers is seriously lessened.
  2. By being to the far side of the multi lane roadway the possibility of encroachment from suddenly merging traffic is minimized.  There becomes only one side to defend while proceeding through traffic, with the other side becoming an escape route.

The proposed language removes some of the vagueness from when motorcycles are allowed HOV lanes access.

Malfunctioning Traffic Signals:

  1. Although part of the traveling public, motorcyclists have been hindered in their movements by the failure of detection loops and optical sensors to recognize their presence at many traffic signals.  The Washington State Legislature has been asked to address and remedy within the law when the signals fail to respond to motorcycles.
  2. Traffic intersections are second to left turn right-of-way violations in terms of vulnerability for motorcyclists.  When lights do not sense a motorcycle, exposure to the possibility of a rear-end collision increases, especially in low traffic scenarios where a motorist is more likely to miss seeing a stranded motorcyclist.  This presents a hazard to not only the motorcyclist but also to the surrounding traffic, as well as a potential liability to the municipality in charge of the signaling system.
  3.  Currently there is no safe and legitimate method for getting clear of a signal that will not sense a motorcycle.  If in the left turn lane, there is no provision for a vehicle to merge back into the flow of traffic and go straight.  Even if it was legal, this maneuver is quite hazardous, with a rider unexpectedly merging from a dead stop into an unsuspecting traffic flow.  For the rider in the though lane, the option of making a right on red, followed by a u-turn, is much more hazardous than simply waiting until traffic is clear and, exercising due caution, proceeding through the intersection as if the red light was a stop sign.

There are now 12 states that have enacted a law that provides immediate remedy to motorcyclist when they encounter a traffic signal that does not recognize the presence of a motorcycle.  There is no data to show that crashes have increased as a result.  To date, no state has tried to rescind it.  It is a sound and reasonable solution to an existing problem.

Representative Ruth Kagi has introduced a bill to tighten up the requirements when loads need to be covered when going down the highway, along with the way the trucks are loaded.  If the bill passes the truckers will no longer be able to heap the materials in the center of the box while keeping the edges below the  sides and not tarp the load down.  It’s being heard in the House Transportation Committee this coming Thursday at 15:30.
Helmet Requirement Reform:
There will be another bill dropped to allow adult freedom of choice in helmet usage.  The WRRA does not advocate riding without the proper preparation and equipment, but we strongly advocate riders be allowed to make that choice.
Now, drop the mouse and get on the phone.  Call your representatives and set up those appointments.

If you don’t know yet who your representatives are, drop and give me 20, take 15 laps of the outfield, then hit this link.  (Poke the button)

Ride safely and legislate well,

“Texas” Larry

Government Relations and Junior Blogger

2 comments to The session is coming, the session is coming!

  • Mr Fail Whale

    Pretty dumb move to try adding helmetless riding to this law. It ensures that your bill will go down in flames. You’ve got rocks in your head if you think that anyone is going to sign a bill with that nonsense written in it in this day/age. If they were going to add anything to this bill, they should be adding the requirement of motorcycles to carry insurance, just like any other vehicle on the road. It’s the year 2013 if you checked your calendar lately. The general public wants motorcyclists to wear helmets and be financially responsible in an accident. Ask around if you don’t believe me.

  • Thanks for your uninformed input. If you at all looked at what we are doing you would understand that these are separate bills. We may have rocks in our heads; maybe we want to keep them there. Being hard headed is part of what helped us get the anti-profiling bill passed, the parade bill passed, and is giving us strong support for the red light bill and the shorrows issue fixed. It is a part of why we have strong support for repealing the helmet law in the senate and the house. I am very aware of the year, are you? Do you know that Michigan just last year repealed their helmet law? I cannot speak for WRRA but I am with ABATE of Washington and I know our goal is to get government off our back. Not to invite them, or even worse, help them to put more regulation on my back. We as American Bikers need to take more responsibility for ourselves and not depend on government to mandate it. I don’t care what the “general public” has to say about what they think I should do to protect myself. I am an adult and very capable of making those choices all on my own. Did you know that statistically motorcyclist, even in helmet choice states, put less burden on the public then cage drivers? I do ask around, I ask motorcyclist what they want. The majority want freedom of choice when it comes to helmets. I do not ask non riders what they think is best for us. If you don’t ride I don’t care what you think about these issues.