Jun 14, 2010

All the News that Didn't Fit

More Biker Brawling
Residents of Minneiska, Minnesota watched while the Hells Angels and Outlaws motorcycle gangs fought it out on April 17th as one more episode of the Spring Flood Run soap opera played out. At least one biker was "cut and bloodied," but he claimed he "fell down." As the Trib asked, "If dozens of bikers from rival gangs scuffle in a parking lot in a small Mississippi River town and don't admit to it afterward, did it really happen?" One biker was legally carrying a concealed weapon and a pair (Nathan K. Houser, 29, of Burlington and Loren Francis Aikan, 63, of Madison, WI) were cited for possessing brass knuckles. No one was arrested. Highway 61, north of Winona, was closed for two hours as police questioned about 100 members of the Outlaws.

Rourke as Barger?
Just in time to correct any positive impressions the public may be forming about motorcyclists, Mickey Rourke is hoping to be part of a Tony Scott production of The studio was quoted claiming the part is "so perfectly tailored for Rourke that it is hard to imagine another actor who could more convincingly play a character who wears the hard miles and brawn of a grizzled biker gang veteran." Sonny Barger's life story in a new film tentatively titled Hell's Angels. Fox bought the rights to Barger's life story a decade ago, but is just now beginning to go into the development phase. Screenwriter Scott Frank has begun working on the project, with heavy rewriting of the original script, as a “Donnie Brasco-like drama.” A second major character will be a young cop infiltrating the gang. In 1983, before turning his face to pulp, Rourke played "The Motorcycle Boy" in Rumble Fish and "Harley Davidson" in the financial bust Harley Davidson and the Marlboro Man, so this could be yet another flashback moment for him.

Spanish Scrappage Plan
Spain is heading down the bankruptcy path that Greece has paved so thoroughly. However, Spanish motorcycles seem to have found the cash to take advantage of their country's Moto-E scrappage subsidy. In April, motorcycle sales increased 18% over the previous year. The Spanish AMA, ANESDOR, is urging the government to extend the Moto-E deadline to prop up the motorcycle industry.

Motorcycle Awareness Month in California
May was Motorcycle Safety Awareness Month by NHTSA proclamation (and National Digestive Disease Awareness Month, by Presidential decree), but the LAPD took a different tack in celebrating the month: by cracking down on motorcycle traffic violations. As announced on the LAPD's blog, "In support of Motorcycle Safety Awareness, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) will deploy extra officers throughout the month to patrol areas frequented by motorcyclists. Officers will also crack down on motorcyclist traffic violations and other vehicle drivers that lead to fatal or injurious motorcycle traffic collisions." The site stated that California motorcycle fatalities have increased 175% from 1997 to 2008 and at fault for that "dramatic increase were speeding and driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs by motorcyclists and other drivers."

Canadian Motorcyclists Join the Parking Protest
In protest of Vancouver's "zero-emission" parking spaces for electric scooters and motorcycles that exclude traditional motorcycles, 75 to 100 motorcyclists staged a parking protest that took up all of the spaces in a two block area of the popular Robson Street shopping district. The motorcyclists want more dedicated free spaces for motorcycles. The city has proposed special motorcycle spaces that would cost 1/2 the regular space rate. The entire city of Vancouver has only 42 motorcycle parking spaces. (More than downtown St. Paul and Minneapolis combined.)

Swedish vs. British vs. USA Motorcycle Safety Ads
Leave it up to the Swedes to produce an incomprehensible motorcycle safety ad. The Brits are a lot less subtle and infinitely more effective. Monty Python would be proud. I think. However, Michigan did us (the US) all proud.

RIP: Danny "Magoo" Chandler
Danny Chandler has died, at 50, from complications related to his paralysis. The AMA Hall of Famer, the winner of the U.S. 500cc Motocross Grand Prix, the first racer to win both the Motocross des Nations and the Trophee des Nations in the same year (1982), was a positive influence for everyone who knew him after the 1985 Paris Supercross crash that left him paralyzed. After several tough years (including a divorce and the death of both of his parents), Danny went back to work volunteering with DARE, organizing visits by top motorcycle racers to children’s hospitals through his International Riders Helping People organization, conducting his motocross safety program, and promoting mountain-bike races.

“In the long run the accident has left me a richer and fuller person. Had it not been for that I would just be another guy walking around. Now I have an interesting and compelling story to tell to the kids.”

Fingernail Painting Driver Is Convicted
Lora Hunt, the fingernail painting nurse, who ran a stoplight and killed motorcyclist Anita Zaffke in May of 2009, has been convicted of reckless homicide in a Lake County, Illinois courthouse. Her attorney, her attorney, Jeff Tomczak, argued that Hunt was a victim of sexual discrimination. He claimed she should have been on trial negligent homicide as she would have been for eating a sandwich or dialing her cell phone. "I do believe it is the underlying act of painting the nails that was the impetus for the charge," Tomczak said. "I haven't seen a reckless homicide charge for dialing a cell phone." (I didn't realize "two wrongs makes a right" was a valid legal defense.)

Prosecutor Mike Mermel argued, "It is not the same as biting a sandwich … it's a voluntary disablement. She might as well have been in the back seat making a sandwich."

Hunt will face as much as 5 years in jail or as little as a brief probation. She could be sentenced on June 15th.

Evel on Display
In an exhibit that will run from July 10 through September 6, the Harley-Davidson Museum will celebrate the life of "America’s favorite daredevil"; Evel Knievel. In the largest temporary exhibit the museum has ever attempted, Knievel’s life and legend will be featured in a 10,000 foot2 exhibit that will include "his signature leathers and cane, personal photographs and letters, collectors’ toys and memorabilia, and the rocket-inspired Skycycle X-2 used in Knievel’s infamous 1974 attempt to jump Idaho’s Snake River Canyon" and his favorite motorcycle, the Harley-Davidson XR-750.

Kawasaki Returns for the Police Dollar
After abandoning the police motorcycle market five years ago when the company dropped the KZ1000P, Kawasaki has returned with the 2010 Concours 14 ABS Police motorcycle. "All units are delivered with a tighter turning radius and custom law enforcement equipment, including: adjustable speedometer, a second wiring harness with 12 fused circuits and a separate battery dedicated to the add-on electronics installed by Beaudry Motors, Inc. An extensive selection of emergency equipment is available to satisfy agency requirements." Even with a $16-22k price tag, the 1352cc Concours is about $2,000 cheaper than the BMW or Harley competition.

Triumph Wants to 'Thank A Hero'
Triumph Motorcycles North America is offering up to a $750 discount to active U.S. Military service members. The company's "Thank A Hero" program is an attempt to "show our support for the sacrifices they make for all of us,” according to Jim Callahan, Triumph's North American Marketing Manager. “This is our way of saying ‘thank you’ for everything they do.”

Kawasaki's In-House Magazine Goes On-Line
Kawasaki's owners' magazine, Accelerate, has become an on-line 'zine. You can find it at http://accelerate.presspublisher.us/. Articles by Dr. Gregory Frasier and a variety of contributors are there, free for the reading.

Texas Motorcycle Cop's Bike Was on Recall
In January, Arlington, TX police Sgt. Craig Story struck a school bus with his Harley Davidson motorcycle and died of his injuries. The motorcycle was included in a December 2009 recall that warned of failure of the "front fuel-tank mounts, which can distort in crashes and cause fuel leaks and fires." Sgt. Story's motorcycle was scheduled for the repair at the time of the crash. While Story's motorcycle burst into flames, the department said there was no evidence that the fire contributed to Sgt. Story's injuries.

New Laws
April 12, Maine's Governor John Baldacci signed House Paper 1170 (An Act Relating to Road Noise), a bill that says "A person may not operate a motor vehicle in an area designated as a quiet zone by the department or the Maine Turnpike Authority and clearly identified as such by posted signs if the noise emitted by the motor vehicle exhaust system exceeds 62 decibels at a distance of 50 feet or greater." I wonder who that is aimed at?

Missouri House Bill 2421 would require "every applicant for a motorcycle license or endorsement shall show proof that he or she has successfully completed a motorcycle training course. . . "

New York Senate Bill 7302 "establishes the 'New York state consumers' right to repair act' which mandates automobile manufacturers to release vehicle repair information to vehicle owners allowing such owners to choose among competing repair facilities for the convenient, reliable and affordable repair of their motor vehicles." Senate Bill 7385 requires a motorcycle operator to keep both wheels on the ground at all times for a wheelie-free New York state. .

Deaths Down, Down Deaths, Down
According to the Governors Highway Safety Association, motorcycle fatalities were down 10% in 2009, from 5,290 in 2008 to approximately 4,762 in 2009. This was the first fatality drop in more than a decade, following the 2007 peak. You can find a copy of the study at http://www.ghsa.org/html/publications/spotlight/index.html. The reasons for the drop were explained to be "less motorcycle travel due to the economy, fewer beginning motorcyclists, increased state attention to motorcycle safety programs, and poor cycling weather in some areas."

GHSA Chairman Vernon Betkey said, “Clearly the economy played a large role in motorcycle deaths declining in 2009. Less disposable income translates into fewer leisure riders, and we suspect that the trend of inexperienced baby boomers buying bikes may have subsided.”

2010 NHTSA Recalls
BIG DOG 2004 Chopper, Bulldog, Ridgeback, Mastiff, Boxer, Pitbull: Loose connection between the harness connector and the electronic harness controller causes intermittent loss of power to headlamps a causes engine stall.

1 comment:

  1. "Clearly the economy played a large role...", i.e. motorcyclists could not afford the gas to keep customary appointments with fate. Always good when anyone cheats death.

    At Barber just now someone gestured at the Yosh Suz team, saying, "Those guys will be gone soon - they've already let about half their people go, and the rest are going crazy trying to do two jobs."

    But we carry on as if we still all had heads, hoping everything will be fine.

    KC

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