newslogo*Finney Falls on His Fanny

*Motorcycle Apparel Will Not Be Regulated

*AMA Testifies on Motorcycle Safety

*Crashing in the Name of Safety



by Gus Breiland

Finney Falls on His Fanny
Saint Paul Police Chief and rider William Finney was involved in a motorcycle / automobile accident in July when a “cager” failed to yield for oncoming traffic. The good news is that the Chief is ok with some minor injuries. He has also praised the use of his helmet for limiting his injuries.

According to the Saint Paul Pioneer Press, the chief “used a braking technique, causing him to go side to side on the cycle without spilling” otherwise known as a tank slapper. I am hoping this was editorialized by the SPPP rather than the chief saying it was a technique. Clipping the car, the chief went down and broke 2 ribs and a shoulder blade with some road rash on his arms.

Finney was out riding with a group of police officers and friends that like to call themselves the “St. Paul Posse”. Isn’t that cute.

Motorcycle Apparel Will Not Be Regulated
According to the American Motorcyclist Associations web site, federal traffic safety officials have pledged that they will not regulate motorcycle apparel under provisions of a new law.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) on July 10 issued a final rule requiring motor vehicle manufacturers and their suppliers to report customer satisfaction data and certain other information to federal officials. The reporting requirement is to help the NHTSA identify defects related to motor vehicle safety. The rule implements requirements of the Transportation Recall Enhancement, Accountability and Documentation (TREAD) Act that was approved in 2000 following problems related to Firestone tires on Ford Explorers.

The notice of the proposed rule stated that the regulation would cover, among other things, “accessory equipment and off-vehicle equipment that is not part of a motor vehicle, such as retroreflective motorcycle rider apparel and child restraints.”

The AMA told the NHTSA that including motorcycle rider apparel in the reporting requirements appeared to go beyond what Congress intended in approving the TREAD Act and that such a requirement appeared impractical and unworkable.

The AMA also feared that the reporting requirement would create a database that could be the first step toward mandatory rider apparel certification and use.

In releasing the final rule, the federal agency specifically ruled out such a possibility stating: “We have not, and we do not, intend to prescribe standards or requirements for motorcycle apparel other than protective headgear…The proposed rule would not, and the final rule does not, control motorcycle clothing.”

Edward Moreland, AMA vice president for government relations, said that the NHTSA statement indicates the agency intends to follow the congressional intent of the law and focus on tire issues rather than get involved in motorcycle apparel.

Besides the AMA, federal lawmakers were among those who told the NHTSA to stay out of the business of regulating motorcycle apparel.

“I’m pleased to see that these rules seem to reflect common sense,” said Idaho U.S. Rep. C.L. “Butch” Otter, who expressed concerns early on about the NHTSA proposal. “All too often bureaucrats use the opportunity of a new enforcement program to expand their regulatory reach beyond their grasp.

“Requiring manufacturers and parts suppliers to report defects in such critically important safety equipment as tires and brakes is one thing,” Otter added. “It’s an entirely different matter if we’re talking about the government trying to tell motorcyclists how to dress. Nobody is more concerned or knowledgeable about the safety needs of motorcyclists than the people who ride. It’s good to see that &emdash; at least in this case &emdash; the feds recognized it was none of their business.”

Illinois U.S. Rep. John Shimkus also praised the decision. “The TREAD Act was passed to increase safety on our roadways,” he said. “It was not passed to restrict what a motorcyclist could wear.”

So in short, those who like to wear the replica German Pickelhaube (half helmet with spike on top) with your significant other on the back wearing only a string up her rear and a couple of patches over her front, will not have to be an official motorcycle apparel statistic when the police find you stuck to the tree you have spiked and your 2-up partner’s skin graph will be listed as cosmetic surgery. Just make sure she gets some implants while they are repairing her torso.

To see the final rule online, go to

AMA Testifies on Motorcycle Safety
Edward Moreland, AMA vice president for government relations, called on Congress to fund a new in-depth study into the causes of motorcycle crashes in testimony before the U.S. House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit Thursday.

“The last such study was completed and released over 21 years ago,” Moreland testified. “The changing dynamics of motorcycling, infrastructure and safety measures demand modern, comprehensive and impartial research.”

The decades-old research Moreland referred to is “Motorcycle Accident Cause Factors and Identification of Countermeasures,” commonly called the Hurt Study after lead researcher Harry Hurt. The research is still the most comprehensive study to date on the causes of motorcycle crashes.

Moreland was testifying on congressional plans to renew the Transportation Equity Act of 1998, which relates to a variety of transportation issues. The Motorcycle Riders Foundation also testified.

In addition to calling for comprehensive research into the causes of motorcycle crashes, Moreland asked lawmakers to make motorcycle safety a priority, to include motorcycles in research involving vehicle collision-avoidance systems, to continue the ban on lobbying at the state and local level by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), and to retain provisions in the law that give motorcycles full access to any highway or portion of a highway that used federal funds for planning, design, construction or maintenance.

Moreland also asked lawmakers to stay away from imposing penalties on states that don’t adopt mandatory helmet-use laws, to require motorcycle parking in parking facilities built with federal funds, and to establish lower tolls for motorcycles on highways, bridges and tunnels that collect tolls.

Moreland also noted that off-highway riders continue to struggle to get their fair share of federal Recreational Trails Program money that goes to build and maintain motorized and non-motorized trails. “The Recreational Trails Program allows motorized and non-motorized users to benefit from qualifying trail projects that are funded by the host state’s portion of gas tax revenues attributable to non-highway use,” Moreland testified.

“It is unfair that those directly supporting the program receive the least benefit,” he said.

Finally, Moreland suggested that the law be strengthened to ensure that the NHTSA focuses on crash prevention rather than injury prevention.

“Each of these issues is an important piece in a comprehensive approach to safer riding, less congestion, more parity (with cars) and a better quality of life for everyone on America’s roads and highways,” Moreland testified.

Crashing in the Name of Safety
If you wonder how good protective gear really works or just like watching riders crashing on purpose you need to be at the Dakota County Technical College road course at 9 am Aug. 10th. There you will witness members of the Minnesota Sportbike Group simulate crash scenarios and deliberately crash a motorcycle to demonstrate the effectiveness of protective gear and emergency maneuvers. You read correctly. These intrepid fellows will actually crash their bikes on purpose. The public is invited to come and gain some insights on rider safety or to simply watch the riders fall down, it’s your choice. The Technical College is located on Co. Rd. 42 in Rosemount.


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