THE AIM/NCOM MOTORCYCLE E-NEWS SERVICE is brought to you by Aid to Injured Motorcyclists (A.I.M.) and the National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM), and is sponsored by the Law Offices of Richard M. Lester. If you’ve been involved in any kind of accident, call us at 1-(800) ON-A-BIKE or visit www.ON-A-BIKE.com.
NCOM BIKER NEWSBYTES
Compiled & Edited by Bill Bish,
National Coalition of Motorcyclists (NCOM)
DIRTY POLITICS BACKFIRES
In an historic mid-term election that saw the GOP sweep into control of the House and narrowly miss winning a Senate majority, as well as Republican gains in gubernatorial posts and statewide races, most of the electorate is simply happy to see an end to negative campaign ads and mudslinging by candidates.
One such attack ad could easily be confused with a commercial for Sons of Anarchy, with a Florida congressional hopeful being accused of being a member of “a biker gang linked to meth running” and acts of criminal violence.
The TV spot kicks off with a rumbling Harley motor and a gritty-voiced narrator growling, “Guns. Prostitution. Murder. That’s who Allen West rides with.” Paid for and produced by the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, the smear piece ends with, “We don’t need a politician who rides with gangs.” The Palm Beach Post reported that the Florida Democratic Party said a West supporter was wearing a South Florida Confederation of Clubs patch, and that confederation “has ties to the Outlaws organized crime syndicate.”
West (R) is indeed an active motorcyclist who writes a regular political column for a local South Florida biker magazine “Wheels on the Road” that supported his bid, and the Tea Party favorite did have members of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club providing security during his campaign, but the mudslinging appears to be the desperate last-gasp tactics of incumbent Rep. Ron Klein (D) to hold on to his House seat.
The Miami New Times called it the “Scariest Ad Of the Year”, but according to one of West’s fellow biker rag columnists, Chuck Lehmann, “This smear tactic by Klein backfired big time as the voters overwhelmingly gave, the underdog, Allen West a resounding 10 point victory over the pathetic Ron Klein, who went down to defeat in disgrace. My WOTR colleague/columnist Lt.Col. Allen West can now be called Congressman-elect Allen West, C.D. 22 Representative in Congress.”
VOTERS SEE RED
Fueled by discontent, record voter turnout nationwide not only gave the Republican Party the nod in local and national races, but they also saw red at the ballot box as Red Light Camera initiatives lost big on election day.
According to TheNewspaper.com, “Regardless of who you voted for, November 2nd represented a major win for everyone who opposes the use of red light cameras. In a handful of pockets across the nation, voters decided they were sick of the automated machines and by voting against the use of these devices, sent a message to law enforcement, as well as the companies that manufacture red light cameras.”
These cameras are often viewed as a revenue-generating scheme rather than safety devices, and many citizens feel that red light cameras even represent a violation of our constitutional rights. On election day, cities and districts across the nation decided to ban the use of these cameras, adding to a growing list of towns that have already voted to do so.
“The outcome of the voting is a major blow for American Traffic Solutions, the company that manufacturers a large number of the cameras,” reported Autoblog.com. “ATS tried hard to block these measures from even appearing on the ballot, but it was denied. The company was then forced to spend millions of dollars to attempt to sway the public to vote in favor of the cameras, to no avail.”
In Houston, Texas, which happens to be one of ATS’s most important accounts, a campaign was run against the camera company by brothers Paul and Randy Kubosh through their Citizens Against Red Light Cameras organization. ATS reportedly spent over $1.7 million, ten times more than the Kubosh brothers, yet ATS still lost the fight in Houston. Following Houston’s lead, red light cameras are now banned in Mukilteo, Washington; Anaheim, California; and Baytown, Texas.
NEW YORK RIDERS FIGHT DISCRIMINATION
In addition to the unprecedented harassment on highways by police manning motorcycle-only checkpoints, which is the subject of ongoing litigation by Aid to Injured Motorcyclists (A.I.M.) Attorney Mitch Proner, Big Apple riders are now faced with elimination of legal bike-only parking spaces.
As if it weren’t’ difficult enough for New York City motorcyclists, over the past decade bikers contend the city has turned up the heat on regulatory and legislative fronts, leading to growing complaints of harassment and accusations of discrimination.
There are only about 37,000 motorcyclists in a city of over 8 million people so they are a tiny minority, but the motorcycle community has begun to organize and fight back with a group known as “The New York Motorcycle & Scooter Task Force” (NYMSTF), working to ease some of these problems. Most large cities in the U.S. provide biker-only parking for good reason: Bikes and scooters take up less room and are more environmentally-friendly than passenger vehicles.
OSHA TELLS OREGON SCHOOL DISTRICT TO BAN MOTORCYCLE TRAVEL
Oregon Occupational Safety and Health Division officials have recommended that school employees be prohibited from using motorcycles as transportation to work-related activities after Principal Tiffany O’Donnell was seriously injured Sept. 13 in a motorcycle accident en route between two rural schools.
O’Donnell, principal of both Elk Trail Elementary School and Shady Cove School, was seriously injured while riding her Suzuki motorcycle between campuses when she was struck by a Nissan pickup truck that was making an illegal U-turn, police said.
State OSHA officials said the school district has not violated any regulations, and no citations have been issued, but cautioned that allowing employees to drive motorcycles for work activities presents a hazard to employees, as well as a liability to the school district. The school board is mulling over the recommendation, which is not mandatory.
School administrators are expected to drive their personal vehicle for work purposes, but it hadn’t occurred to district officials to dictate what kind of vehicle they drive, said Eagle Point schools Superintendent Cynda Rickert, adding that “We don’t know if the Board will move forward on a policy not allowing you to drive a motorcycle if you are doing school business.”
Distracted driving apparently causes fatal crashes affecting bikers and drivers of light trucks more than any other group on the road, according to 2009 statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Though the statistics don’t break down which operator was distracted, only that “distracted driving” affected one or more drivers in fatal crashes, you can be sure there aren’t too many bikers distracted by talking or texting on a cell phone while riding their bikes.
It’s estimated that approximately 959,000 traffic incidents last year were caused by distracted driving and 4,898 of those resulted in at least one death. As a result, Massachusetts recently joined 29 other states in passing a texting ban; almost all of those same states (28) have also banned cell phone use in some form.
However, a new insurance industry study says that such bans have not reduced automobile accidents. The report does not dispute the danger of texting while driving, but rather it suggests that banning the practice does not automatically produce safer roads.
“If we’re counting on texting bans to reduce crashes from distracted driving, they’re not doing that,’’ said Adrian Lund, president of the Highway Loss Data Institute in presenting the group’s findings in Kansas City during the annual meeting of the Governors Highway Safety Association.
The new study is not the first time the research institute has suggested that legislative efforts to combat distracted driving are not affecting crash rates. In January, the institute found virtually no change in crash frequency for states that had enacted bans on handheld phone use.
Lund suggested multiple explanations, pointing to prior studies that found many drivers are not heeding the texting ban, and may be lowering their hands and taking their eyes off the road to text more discreetly.
US Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood, who has championed awareness of the dangers of cellphone use and other distractions, immediately condemned the study as “completely misleading.’’
HIGH COURT RULES AGAINST SOUTH AUSTRALIA GANG LAW
Six of seven High Court judges have ruled that aspects of anti-“bikie” laws, which prevent members of “declared” motorcycle gangs from associating with each other, were unconstitutional as applied in South Australia.
Under SA laws passed last year to disband outlawed motorcycle clubs, the state attorney-general can “declare” an organization to be an illegal gang if satisfied that its members associate for serious criminal purposes and represent a risk to public safety and order.
This is the second resounding legal defeat of this calculating and reactionary piece of legislation, according to the United Motorcycle Council of New South Wales, a coalition of motorcycle clubs organized to fight such discriminatory gang laws. “This decision is an important milestone not just in terms of the fight against the South Australian legislation, but also against similar hastily adopted legislation of other states,” said Ferret, UMC Chairman.
Other Australian states, including NSW and Queensland, have enacted similar legislation but officials there believe that their legislation differs in key respects.
To celebrate the Supreme Court decision, members of rival clubs came together for a drink to toast a win against the very laws aimed at stopping them from associating.
But South Australian Premier Mike Rann said the ruling was only a setback in his self-declared war on bikies, saying he would “keep coming” at members of motorcycle clubs with new legislative measures.
SCOTTISH BIKERS PROTEST FUEL HIKES
Hundreds of Scottish bike riders formed a rolling roadblock into Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland, on Saturday, Sept 25th to protest skyrocketing petrol prices and increase public awareness of a proposed 1p increase in fuel duty.
Members of Fife Bikers blocked sections of the M90 as around 600 bikers slowly rolled into the capital, and organizers say they are prepared to do so again. Member Jim Seymour told the Courier newspaper that he thought the bikers had received a “fantastic” response from the public who lined the streets and overpasses to watch the demonstration.
Petitions handed out that day and signed by members of the public are still being gathered, and will be handed in to MSPs in Parliament who will be asked to take legislative action.
WEIRD NEWS: ACTOR FATALLY SHOT FILMING MOTORCYCLE GETAWAY SCENE
Actor Kirk Abella was masked and filming a getaway scene for the British film “Going Somewhere” when a watchman mistook the performer for a real bandit and fatally shot him.
The New York Daily News reports that when the director shouted, “Action,” Abella ran to his waiting motorcycle (and masked stunt driver) to make his film getaway — only to be grabbed by his shirt and shot in the back at close range by volunteer village guard, Eddie Cuizon, in front of dozens of spectators.
Police told the media that when the crowd heard Cuizon fire the gun they believed it was just part of the film — not realizing they were witnessing the actor’s murder.
The shooting took place in the Parian district of Cebu in the Philippine Islands, where criminals often use motorcycles to escape law enforcement.
However, the shooting was no simple mistake. Firearms are illegal in the Philippines, and before the incident the guard borrowed a friend’s .357 handgun and went to the police station — where he was informed that the filming was taking place. The watchman, accompanied by a police officer, then made his way to the film set to help secure the area. Police Chief Alexis Relado said, “I don’t know why he still accosted them.”
QUOTABLE QUOTE: “If you could kick the person in the pants responsible for most of your trouble, you wouldn’t sit for a month.”
~Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) 26th President of the United States