In what appears to be a case of government bureaucrats "stacking the deck" on the Motorcycle Advisory Council (MAC), the Federal Highway Administration has filled nine of the ten positions on the council with experts in road design, construction, engineering, and safety. Leaving motorcyclists with effectively no voice on a council supposedly dedicated to being a voice for motorcyclists to advise the FHWA on our issues. Is this simply another example of the bureaucratic attempt to guide the governments agencies according to what the current bureaucrats own agendas and not what the council was intended by the legislative branch to do?
This does not seem to represent a misunderstanding of what the MAC was intended to be about, but a deliberate turn away from what Congress had intended in the highway bill that created the MAC. When last year's highway bill became law, re-establishing the MAC, it was with the intention that it was to coordinate with and counsel the Administrator of the FHWA on infrastructure issues that affect motorcyclists. Yet, with the FHWA only having one seat on the council for motorcyclists, our issues will no doubt have little voice to affect real change on motorcycle issues. As is no doubt the intent behind such a decision.
Even after receiving bi-partisan letters (and even phone calls) from key members of the Senate and House of Representatives, the FHWA's response was "limited". The U.S. House of Representatives even issued it's own letter to new Secretary of Transportation Chao; requesting she delay any activity on the council until the MAC has a more balanced and fair composition. In part the letter stated; "It is critical to allow motorcyclists to have a strong voice on this Council. These are the individuals who have experience and can provide a motorcyclist's insights on the challenges and benefits of our roadways. Depending on where they live, riders have unique experiences and are differently impacted by roadway and barrier design, and construction, among others." (emphasis added by this author)
This is not an isolated issue. Even here in Washington State's own government there is bureaucratic takeover of Boards and Councils. One of which is the Washington State Motorcycle Safety Education Advisory Board. This Board is under the auspices of the Dept. of Licensing, and former members have begun to come forward and openly discuss the fact the board is becoming more focused on insuring that "all the i's are dotted and the t's crossed" in the DOL's existing and proposed procedures and policies than actually working to counsel the DOL on motorcycle education and safety issues. This is in a council with three of five seats being designated for "active motorcycle riders or people actively involved in a non-profit motorcycle organization that actively supports motorcycle safety." (again, the emphasis is mine) If the Washington State Motorcycle Safety Education Advisory Board, with it's three board members can be co-opted into a bureaucratic rubber stamp for it's umbrella agency; what hope does a single motorcyclist's seat on the FHWA's Motorcycle Advisory Council have of providing a strong voice for motorcyclists concerns in counseling the FHWA?
It is a common theme among many grassroots political activists and organizations that we need term limits on politicians in this country. Perhaps it is at least as important to focus on term limits for the career bureaucrats in government. Politicians and figure head agency administrators come and go. But the career bureaucrats continue for a lifetime working towards their goals and ideals., writing agency guidelines and regulations. Then using those same regulations to populate any Board or Council as it is created as they see fit. Irregardless of the intent or desire of those elected officials who created the Board or Council by legislative action. This situation with the Motorcycle Advisory Council of the Federal Highway Administration is just one more example of that bureaucratic mentality in action.
Catch you on the road sometime...
(unless the bureaucrats find a way to eliminate private vehicles from the roadways...and they are working on that)