Motorcycle Riders Foundation President, Mark Buckner and Vice-President of Government Relations, Wayne Curtin attended the International Motorcyclists Public Policy Conference in Luxembourg last weekend. This event was sponsored by the Federation Internationale Motorcycliste (FIM) to bring motorcyclists' organizations from around the world together to discuss the future of motorcycling and how they might work together to protect that future. General areas of discussion included the trend toward global vehicle standards from both the marketing perspective and effects on riders. Wayne Curtin (MRF) and Rob Dingman of the American Motorcyclists Association (AMA) presented the North American experience of political involvement by motorcyclists. The issues involved in dealing with the European Parliament along with the national governments on behalf of motorcyclists were presented by Simon Milward of the Federation of European Motorcyclists (FEM) and Mikael Branting of the European Motorcyclists Association. Preliminary news reports that the meeting was a great success and our future will be better for it.
The US House of Representatives leadership has expanded the Transportation and Infrastructure Committee from 66 members to 73, adding four Republicans and three Democrats. The seven new members are Frank LoBiondo (R-NJ), Jon Fox (R-PA), J.C. Watts (R-OK), Tom Davis (R-VA), Earl Blumenauer, (D-OR), Tim Holden (D-PA), and Nick Lampson (D-TX). The T & I Committee has been the most requested committee by members and it is now the largest committee in the history of Congress. A primary activity of the committee this year will be the Re-authorization of the transportation funding program known as the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act (ISTEA) which expires this year. The duration of the funding program is typically about five years so this legislation will determine national transportation spending priorities well into the next century.
A LABOUR government would commission research that might lead to relaxation of the 24- year-old requirement for motorcyclists to wear crash helmets. A policy document, Bike to Basics, tries to straddle both sides of the safety argument. At one point it states that abolishing compulsion would not be beneficial. But it then notes the concern of many riders and adds: "We intend to instruct the Department of Transport's transport research (laboratory) to place new emphasis on examining the benefits and design of all secondary safety measures, with particular emphasis on crash helmets."
Safety groups reacted with incredulity. A spokesman for the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents said: "There were 445 deaths last year. If helmets were not compulsory, that would have been much higher." Edmund King, of the RAC, said: 'It is very unwise even to question the usefulness of helmets.'" The introduction of compulsory helmets was opposed by biker enthusiasts and libertarians. In recent years some motorcyclists have maintained that helmets restrict vision, damage hearing and can exacerbate neck injuries.
Submitted by Craig Carey-Clinch (firstname.lastname@example.org)
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