Pimping the Georgia State Patrol

It was my intention to write this editorial AFTER I returned from Daytona Bike Week.

You know what they say about “good intentions” right?  There’s a road paved to you-know-where with them, and sometimes in this business I feel like I’m headed there in the express lane with the throttle wide open.

Since the schedule won’t cooperate, I’m writing this a few hours before leaving for the annual spring motorcycle migration.  I fully expect this year’s event to be well attended, despite the lingering economic uncertainty.

I believe most of you are as tired of winter as I am.  Hopefully the lower hotel/motel rates (than in years past) should offset the higher gasoline prices and lure you down to spend a few days basking in the early spring Florida sunshine.

For some of you that will mean passing through my home state of Georgia.  If you take I-75 or I-95,  I apologize for the discrimination you will likely experience on the ride through.
Normally Georgia is considered motorcycle friendly.

However,  we have pimped out our troopers to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)  for a measly $70,000.

Let’s put this into perspective.  For less than the cost of two patrol cars and a motorcycle, the Georgia Highway Patrol allowed itself to be hired out to perform discriminatory traffic profiling, under the guise of “safety checkpoints.”

In their press release the GSP said they were focusing on high speed motorcycles and reckless riding and would be checking for non-DOT approved helmets, valid tags and motorcycle endorsements.

I’m all for safety but how does a check point deter high speed motorcycle riders.   And when did an improper tag become unsafe?

What’s worse is the GSP spokesperson had the audacity to claim the stop should only take about a minute for the rider who has all  the proper paperwork.

I don’t know about you but it takes me more than a minute to stop, get off the bike, take off my helmet and gloves and get my wallet, find my insurance card and license and then suit back up.
The brain trust who wrote that press release obviously never rode a motorcycle.

What chaps my ass the most isn’t the “safety spin” or “it’s not really an inconvenience” spin the Georgia State Patrol is putting on this.  What chaps me the most is how eager they are to participate in blatant discrimination for a little overtime pay.

Is there nobody in a position of authority in the State Patrol that has the moral turpitude to stand up and say, “This is wrong and we should not participate in it, regardless of how much money the Federal Government is throwing at us.

Not to mention these checkpoints will be conducted on interstate weigh stations.  The same brain trust who wrote the GSP press release must have thought it would be a good idea to mix motorcycles and 18 wheelers.

I don’t know about your state, but Georgia has made some deep cuts to the State Patrol budget.  I’ve got a good source inside the department who told me that troopers have been instructed to stay in one spot during the bulk of their shift and not drive any more than they absolutely have to.

As a former law enforcement officer I can tell you that sitting in one spot for a long period of time makes for a boring shift.    I can’t really blame them for filling their time with checkpoints, but I do blame them for participating in “discriminatory” checkpoints.

In a perfect world individual State Patrol officers would step up and complain about this type of enforcement and refuse to condone it.

In this world we’ll have to rely on legislation that has been introduced by Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) to block the Department of Transportation (who funds NHTSA) from giving grants that target motorcycles only.   Not only would it stop the Georgia checkpoints it would also stop the checkpoints that New York State has been doing. (corrected 03-04-2011 – The New York checkpoints are State funded, not with NHTSA grants.)

I’m trying my best not to Chicken Little this issue and cry “foul” at every perceived injustice to motorcyclists, so if there’s someone out there who can justify these checkpoints, I’d love to hear your argument for their validity.

Until next month, ride safe and always take the road less traveled.

 

Evel” Knievel To Be Inducted Into Sturgis Hall of Fame

The Sturgis Motorcycle Museum & Hall of Fame is pleased to announce the Hall of Fame inductees for 2011.  The Sturgis Motorcycle Hall of Fame is designed to recognize individuals or groups who have made a long term positive impact on the motorcycle community.

Don Emde – Don Emde comes by his passion for motorcycling naturally.  He was born to a motorcycling family in 1951, and spent much of his youth either working in the family’s dealership or tearing up the tracks of Southern California as an amateur scrambler, dirt tracker and road racer.  He turned pro in 1969, and set numerous records with his Daytona 200 win in 1972.  Emde and his father became the first (and so far only) father son pair to win the Daytona 200.  After his racing career, Don went on to become a successful publisher and author.  He currently publishes Drag Specialties Magazine, Parts Magazine and Parts Europe Magazine.

Del Hofer – Del Hofer has been a Harley-Davidson dealer for 50 years, first in Huron, South Dakota, then in Fargo, North Dakota.  His love of motorcycling is obvious through many of his activities.  Del is active in the American Motorcyclists Association and is the longest serving member of the Harley-Davidson Dealer Advisory Board. A long-time AMA amateur racer in all styles of racing, Del also served as an AMA referee and District Congressman for quite some time.  Del’s passion for motorcycling is evident to anyone who meets him.  He encourages men and women alike to take safety courses, get active in riding and enjoy it in a safe and fun way.

Robert Craig “Evel” Knievel – Probably one of the best-known motorcycle riders in history, Evel Knievel liked to live on the edge.  From riding his bicycle at an early age to pole vaulting when he was in the army to playing semi-pro hockey, Evel tried it all.  In the early 1960s, Evel joined the motorcross circuit with moderate success until a broken collar bone forced him to take a job as an insurance salesman.  The insurance business didn’t hold him for long, though, and soon he moved his family to Washington where he started his first daredevil show.  During his career, he attempted 75 ramp-to-ramp motorcycle jumps, many successfully.  In 1974, Knievel unsuccessfully attempted a jump across the Snake River on a steam-powered rocket – the Skycycle X-2.  Knievel died of pulmonary disease in 2007 at the age of 69.

Michael Prugh – While Michael Prugh is certainly well recognized as a motorcycle designer and manufacturer, it’s his work educating others that has taken him beyond the title of “builder.”  Michael has been involved in many builds for charity and as a competitor.  He took second place two years in a row in the AMD’s World Championship of Custom Bike Building and has been featured in numerous publications featuring various builds.  In 2010, Prugh led a team of students from Western Dakota Tech to build “Method” a true “one off” bike that was auctioned at the annual Legends Ride.  This year, Prugh is again teaming up with Western Dakota Tech, Black Hills Harley-Davidson and the Buffalo Chip to build a bike for the Legends Ride.

Gloria Tramontin Struck – You’d never believe this outspoken 85-year-old woman is the same girl who in 1941 at age 16 tearfully told her brother “I do not want to know how to ride!”  Well, her brother won that argument and she’s been riding from that day until today.  She’s owned 14 motorcycles in her lifetime, has traveled every state in the continental U.S. as well as Canada.  At the age of 76, she took two trips to Europe, traveling a total of over 6,500 miles in 8 countries.  Gloria has been a Motor Maid for 65 years, having joined in 1946 and is the longest member still riding.  She continually encourages women to ride and to be involved.  Gloria is an inspiration to riders and non-riders alike.

Mike & Margaret Wilson – While both Mike & Margaret Wilson have contributed individually to the sport and lifestyle of motorcycling, those who know this couple consider them to be a pair.  Mike was an expert dirt-track and TT racer both before and after his stint in World War II.  Right after his return, Mike bought a 45 cubic inch Harley-Davidson motorcycle as a birthday surprise for Margaret.  Mike and Margaret were business partners in a Harley-Davidson then Honda dealership in Cedar Rapids, Iowa for over 25 years. Both Mike and Margaret have been avid riders and have spent countless hours encouraging others to ride, too.  Known to an entire generation of women raiders, Margaret is a golden life member of the Motor Maids celebrating 60 years this year.  Mike and Margaret both serve on the Board of Directors of the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum and continue to work to preserve the heritage of motorcycling through their involvement.

The annual Sturgis Motorcycle Hall of Fame Induction Breakfast is scheduled on Wednesday, August 10 at 9:00 a.m. at the Rushmore Plaza Civic Center in Rapid City, SD.

Breakfast tickets are available for a $35.00 donation, tables of eight for $300.00.  Tickets can be purchased through the Museum at 605.347.2001 or on line at www.sturgismuseum.com/cart/

 


DOWNTOWN GADSDEN TO HOST “GADSDEN BIKE FEST” MOTORCYCLE RALLY

GADSDEN, AL—FEBRUARY 22, 2011—There are two types of motorcycle riders- those who seek out the best roads to ride and those who seek out the best rallies to ride to.  Gadsden, Alabama has something for both: a good location in the middle of some of the best riding roads in Alabama and a new rally to ride to.

On May 13-15, 2011, motorcycle riders from all over the Southeast will be welcomed to the inaugural Gadsden Bike Fest, presented by USRiderNews, in conjunction with the Etowah County Tourism Board and Downtown Gadsden, Inc.

Etowah County Tourism Board Executive Director Hugh Stump, also a motorcycle enthusiast, said Gadsden has a vibrant motorcycle community and will welcome riders with open arms into Gadsden and the surrounding area.  “We are excited to bring motorcyclists from across the region to experience the great riding and hospitality that can be found in Etowah County.”  Stump added, “They’ll be sure to find a great weekend of fun riding, along with great food and music.”

Located in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountain range, Gadsden is located on I-59, and State Highways 278, 431, 11, and 77 also provide access.  “We have motorcyclists come through Gadsden all the time and the comments I hear are how much they like the town and the roads in this area,” said representatives for the local Best Western Hotel and Suites, who first approached Scott and Sylvia Cochran, owners of USRiderNews with the idea to promote a motorcycle and music festival in Gadsden.

“They came to Helen, Georgia and met with us during one of the motorcycle events that we promote and convinced us that Gadsden would be as welcoming to riders as Helen.” Sylvia Co­­­chran, with USRiderNews said.  “We made a couple trips over here, met with potential local partners, and fell in love with the town and the area.”  Cochran added, “A bike fest is a perfect fit for downtown and we think it has the potential to grow into one of the premier motorcycle events in the Southeast.”

The three-day event will bring riders downtown to interact with local shops and local and regional vendors, bike games, a poker run and outdoor entertainment from local as well as regional music acts.  Local businesses will sponsor the “Hot Rods and Rides” Bike Show and Invitational Car Show.  Kay Moore, Executive Director for Downtown Gadsden, Inc., said “Downtown Gadsden is looking forward to a great weekend as we welcome motorcyclists to our historic downtown.  We know they will enjoy our wonderful restaurants, stores and boutiques.  We are excited to showcase our area and make them feel right at home.”

USRiderNews believes the number of motorcyclists that could visit Gadsden and the surrounding area during the rally would be very significant.

A tentative schedule of events is listed below:

Friday May 13th.

12 noon:  Vendors open and entertainment on Downtown stage
3 pm:  Bike Wash competition
9 pm:  Kick-off party with welcome from the City
9-12 pm:  Local bands and street dance
10 pm:  Miss Gadsden Bike Fest preliminary

Saturday May 14th

9 am:  Vendors open
Live Music Downtown stage all day
10 am:  Hot Rods and Rides Bike Show & Invitational Car Show begins
12- 1 pm:  Bikini Bike Wash Competition
9 am- 12 noon:  Poker Run Registration, last bike in @ 5:30
6 pm:  Bike Games
8:30 pm:  Miss Gadsden Bike Fest finale – Downtown stage
9 pm- 12 am: Live Music and Street Dance- Downtown stage

Sunday May 15th

8-10 am: Pancake Breakfast – Downtown (benefits local charities)
9 am-2 pm:  Vendors Open
11 am:  Christian Motorcycle Assoc. Worship Service, Downtown
2 pm:  Vendors close

Additional contacts:

Scott Cochran, Event Producer, USRiderNews, 478-494-3760
Kay Moore, Executive Director, Downtown Gadsden, Inc., 256-547-8696

Wacky Brain Buckets

Brain Bucket:  (slang) A type of motorcycle helmet that enables motorcycle riders to be in compliance with the law where helmets are required, but offers inadequate protection, about that of a bicycle helmet – Urban Dictionary

University of Southern California (USC) Professor C.F. “Red” Lombard is credited with being the first to designed a motorcycle helmet to absorb the shock of an impact.  IN 1953 Professor Lombard applied for a patent for his new invention which had two layers of padding.  One layer inside which fit next to the wearers head and provided comfort, and the outer layer which absorbed and diffused the energy from an impact over the entire surface of the helmet.   In 1967 South Carolina enacted legislation requiring all motorcyclists to wear helmets and thirteen years later 200 members of  ABATE of South Carolina was successful in getting this law amended to apply to only those under 21.

Here’s a bit of trivia.  Half a decade before South Carolina implemented its motorcycle

helmet law, Australia became the world’s first government to implement a mandatory motorcycle helmet law on January 1, 1961.

In 1974, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) introduced their Federal MotorVehicleSafety Standard No. 218 (FMVSS 218) for Motorcycle Helmets.  Since that date, helmets which meet the standard have been required  to carry a DOT-approved sticker.

We doubt these helmets carry DOT-approved stickers but we like the creativity shown in their creation.

Feds Say They Will Pressure States to Require Motorcycle Helmet Use

WASHINGTON (AP) — Federal safety officials called on states Thursday to require all motorcycle riders to wear helmets, citing a surge in fatalities since the late 1990s.

Motorcycle deaths have increased over the last decade even as other traffic fatalities have declined, the National Transportation Safety Board said.

From the website jalopnik.com

There were 4,400 motorcycle deaths in the U.S. last year, more than in all aviation, rail, marine and pipeline accidents combined. That’s nearly twice the fatalities a decade ago. Head injuries are the leading cause of death in motorcycle crashes.

Board members said at a news conference they were elevating the helmet recommendation to their annual list of “most wanted” safety improvements to spotlight the issue and pressure governors and state legislatures to act.

“People have to get outraged about this safety issue that is causing so many deaths needlessly,” NTSB Vice Chairman Christopher Hart said.

Twenty states make all motorcycle riders wear helmets, the board said. Most states have limited helmet requirements, and three states — Iowa, Illinois and New Hampshire — have no requirement.

Nearly all states had universal helmet laws when they were necessary for full federal highway funding. But in the mid-1990s Congress repealed the requirement, leaving the issue up to states to decide. As states began repealing or weakening helmet laws, fatalities rose.

The safety board can’t force states to enact tougher helmet laws or offer money as an incentive. Its primary power is its bully pulpit.

Deborah Hersman, the safety board’s chair, promised to keep pressure on states and, if that doesn’t work, to seek help from Congress or the administration.

The call or tougher helmet laws comes after a new report showing the United States lagging behind nearly every other wealthy country in reducing traffic fatalities, despite bringing them down 9.7 percent last year to 33,808, the lowest number since 1950. In 2008, an estimated 37,423 people died on the highways, representing a yearly decline of 9.3 percent.

The dramatic declines were likely due to a sour economy as people drove less, rather than changing their behavior, the report by the Transportation Research Board said. Fatalities are likely to increase as the economy improves, researchers said.

Other countries are doing better. The U.S. had the lowest fatality rate in the world in the 1970s, but Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the Netherlands, Germany, Sweden, Finland, Norway, France and the United Kingdom have surpassed the United States.

While fatalities dropped 19 percent in the U.S. from 1995 to 2009, they dropped 52 percent in France and 38 percent in the United Kingdom. Rates fell 50 percent in 15 high-income countries with available traffic data.

“The United States can no longer claim to rank highly in road safety by world standards,” the report said.

Fatalities have fallen in other nations partly through programs that sometimes generate opposition in the U.S such as speed cameras and speed measuring devices, sobriety checkpoints and mandatory motorcycle helmets. Thousands of lives could be saved if such programs were widely adopted in the U.S., the report said.

More frequent checkpoints nationwide to detect drunk drivers could save 1,500 to 3,000 lives annually, researchers estimated. Systematic speed control programs could save 1,000 to 2,000 lives, and mandatory helmet rules for motorcyclists could mean 450 less deaths a year. Another 1,200 deaths would be avoided if seat belt use rose to 90 percent from 85 percent.

“Where is the public outcry against these preventable deaths?” Hersman asked.

“Americans should strive for zero fatalities on the road. We should be leading, rather than following the international community when it comes to roadway design and safety measures,” he said. “But it is a sad fact that the U.S. is in their rear view mirror and falling further behind the rest of the world when it comes to highway safety.”

Clinton Oster, an environment and public policy professor at the Indiana University-Bloomington and chairman of the committee that wrote the report, said there was no “silver bullet” program that stood out.

“I think we need to be much more systematic in developing clear goals, measuring results and making that information public,” Oster said. Other countries “work very hard to demonstrate these techniques actually do save lives.”


Two Wheels Safer Than Four

Baltimore:  In research that may surprise off-road riding enthusiasts and safety experts, a Johns Hopkins team has found that crashes involving ATVs — four-wheeled all-terrain vehicles — are significantly more dangerous than crashes involving two-wheeled off-road motorcycles, such as those used in extreme sports like Motocross.

The Results

The research, to be presented at the American College of Surgeons’ 2010 Clinical Congress in Washington, D.C., this week, found that victims of ATV crashes were 50 percent more likely to die of their injuries than similarly injured victims of off-road motorcycle crashes. ATV victims were also 55 percent more likely than injured motorcyclists to be admitted to a hospital’s intensive-care unit and 42 percent more likely to be placed on a ventilator.

“There’s a belief that four wheels must be safer than two,” says Cassandra Villegas, M.P.H., a research fellow at the Johns Hopkins Center for Surgery Trials and Outcomes. “But we found the opposite. People involved in ATV crashes are more likely to die or suffer serious trauma.”

The growing popularity of off-road vehicles in the United States has led to a steep rise in the number of injuries resulting from their use. In 2000, Villegas notes, there were 92,200 injuries involving ATVs or off-road motorcycles; in 2007, the last year for which data is available, there were 150,900 injuries. But little rigorous research has been done to determine which vehicles may be riskier than others.

ATVs and off-road motorcycles are designed for recreational use, not use on city streets, and typically are ridden on trails, sand dunes and other rough terrain.

Study Details

In the first study to compare the severity of injuries sustained by ATV versus off-road motorcycle riders, Villegas and senior author Adil H. Haider, M.D., M.P.H., an assistant professor of surgery at Johns Hopkins, reviewed data on nearly 60,000 patients who suffered an injury after a crash involving one of the vehicles between 2002 and 2006.

The researchers say they don’t know why ATV crashes lead to greater injury and mortality, noting they cannot trace the differences solely to helmet use even though 60 percent of motorcyclists were wearing helmets as compared to 30 percent of those in ATV crashes. Even when both types of riders had been wearing helmets, ATV riders still experienced worse injuries and outcomes than motorcyclists, Villegas says. Only a few states have laws requiring the use of a helmet when riding an ATV, says Villegas, and while motorcycle helmet laws are also determined by states, many more have helmet-use laws for motorcycles.

Possible Factors

The researchers say it’s possible that ATV riders wear less protective clothing than off-road motorcyclists when they head out, sometimes little more than shorts and a T-shirt. Another contributing factor could be the significant weight of ATVs, which can cause severe crush injuries when they land atop victims and lead to a greater likelihood of internal organ or extremity damage, Villegas says.

Villegas says that these findings may allow parents, legislators, educators and those in the ATV industry to make better decisions about the use of the off-road vehicles. She also says that studies like these could help ATV manufacturers design and implement increased safety technology in ATVs, similar to how automobile manufacturers have used research to make safer cars and trucks.

Hopkins researchers Stephen M. Bowman, Ph.D.; Eric B. Schneider, Ph.D.; Elliott R. Haut, M.D.; Kent A. Stevens, M.D., M.P.H.; and David T. Efron, M.D., contributed to this study.