Michigan Poised to Ratify Helmet Freedom Of Choice Bill

Lansing: Michigan Legislators in the State House voted overwhelmingly to allow motorcyclist 21 and over to decide for themselves if they want to wear a helmet or not.  The only requirements are that they have 2 years experience or have completed an approved motorcycle safety course and carry $20,000 in medical insurance.

State Senators receive the bill to work through the differences from a version they previously approved this past June.  After that, the legislation lands on Michigan’s Governor  Rick Snyder’s desk.  Snyder says he’ll sign the bill, but only if certain insurance reforms are in place.

“The governor has been clear and consistent that for him to look at any helmet law repeal it has to take place in context of broader auto insurance reform,” Snyder spokeswoman Sara Wurfel said.

For Michigan’s Insurance lobby, the issue is simply about money.  Typically the Insurance industry is a staunch opponent of freedom of choice, and frames its arguments against legislation like this by scaring the public with the specter of the financial bogey man for the state’s taxpayers.  ”The consequences of a person’s decision not to wear a helmet is borne by all of society through higher insurance premiums, lost productivity and increased health care costs,” said Lori Conarton, spokeswoman for the Insurance Institute of Michigan.”

Former Gov. Jennifer Granholm nixed the legislation twice with a stroke of her pen, siding with the powerful Insurance and Health Care lobby.  Governor Snyder, however, hasn’t shot down the idea of signing the bill if it reached his desk.

Supporters of the bill include ABATE, State Tourism officials and lawmakers who helped push the legislation through say that motorcyclist avoid Michigan because of the helmet law.  Peter Pettalia, R-Presque Isle, (a former emergency medical tech) spoke in favor of the bill and agreed that head injuries are traumatic, but the bill give people the choice and many will wear a helmet, but the requirement is a turn off to many motorcycle tourists.  Pettalia told the Detroit News, “”We’re surrounded by helmetless states. So if somebody wants to travel to the Great Lakes, they will oftentimes travel into the Wisconsin area where the Dells are and avoid coming into Michigan.”

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Arkansas Launches Civil War Trail by Motorcycle

With state budgets shrinking, tourism departments across the nation are seeking novel ways to lure travelers this summer.

Arkansas is leading the charge by combining history and motorcycling with a tie in to the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.  They’re hoping a new Heritage Trail created to make battle sites easily accessible by motorcycle will give them a much needed bump in visitors to the state.

Eight Civil War campaigns in the southern state are designated on the trail produced by the Arkansas Department of Parks and Tourism.

A brochure with a map lays out how those on motorcycle can visit the battle sites and pay tribute to the men who lost their lives in the Civil War by traveling along similar routes as those taken by the troops.

The first 1,000 bikers to travel on all eight routes will get a commemorative “I Rode the Civil War Trail Arkansas” patch. Their road trip will also be chronicled on the state’s tourism website, state tourism officials said.

The state’s Civil War sites include Prairie Grove, one of the most intact Civil War battlefields in the nation, where Union and Confederate troops saw intense fighting on Dec. 7, 1862.

Other trails featured on the map for motorcyclists lead to Pea Ridge and follow the Little Rock Campaign, the Attack on Pine Bluff, the Confederate Approach to Helena, the Camden Expedition, Price’s Raid and Ozark to the Battle of Fayetteville.

Motorcycle tourism is a popular way to explore rural locations around the United States and states are urging businesses to become biker-friendly by opening up spots designated for motorcycles and creating patches and stickers for enthusiasts’ gear.

The Arkansas effort was announced at the 37th annual Arkansas Governor’s Conference on Tourism.

Other Civil War sites to see on a motorcycle.   Civil War Travel

Visit the most infamous Civil War POW Camp, Fort Sumter in Motorcycle Journeys Through the American South.