ABATE, in all it's various forms across America, has always been labeled as the "helmet" lobby and that's as true here in Ohio as anywhere else. We don't lobby "against" helmet usage but rather for the right of adult riders to make a choice concerning helmet usage. The difference seems small but it is NOT. Still, when talking to the brethren that ride sport bikes that is the perception they have of us and it's that perception that keeps them from joining. They have been wearing helmets since they started riding, plain and simple. They wear helmets and nothing we can say to them about "choice" will excite them into joining our organization.
What about the fact that the Federal government is seriously looking at European Union type clothing standards with an eye toward putting something similar in place here in the good 01' U S of A? Now, your average ABATE member, he/she get all kinds of worked up when told that the Federal government is considering legislation that would decide for US what type of garments we should be wearing when we are riding our motorcycles. I don't want to ride my bike wearing so much reflective clothing that I look like a street sign! This is America! ABATE of Ohio actively advocates against such un-American types of legislation. Why? The answer is simple; we believe and support the idea of "adult choice".
Now, helmet use and clothing issues are not real big interest items to sport bike riders or so it has seemed to me. Sport bikers just don't seem to see them as a real big deal. I pondered this problem, trying to find an answer as to what information ABATE could bring to our young Ohio riders that would make our case and persuade them that they needed to join ABATE and get involved in the fight to protect motorcycling. What information might ABATE provide that would make our case and prove that ABATE of Ohio IS relevant to them? What would stoke their interest in joining?
The answer to that question was provided to the entire motorcycling world at the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) seminar that took place in Washington DC in September. At this conference serious discussions and panel presentations took place concerning renewing the effort, on a national basis, to put a universal mandatory helmet law in place. Yes, this was also the conference were attendees from various governmental agencies not particularly friendly to ANY type of motorcycle rider discussed and supported the idea of universal mandatory clothing laws. So, given that the sport riders do not seem to care about mandatory helmet or clothing laws, what did the seminar presenters bring before those of us who attended that WOULD be of interest to them? What proposed regulation would they find hateful enough to make them want to join an organization like ABATE?
Have you ever heard of, Graduated licensing, "End of Life" and Anti-tampering legislation? Graduated licensing has been, and still is, VERY popular in the European (and other) regions of the world for year"s. It is touted as an effective way to train a motorcyclist because it limits his/her access to the larger cc type motorcycles until he/she has acquired the skills, the training and the MONEY needed to move up to the next level of riding. Why, you may ask, do I emphasize the word "Money"? Because that's the real bite in graduated licensing systems. It requires some serious cash outlays to get the training needed to move up to a larger bike. Simply put, the bigger a bike you want to ride, the more cold hard cash it will require up front to be able to ride it.
Take your typical 18-year-old. Under our current system to ride a 1000cc-sport bike all he/she needs is an easily obtainable operator's license with a motorcycle endorsement and a good job. Under a graduated system, as a novice rider, he/she would only be able to purchase up to a 200cc motorcycle and he/she would be required to remain at this level till at least his/her 21 st birthday, three years later. Now, let's not forget that he/she would be required to take training to receive his/her endorsement before he/she can even purchase a 200cc bike! Let us also not forget that, as a novice motorcyclist, his/her insurance bill is.gonna be a serious chunk of cash. I have heard discussions and read articles that state, using a very similar scenario to the one I just laid out, that it would cost that budding young motorcyclist between 3 and 4 THOUSAND dollars to start riding! It doesn't end there, either. Under the graduated system you wouldn't even move up to a 400 or 500cc machine until you'd been riding at least 5 or 6 years and you'd be spending between 6 and 7 thousand dollars between training, licensing and insurance costs to get there. Want to ride a big liter machine? A Haybusa or whatever is the most current~ serious big stud bike? I'm sure you won't mind waiting at least a dozen years and laying out 10 or 12 thousand dollars (and, again, that's just the cost of training and licensing)! Oh, and for those of you that say, "Hey, I'm not gonna buy a NEW bike, I'll be able to find something used or, something that I can rebuild", Ahhh, don't hold yer breath Brother, cause they got that angle figured in as well. It's a couple of little things they like to call "end of life" and "anti-tampering". The "End of Life" proposal sets a date when a vehicle is no longer considered road worthy and it must be destroyed. I've seen it speculated that this figure could be as low as 5 YEARS for motorcycles! Anti-tampering means that the only person who can work on your motorcycle would be the company that sold the bike in the first place. Have you checked up on what an hour in the local dealer shop costs lately?
So, think about it, won't you? ABATE just isn't about "helmets" anymore, not that it ever REALLY was. We're about protecting your right, as and honest to god American citizen, to determine what the best choices are for YOU! Do you want to be able to continue to have the right, the "freedom", to make those choices? Contact ABATE of Ohio, Inc. today a get involved in protecting YOUR freedoms!