MRF AUGUST 2020 Update
By Andy Kelly
On July 1 the full House of Representative passed H.R.2, the “Invest in a New Vision for the Environment and Surface Transportation in America Act” (INVEST). This bill includes five provisions that protect motorcyclists and acknowledge their unique place in the transportation system. Motorcyclists answering the call to action by contacting their representatives in Washington DC likely helped the approval and passing of INVEST.
There are a few important amendments in this legislation. The first is the reauthorization of the Motorcycle Advisory Council (MAC). The Motorcycle Advisory Council has been around for over 10 years which allowed federal policy makers, state highway officials and motorcyclists to discuss the unique requirements for riding a motorcycle as well as how our roads, bridges, and other infrastructure can be built better to be safer for motorcyclists. Also, this legislation creates additional dedicated seats at the table for motorcycle rights groups and manufacturers.
This bill also holds that states and local governments will continue to be prohibited from using Department of Transportation funds to “profile and stop motorcycle operators or motorcycle passengers using as a factor the clothing or mode of transportation of such operators or passengers”.
Another amendment was added by Congressman Tim Wahlberg and Congressman Mike Burgess in which “mode of transportation” was added as a required record-keeping criterion to a newly created grant program for racial and ethnic profiling. The program allows states to use federal money to collect data on traffic stops.
Ordinarily, states were only required to record drivers' racial and ethnic makeup. With this added language, states will be required to click the “mode of transportation” of the person being stopped as well. Motorcyclists will now be able to review state data on traffic stops and determine if motorcycles are disproportionately stopped by law enforcement
A separate amendment offers protection for motorcycles in the rollout of autonomous vehicle technology. The bill now includes specific language requiring that the Department of Transportation conduct safety studies on autonomous vehicles. Additionally, a newly formed working group on autonomous vehicles must include a motorcyclist safety group as part of its membership. As with the MAC, motorcyclists need a seat at the table where our safety and freedoms are being debated.
The bill also included an increase in funds for motorcycle safety The bill would increase the 405 safety funds made available to States for motorcycle safety by $1,473,283 for the next fiscal year, with increases through 2025. This is an increase in the program of roughly 34% over current funding levels. Under this bill the amount available to states in the next fiscal year would be $5,761’785.
The next step is to wait and see what the Senate does with the legislation. Hopefully it will be completed before the end of September when the other transportation bill runs out. It’ll be up to us to keep reaching out to our reps so that the senators will do their jobs.
Meeting of the Minds 2020 will be held in Indianapolis, Indiana, at the Waterfront Hotel and Conference Center. Each ticket purchased before September 1st will cost $145 for current members and $155 for non-members increasing to $155/$165 after September 1st. The ticket cost includes nine meals including breakfast on Sunday morning and the banquet dinner on Saturday night. Jay Jackson has told me that this hotel is very motorcycle-friendly.
I live near the last exit on the Pennsylvania Turnpike and it is a ten and a half hour ride from here. It should be an easy ride for almost everyone in the state. And this year Charles Umbenhauer will be doing a workshop on how PA changed their helmet law, along with a lot of other great workshops. I hope everyone is registered and willing to vote in the upcoming election. Your vote is very important and can make a difference in our future.