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

1 comment to Black Thursday 2016