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MEETING NOTES: December 18, 2021 The Original Oyster House, Spanish Fort, AL
In attendance:
Kris Cook
Rodney Green
Matthew Schroeder
Blythe Joslin
Chris Litteral
Matt Roden
Michael Stieber
Keith Stieber
Shane Coker
Kelly “Leggs” Taylor
Blythe Joslin
Chico Bethea
Freddy Wheeler
Neil Bruyn
Fran Barber-Bruyn
There was no Zoom link for this meeting.
Kris passed out notes from the last meeting and a treasurer’s report. No exceptions were noted. The above documents are now on record.
Matt discussed the good things for motorcyclists built into the highway bill which became law on 11/15/21:
1. State and local governments are prohibited from creating motorcycle-only checkpoints.
2. States can use federal money to collect data, including “mode of transportation”, when recording traffic stops. This information will help us determine if motorcyclists are being stopped disproportionately by law enforcement.
3. The Motorcyclist Advisory Council was re-established, and dedicated seats were added for motorcyclists’ rights groups and manufacturers.
4. Specific language was added that requires the DOT to consider motorcyclists as unique roadway users when they conduct safety studies on autonomous vehicles. A newly formed working group on autonomous vehicles must include a motorcyclist safety group as part of its membership.
5. There is a roughly 34% increase in the “405” safety funds made available to states for motorcyclist safety. It provides for increases through 2025.
Shane initiated a discussion about how three wheeled automobiles should not be classified as motorcycles. NHTSA has defined a motorcycle as a motor vehicle with motive power having a seat or saddle for the use of the rider and designed to travel on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground. With the recent proliferation of three-wheeled automobiles such as the Polaris Slingshot and the Campagna T-Rex, this definition is no longer adequate. A motor vehicle with a foot-controlled accelerator and a steering wheel should not fall under the definition of a motorcycle merely because it has three wheels. The manufacturers of these vehicles want them classified as motorcycles so that they can bypass federal automotive safety standards. In Alabama, drivers of these vehicles do not have to have an M endorsement on their driver’s license and are not required to wear a helmet. We generally feel like either a vehicle is a motorcycle, or it is not. We need to find out how insurance carriers classify this vehicle. See below for further discussion regarding autocycles.
Another ongoing problem is that motorcycles are taxed as recreational vehicles, thus at a higher rate than cars and trucks, which are seen as transportation. We need to tackle this at some point.
We need to bring up our “safe on red” bill again also.
There is always a need to closely watch what goes on in the legislature. Bills get slipped in, the way Polaris slipped in the motorcycle definition for the Slingshot when they came to Huntsville. They did this in a special budget session, with zero publicity. We were not aware it had come up at all. Legislators need to know that they need to consult us when they pass any legislation that concerns us.
This is the end of the quadrennium, so we don’t expect much to come up in 2022.
We need to analyze: HB37, pre-filed by Representatives Meadows, McMillan and Ledbetter. This bill concerns equipment requirements for an autocycle. It would require the vehicle to be equipped with a roll cage, seating that does not require the operator to straddle or sit astride the seat, a seat belt for each occupant, brakes that meet federal requirements, and a steering wheel “or steering mechanism.” It states that “Existing law requires the operator of a motorcycle to wear protective headgear.” This bill would exempt the operator of an autocycle from protective headgear equipment requirements. This amends the Code of Alabama 1975, Section 32-6A-1. It goes on to make a subtle change in the motorcycle safety standards to which the autocycle has to be manufactured. The main thrust of the bill is to clarify the fact that there is no requirement for the operator of an autocycle to wear a helmet. This is a code red for Dixie ABATE. We need to read this bill closely and come to an official opinion, then present our stance when we’re in Montgomery on January 20.
We talked about finding good candidates for office and volunteering to help with their campaigns. It gets you on their mail list. Our members in Mobile are on a first name basis with their legislators. We should all be.
This year, the Alabama state legislature convenes on January 11, 2022, and adjourns on April 25, 2022. Our 2022 Legislative Day is January 20, starting at 8 AM. We will provide breakfast to all staff in the 6th floor lobby. We will have reserved parking, so you need to let Matt know if you are going.
A long-time opponent of any Dixie ABATE initiative, Connie Rowe, is not on the House Public Safety and Homeland Security committee any more. This committee is appointed by the Speaker of the House. Her name is still on all the lists, which list 15 legislators in the committee.
We are going to support HB24, the distracted driving bill, this year. This is not a motorcycle bill, but it will possibly make the roads safer for us if it passes and is enforced.
Chris reminded us to utilize social media. We’ll use it to coach our members to get in touch with their legislators.
We will invite the local reps/senators to our February meeting. Michael is bringing Pete Kupfer, who will be running for Victor Gaston’s seat.
We discussed the trend toward more tech in cars – bigger screens in the dash, taking more of the driver’s attention. We also discussed ideas to deal with the perception problem that causes drivers to turn left right in front of us. With all the electronics in cars, why can’t they install sensors that would stop the car before it pulls into our path of travel?
The Noccalula Falls chapter of Dixie ABATE awarded Michael Stieber $200.00 for winning the 2021 State Park Challenge, and he promptly handed it to the secretary for a lifetime membership. Thank you, Michael!
Our next meeting is at 2 PM on Saturday, February 19, at Judy’s Place, 3977 Government Street, Mobile, AL.