Lane Splitting Law Signed
As reported last month a bill that would legalize lane splitting in California had cleared the legislature and was sent to Gov. Jerry Brown for signature. He signed A.B. 51 into law last month. Lane splitting by motorcyclists is now legally recognized in California. The law defines lane splitting and authorizes the California Highway Patrol, in conjunction with motorcycle safety groups, to draft and distribute guidelines for the practice. California is the first state in the nation to formally recognize lane splitting as a practice. Several other states–including Texas, Oregon, Nevada and Washington–have considered bills during the past few years to make lane splitting legal.
“This is great news for motorcyclists in California and throughout the country,” said Rob Dingman, president and CEO of the American Motorcyclist Association. “The California Assembly and the governor have taken a huge step in formally recognizing a practice that has been in use for decades.
“Lane splitting keeps riders safer by eliminating their exposure to rear-end collisions, and it helps ease congestion by effectively removing motorcycles from the traffic lanes.”
Studies by the University of California at Berkeley show that splitting lanes is a relatively safe maneuver when both the motorcyclist and nearby drivers know the law and adhere to safe and prudent driving practices. (Editorial comment from MMM – Legalize it.)
Royal Enfield Sets Up in Milwaukee
India-based Royal Enfield opened its North American headquarters in Milwaukee this past September. Former Harley-Davidson executive Rod Copes has been leading the Royal Enfield expansion into the U.S. market. He recently told the Milwaukee Business Journal that the company hopes to position its motorcycles as urban transportation with the target market for the bikes being urban millennials. Royal Enfield North America employs about 20 people, with 10 of them at the Milwaukee office and dealership. Look a review of the new Royal Enfield Himalaya in a coming issue.
Harley-Davidson has unveiled its all-new Milwaukee-Eight™ engine, the ninth Big Twin in its history. The new engine will be offered in two flavors a 107 cubic inch (1753cc) and 114 (1868cc) sizes. The new Milwaukee-Eight™ engine is all-new from the ground-up. H-D goal was to design a motor that combines the classic H-D look with improvements in performance, comfort, and control.
Resistant too much change the Milwaukee-Eight™ keeps standard 45-degree V-Twin cylinder angle, but does gain four-valve cylinder heads and an engine counter-balancer to cancel most of the engine vibration. The engines are claimed to produce 10 percent more torque than previous year models. The new motor will initially be available on the H-D touring, trike, and CVO models.
“These are the most powerful, most responsive and most comfortable Touring motorcycles ever offered by Harley-Davidson,” said Scott Miller, Harley-Davidson Vice President of Styling and Product Development Strategy. “You truly have to ride one to feel the difference – so we’re inviting all riders to visit a Harley-Davidson dealer and take a test ride.” (Editorial comment from MMM – We will. Smoky burnout photo a possibility)
A report from the South Dakota Department of Revenue states that vendor sales at the event dropped significantly from last year’s milestone 75th anniversary. Total sales were estimated at $15 million down a whopping 55% from $33 million the year prior. That amount is down even compared to the estimated $19 million in sales in 2014. The financial data corresponded to the traffic data, which showed a 40% decrease of traffic in and around the rally this year. No specific reasons were cited for the decrease, but industry trends show younger are less interested in the rally and the 75th year record attendance numbers drew in many of the once-every-so-often attendees. (Editorial comment from MMM – Maybe it’s time to visit again. Did I hear there are flat track races?)
Noise Lawsuit Tossed Out
As reported by the AMA, a federal lawsuit over loud motorcycles at rallies in Fayetteville, AR and Fort Smith, AR was tossed out of court because the plaintiff lacked legal standing. Ricky Holtsclaw, a former Texas police officer and self-proclaimed motorcycle-sound crusader, sued the cities and city officials for failing to enforce existing sound ordinances during the motorcycle rallies.
He was seeking $500,000 from each defendant and an injunction prohibiting all motorcycle rallies until the state adopts a policy to protect residents from “the audible assault perpetuated by illegally equipped, illegally loud motorcycles.”
In his ruling, U.S. District Judge P.K. Holmes said that Holtsclaw failed to state a plausible claim. The judge also wrote that Holtsclaw has no claim because he was not prosecuted and only seeks to challenge the decision not to prosecute others, so he lacks legal standing in the case. Fayetteville stages the Bikes, Blues & BBQ event, and Fort Smith hosts the Steel Horse Rally.
A roving MMM correspondent reports from Prescott, Wisconsin that during the recent Flood Run along the Wisconsin side of the Mississippi River, these two customized motorcycles were allegedly tipped over by a large vehicle, possibly an RV per nearby witnesses, apparently because of the way they were parked by overhanging the front wheels past the fog line into the traffic lane. Local law enforcement was brought in to investigate, and it is unknown at this time if there were any injuries. Unnamed sources report that law enforcement did not seem surprised that this happened. (Editorial comment from MMM – Hmm, does this sort of thing happen more frequently than we would imagine?)