The Board of Directors of A.B.A.T.E. of Washington has met, and I now have two measures to try and get sponsored in the legislature, and then passed into law. Sounds easy, but its not. For too many reasons to go into here. I am just going to tell you what we will be fighting for here in Washington State this coming biennium (we have a two year legislative period that bills can be passed or they "die" and the process has to start all over again) that starts in January.
The first bill would give everyone over the age of 18 the choice whether to wear a motorcycle helmet or not. It is virtually the same bill that we got a hearing on last year. The focus will be to push for this bill, and get it passed. In that way, everyone over 18 will have the right to choose whether to wear a helmet or not. Some prefer to wear their helmet, others find the risks that accompany wearing a helmet offset its protective effectiveness. Which NHTSA, by the way, only rates at 37% anyway.
It is the second bill A.B.A.T.E. of Washington is trying to get into the legislautre that is actually a little surprising to me. When word first came out in September about this bill, I didn't really hear any support for it. Most people simply said it wasn't necessary, that it wouldn't stand a chance so why bother, etc. At the Board of Directors meeting; except for a brief discussion over trying to focus only on a helmet bill or working to get two bills passed, I was pleasantly surprised to see the Board vote to support a lane sharing, or "lane filtering" bill.
I thought it might be a nice thing to have as an insurance policy to have another bill before the legislature. On the Friday of the BOD weekend in Ellensburg, I was surprised to be informed that the G20 (the top economic nations on the planet) had announced their support of motorcycle lane filtering laws. Then on Saturday morning, I was told about a study in California that showed lane filtering to be 6 times safer for motorcyclists than remaining static in stalled or slow moving traffic. By Monday, I had begun to receive emails and messages containing links to videos about two studies on the subject. As well as other videos demonstrating the effectiveness of lane filtering in easing traffic congestion, while also providing an effective way to lower the risk of motorcyclist being involved in serious and fatal accidents in high traffic situations.
When I arrived in Ellensburg on Friday night, I knew that California was the only state in the US that allowed lane filtering. By the middle of this past week, I have learned that several other states are now looking to pass lane filtering laws in their own states. This means that what may have started out as something of an unwanted step-child of an issue, may now have a stronger chance, and more documentation to work with over the next two years to bring it into law. This has all given me some added ammunition with which to enter the fight that looms ahead on this bill. The timing, and sudden rise in the amount of information and videos coming to light on lane filtering, is a good omen in my opinion. But then, we all know what they say about opinions, don't we?
As I said before, the helmet issue is going to be my primary focus. Even that was given a surprise boost this past week. I received a message from a friend in Colorado on Facebook asking if I wanted several years of documents surrounding the helmet fight. She came out of the blue with the offer, and I told her yes, to send them up. Another good omen. I can always use more data. Even if it is "old data" it may help to fill in the gaps in information we already have accumulated, or it may even contain documents that simply add weight to our arguments here in Washington.
Now is the time to bring all this together, and create some momentum. On the 22nd of November I have called together a meeting of the A.B.A.T.E. of Washington Legislative Committee, and a few other interested and involved parties, to try and plan out our strategy for this legislative session. We will know the election results by then, and maybe even how the Transportation Committees in the House and Senate will be shaping up. Working out the legislative packet for "Black Thursday", and how it will be presented. Also, we will discuss any bills that we are aware of plans to be introduced that A.B.A.T.E. of Washington, as an organization supports or opposses, and what to do about them. I have a feeling it is going to be an interesting meeting.
The motorcycling community in Washington State is vibrant and strong. I am looking forward to working to help keep it that way, and to make it as strong as possible.
Catch you on the road sometime...