MRF JULY 2021 Update
By Andy Kelly
This year, our annual “Bikers Inside the Beltway” was held on May 18. As you know, one of the best ways to prepare for Bikers in the Beltway is scheduling appointments to visit and talk to your representatives in Washington, D.C.
Lenny Young did an excellent job of contacting all the representatives from Pennsylvania and asking about in-person appointments. When all was said and done, we were able to secure two in-person appointments—and it seemed like both representatives and their office staff were just as excited about seeing us as we were about seeing them. Being that we motorcyclists were the first to meet with the representatives after the COVID-19 shutdown, they may remember us and our dedication to what we love. And perhaps going forward they'll be more willing to listen and talk to us.
One representative we met with was Fred Keller, a former member of Jack’s Mountain who seemed very interested in all the issues we had to talk about. In the past, Representative Keller has been very supportive of motorcycle issues.
Our second in-person appointment was with Representative Brian Fitzpatrick. Two years ago, we spoke with Representative Fitzpatrick's legislative assistant who was not too interested in hearing about motorcycle issues. This year, however, we had the great fortune of sitting down with Congressman Fitzpatrick himself and talking to him directly about our passions and concerns. He was very interested in all we had to say and became a cosponsor of the Motorcycle Advisory Council Reauthorization Act, H.R. 2141.
We also discussed the Motorcycle Anti-Profiling House Resolution 366 which passed the senate unanimously last session but can’t get through the house. Another big issue is the Highway Bill. The last session of congress, the Highway Bill went through the house and got hung up in the senate.
The MRF successfully had numerous amendments added to the bill: Preserving the Motorcycle Education and Awareness Program Grant Funding (sec. 3001), Preserving the ban on federally funding for motorcycle-only checkpoints (Sec. 3011), Preserve the Motorcycle Advisory Council (MAC) to advise federal highway administration (Sec 3013), Preserving language that collects Motorcycle Profiling data (requiring law enforcement to document what type of vehicle you are operating) Preserve mandates that autonomous vehicles must detect and respond to motorcycles, Preserving the language that motorcycles are not considered a single-occupancy vehicle for HOV lane access, and ensuring that motorcycles are not banned from federally funded roads.
The MRF would like to see the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reexamine the definition of a motorcycle which has not been done since 1967 and really needs a hard look.
The Consumer Protection and Fuel Transparency act was also a discussion topic. This is extremely important because if the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) gets what they want, an E15 blend available all year long, it will affect every air-cooled engine out there and void warranties on all of them. They also want to strip away any warning labels on fuel pumps.
One last and very important issue is making sure motorcycles have a seat at the table concerning Automated Driving Systems. I have read that a few companies have stopped autonomous driving system efforts, but as long as there is one out there, we need to make sure that motorcycles are accounted for in any of the software that operates an autonomous vehicle. Even if the vehicle is delivering pizzas on public roads.