2016 Delivered Big Wins for Freedom

Motorcycle flying the American Flag

As the year draws to a close, it’s good to take a look at the battles we motorcyclists have fought in 2016 in regards to our riding freedoms. But what’s that you say? Didn’t think that riding was under attack, that the days of the government going after motorcyclists was a thing from the 1960s? Sadly, nothing could be further from the truth. 

Luckily, 2016 was a year of victories for America’s motorcyclists. From shutting down federal funding for motorcycle-only checkpoints to protecting motorcycles from damaging fuel blends to protecting small shops’ ability to repair motorcycles and engage in free trade, the past twelve months have been chock full of wins for anyone who appreciates life on two wheels. 

Here are the top wins for motorcyclists this past year according to the Motorcycle Riders Foundation headquartered in Washington D.C.:

1.       The enactment of the FAST ACT – an updated law that addresses the nation’s surface transportation issues and specifically address challenges facing the U.S. transportation system, including improving safety, maintaining infrastructure condition, reducing traffic congestion, improving efficiency and reducing delays in project delivery. The law will be in effect until 2020 and allocates over $4 million dollars to go towards state programs that address motorcyclist education, training and safety.

2.      The prohibition of federal funding for motorcycle checkpoints – the MRF and its partners in D.C. fought for this for years in an attempt to end this often-used strategy by law enforcement that was employed to harass and conduct searches of motorcyclists. A section in the highway bill that went into effect in January helped to prohibit this practice by stating clearly that federal funds could not be used to conduct these checkpoints going forward.

3.       The reestablishment of the Motorcycle Advisory Council – Since 2009, motorcyclists have lacked a formal mechanism to engage with officials within the Federal Highway Administration. In 2016, with the enactment of the FAST Act, there was a provision that reestablished the Council, ensuring bikers a seat at the table and a ‘direct connect’ to our nation’s top highway safety officials when it comes to issues like driverless cars, road barriers and general highway safety issues and how they impact motorcyclists.

4.       The EPA rescinds its regulation affecting racing bikes and cars – In 2015, the EPA published a rule that would disallow individuals to modify their bikes or cars for track racing due to concerns over air emissions. After pressure from industry and Congress, in April of this year the EPA withdraw its proposed regulation on modified racecars and racing bikes. Though work still remains, this was a major victory over this ‘regulation happy’ agency.

5.       Introduction of a federal anti-motorcycle profiling bill – Increasingly bikers have voiced complaints over incidents where they have felt profiled or singled out by law enforcement because of their appearance, apparel, or because they are simply riding a motorcycle. This unjust and unlawful practice has led to activity at the state level, but in 2016 federal authorities took notice and introduced a bill addressing the issue and promoting public awareness and urging state law enforcement officials to condemn the practice in written policies and training materials. This was a major step in making this issue a national discussion.  

While the coming year will no doubt have its own unique challenges, it’s good to know that the freedom to ride a motorcycle is being defended by such organizations as the Motorcycle Riders Foundation and other national and state organizations.