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13NR02 - MRF News Release - Definition of a Motorcycle

16 January 2013

Contact:Jeff Hennie, Vice President of Government Ralations and Public Affairs

Definition of a Motorcycle

What is a motorcycle anyway?

We all know what a motorcycle is, ; question is do we know what is not a motorcycle? I am not trying to intentionally confuse you, this is a serious question. Look around and you will see many two, three and sometime even four wheeled vehicles all carrying a motorcycle license plate that vaguely resemble a motorcycle

The motorcycle vehicle category has become a catch all for misfit vehicles that are not traditional cars. This has led the Federal government to refine what a motorcycle is when it comes to accident reporting. The definition in the past has been as loose as "a vehicle with two or three wheels in contact with the ground that is designed to carry one or two individuals".

The problem with that definition is that it makes no mention of enclosures, riding position over seated position, seat belts, and other add ons that may fit the definition, but is clearly not a motorcycle. In and around Washington DC I have personally noticed vehicles that bear a motorcycle license plate that have a full enclosure, windshield wipers, bench seating, seat belts, doors and windows.

I realize that we are not talking about a great number of vehicles here but it's important to delineate these vehicles as something other than a motorcycle. Why? Because the motorcycle fatality column on safety reports do not need any additional numbers. We need to make sure that these vehicles remain separate from the motorcycle category.

The Federal definition did improve upon the old definition but falls short in some ways. They created new categories that include break out groups for mopeds, Segways, scooters, motorcycles and motorcycles with enclosures. This gives the States a little more structure when defining two and three wheeled vehicles. But in my opinion anytime a three wheeled vehicle has doors, windows, and a steering wheel, it's definitely not a motorcycle anymore.

Picture those European and Asian delivery trucks that have one wheel up front and two in the rear. Under the Feds standards those could be considered a motorcycle-with enclosure. We still have some work to do.

Sign the Petition!
A White House petition to ban motorcycle only road side checkpoints has been created. The petition asks the White House to end the funding of the roadside checkpoints. You may be aware that President Obama began his "We The People" initiative back in September of 2011. The idea is that anyone can submit a petition to the White House and if that petition gets more than 25,000 signatures on the website within 30 days the White House will take an official look at the idea and give it an "official response".

Nothing more is promised than a response. Even if the petition gets 1,000,000 signers, it is still a non binding system. The "We The People" has been used for some serious items such as this, but has also been used to mock some ideas. One such petition asked the White House to build a "Death Star", Darth Vader's weapon of mass destruction in the Star Wars movies. The response from the White House on that one? Not gonna happen.

But this is a serious issue. So take a minute to voice your opinion on the checkpoints by signing this position. The deadline is February 7, 2013.

Sign The Petition


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