Feb 18, 2013

Still Thinkin' About It

The TC_DualSport group is one of the few motorcycle discussion boards that I follow. Mostly, that's because I really like  these folks and recommend that every Minnesotan who rides a bike that can semi-qualify as "dual sport" be a part of this wonderful collection of rare spirits. Because I'm not a motorcycling homer, I usually find myself pretty much ostracized for voicing heretical opinions like the ones I have submitted below. Since I'm not much of a fan of crowds, organizations, clubs, or even family units, it doesn't bother me much to be slighted by people, but I don't hang around hoping for change either. So, it's saying something that I've been a lurker on TC-DualSport since 2005. Everybody else has either asked me to leave, moderated me into disappearing, or pissed me off so that I left on my own.

So when one of my favorite people on the list, Allon, asked me what I think we need to do to get lane-splitting and filtering legalized in Minnesota, I took his question seriously. As a reality check, please understand I don't expect any of this to happen, but once or twice in my 64 years I've been pleasantly surprised by human behavior and I'm willing to imagine the impossible even if I still believe it's impossible. So, this was my response:

--- In TC_Dualsport@yahoogroups.com, "allonm55344" wrote:
> So Tom, how do we change things here in Minnesota? There was a rumor that things were about to  change in favor of lane splitting in Tx a few years back. I wonder what ever happened with that.
> BTW, when I took my  advanced riding class in Israel, they taught it based on the curriculum from the California (I believe MSF) motorcycle safety course. They  specifically teach you to  position your motorcycle in between lanes when stopped in a traffic light. They also encourage lane splitting only when the traffic is at a standstill or very slow moving.
> Allon 

I'm probably misusing the term when I say "Americans," but Americans appear to be unable to focus on long term results. Maybe it's the 4-year political cycle, but to make this happen here we're going to have to take a consistent long view and one that will be opposed by the US manufacturers.

I think the Texas attempt got squashed in committee, again. I'd imagine that Dayton would oppose any attempt at a similar law here, unless we did a massive education campaign. The money and time that's been wasted on "Start Seeing Motorcycles" should be redirected toward a unified political and informational (propaganda?) campaign to inform drivers of the advantages of letting 1% of traffic move in congested areas. We (all motorcyclists) should stop being highway irritants and hoodlums and accept helmet law legislation, improved licensing requirements, and absolute compliance with federal and state noise laws so that we aren't automatically seen as a pack of gangsters and an overpriced, undervalue highway risk. Like Oregon, we need to start moving motorcycle fatalities toward zero. That will cost bike sales because many of the people currently on motorcycles should be relegated to closed course kiddy parks. To cost them even more, dealers who sell street legal motorcycles to unlicensed buyers should be prosecuted with the same kind of force that falls on liquor stores who sell to minors (and that offense should be ramped up too). When motorcyclists become good citizens and make a productive contribution to traffic, we'll get the benefits of public approval.

Right now, we're mostly a bunch of useless assholes who stage traffic-blocking, noise-making pirate parades all summer long, who crash by ourselves on country roads and whine about "right-of-way violations," and children who dress in gym clothes and pretend straight sections of the freeway are a race track. You have to do some good before you get something good.

My California "history" is anecdotal from a CHP I knew there in the 80s. He said that California did not have a law prohibiting two vehicles (or more) from occupying a single lane. Motorcyclists took advantage of that and, because they have been a significant (at least noticable) portion of California traffic, that law was not introduced. Now, lane-sharing is sort of formally acknowledged and California has always been a little proud of being different (more progressive and adventurous) than the rest of the stodgy US it's a semi-accepted practice and habit. Unfortunately, California squids are no smarter than ROUS squids and they are doing everything they can to piss off the general public and lose that privilege.

Thomas Day
Minnesota Motorcycle Monthly Magazine
All of the above is my honest opinion; biased and one-sided as it is. Motorcyclists need a representative organization more desperately today than any time in history and the AMA, ABATE, or any of the other gangbangers' "biker clubs" are not going to be it. The closest thing we have to a possibility of a motorcyclists' organization is Ride to Work and that organization appears to be only a little bit organized. Humans rarely see the need to get active until we're approaching a cliff and, usually, we need to be flying off of the edge before we actually get serious (think of the USA in 1932). I don't see anything like this happening with US motorcyclists, but if it does count me in. I'll even "join."


Anonymous said...

Depending on my personal mood swings I harbor desires to make a difference in the world. I have seen the changes in the bicycling twin cities scene over the years. There have been significant improvements in attitude towards and support of cyclists so...maybe motorcyclists can benefit someday. Just need some critical mass! Or not considering the shits going down fast.

theUg said...

I was sort of mulling over some kinf of non-profit ad campaign about white-lining, but other things, such as promoting responsible motorcycling and showing that not everyone is loud-piped morons, are also important. By the way, Arizona filtering prop was shut down couple years back exactly because no one set up (and pay for) educational campaign as part of the legislation, amongst other things.