Tuesday, May 10, 2011
Bad facts lead to bad laws #4598
Behold the perfect example of a discriminatory Texas motorcycle bill:
Last Action: 05/05/2011 S Received from the House
Caption: Relating to the regulation of sport bikes and certain other motorcycles.
1) Definition of a sportbike Section 541.201, Transportation Code, is amended by adding Subdivision (18-a) to read as follows: (18-a) "Sport bike" means a motorcycle: (A) that is optimized for speed, acceleration, braking, and maneuverability on paved roads; (B) that has a light weight frame; (C) on which the rider leans forward over the gas tank; and (D) is not a touring, cruiser, standard, or dual-sport motorcycle.
2) The passenger on a sportbike is defined as one who is 18 or older with an "M" endorsement SECTION 4. Subchapter I, Chapter 545, Transportation Code, is amended by adding Section 545.4161 to read as follows: Sec. 545.4161. OPERATION OF SPORT BIKE. (a) In addition to the requirements and prohibitions under Section 545.416, an operator may not carry another person on a sport bike unless the sport bike is designed to carry more than one person, and unless: (1) the operator: (A) is at least 18 years of age; and (B) has had a Class M license for at least two years; or (2) the other person: (A) is at least 18 years of age and holds a Class M license; or (B) is a motorcycle operator training and safety course instructor certified under Chapter 662. (b) An operator of a sport bike shall ensure that a passenger on the sport bike complies with all department regulations relating to motorcycle safety.
3) The addition of requisite 'safety' equipment to include: Sec. 547.803. SPORT BIKE SAFETY EQUIPMENT. If a sport bike is designed to carry more than one person, the sport bike must be equipped with foot pegs and handholds for use by a passenger on the sport bike.
4) Defining Motorcycle to include Sportbike SECTION 7. Section 661.001(1), Transportation Code, is amended to read as follows: (1) "Motorcycle" means a motor vehicle designed to propel itself with not more than three wheels in contact The term includes a sport bike, as defined by Section 541.201.
Did you follow all that? In a nutshell, this bill would effectively make it illegal to carry a passenger on a sportbike only (not a cruiser, touring bike, enduro, etc.), without at least two years as a licensed motorcyclist over the age of 18. Can you say discrimination against sportbikes?
This bill, also known as "Malorie's Law" (named after a young woman who, you guessed it, died while riding pillion behind an 18-year-old sportbiker) is now creating attention and controversy amongst Texas motorcyclists, but perhaps too late. It quickly made it through committee and already passed the Texas House almost unanimously. It's now on its way to the Texas Senate, where it could be passed for the governor to sign into law.
Needless to say, this is just another stupid, unenforceable law that'll only serve to hinder and hassle law-abiding riders.
Late in the game, many of us in Texas are sending letters to our senators. Here's mine:
Dear Senator Seliger:
Please vote against HB 2470, the discriminatory bill known as "Malorie's Law", which recently passed the Texas House.
HB 2470 attempts to discriminate against a specific type of motorcycle genre ("sportbike") in reaction to the death of a young woman who was unfortunately killed in a crash while riding pillion on one.
The bill would prohibit riders of sportbikes (a term which is effectively impossible to accurately define legally) who have been licensed for less than two years to carry a passenger. This law would not apply to the riders of so-called "cruiser", "touring", "standard" or "enduro" motorcycles, and is therefore highly discriminatory.
Furthermore, all licensed riders in Texas are already required to complete and pass a safety course which includes a classroom module on carrying passengers. In its discrimination, "Malorie's Law" would also be somewhat redundant.
Bad facts lead to bad laws, and emotional legislation instigated by grieving parents is often to blame. Please oppose HB 2470.
I oppose this proposed law primarily because it infringes my rights as a sportbiker. It singles me out as a bad apple simply because of the bike-type I ride, and it makes me subject to closer police scrutiny for no reason. It is discrimination. It's the same thing as saying, "My mom was killed by a red-headed guy, so I now want a law to put restrictions on red-headed guys being allowed out of their homes."
These coercive, aggressive actions do motorcycling, and the intent of law, a huge disservice. Perhaps somewhat ironically, the bike type associated with the most injuries and fatalities is *not* sportbikes, it is cruisers. This bill chases phantoms, and in the process it does nothing more than muddying the waters for law enforcement, while making motorcycle licensing more expensive and complicated for those of us who bother with doing it right.
Most importantly, I believe this law would result in more pursuits, more singling-out and discrimination against an already demonized motorcycle type, and impossible enforcement from a practical standpoint. I talked to a retired cop about this bill, and he said he wouldn't even allow his squads to use the law as it's now drafted, because there's no reliable way in the field to determine when a motorcycle endorsement was issued.
If you're a Texas motorcyclist, please stand up against this bill by contacting your senator immediately.
To read a lively and well-informed online forum thread concerning this bill, visit Two Wheeled Texans.