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Between the Lines February 2019 issue

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Full circle doesn’t even come close to describing this. Sixteen years ago, I was elected Assistant State Coordinator and wrote my first article for Between The Lines. Some of you were even around to read it. Times were different then. John “Coker” Richmond was the new State Coordinator. We still had a universal helmet law on the books in Pennsylvania. If something hurt when I got up in the morning it was because I fell down going to bed.

Now I have become Assistant State Coordinator again. A lot of water has passed under the bridge since that first time. My new boss is Tom Bogacki. We modified the helmet law. Places I didn’t even know existed sixteen years ago hurt every morning when I get up now.

I need to thank all of you. It doesn’t matter who you voted for in the A.B.A.T.E. of PA election. The fact that you were a member and cared enough to vote is the important thing. Your voice will determine the future of A.B.A.T.E. of PA.  The next couple of years will be challenging for A.B.A.T.E. of PA as we adapt to leadership changes and demographic challenges. That’s a fancy way of saying that Charles and Popcorn are working their way toward retirement and we aren’t getting any younger.

As we look forward and try to guess what the next several years hold, it helps to look back over our shoulder. A.B.A.T.E. of PA has influenced motorcycling in Pennsylvania more than any other group or individual. Period.

Motorcycle Safety Program? We did that. Helmet choice? We did that. Handlebar height, parking restrictions, accessory lighting, distracted driving penalties, and more? Yup, we did them all. Because of A.B.A.T.E. of PA, motorcyclists in Pennsylvania have it pretty good.  You can all be very proud of that.

But being in good shape doesn’t mean it will always stay that way. Technology and artificial intelligence are going to have more impact on motorcycling than anything since John Dunlop invented round tires with air inside them. The nature of motorcycles, the environment they are operated in, and the reasons people ride them are going to change as well, and soon.  It’s up to us to get with the program and stay relevant. I know we’ll get it right, just as we’ve met all the other challenges of the past.

In my May 2004 Between The Lines column, I kind of made a promise to my neighbor’s kid. It went like this…

“In May 2020, my neighbor’s kid will be about the right age for his first real motorcycle. He’s a regular little gearhead and I’ll bet he’s going to have one. I want him to enjoy his first motorcycle as much as I enjoyed mine. For the past twenty-one years I’ve been active in motorcycle rights organizations to protect my rights, which seems kind of selfish now as I look back on it. But now, a little older and hopefully wiser and having “come of age” I’m going to dedicate the next sixteen years to protecting his rights.”

Well, I’m close to having kept that promise.  But there’s another promise behind it that I want to make now. That promise is to do everything I can to make sure that if he wants to be part of it, if he discovers he has rights as a motorcyclist that he wants to protect, the organization that has done the job all these years will be ready for him.

Now, we’ve got work to do. Thank you for being part of it all.