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motorcycle-only checkpoints

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Don’t say that the 114th US Congress hasn’t done anything for you, as the American Motorcyclists Association (AMA) is happy to report that our legislature has passed a $305 billion highway bill – The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act – which has a number of favorable provisions for motorcyclists. The big wins come in the form of funding for recreational off-road trails, and the prohibition against motorcycle-only checkpoints, two growing concerns that the AMA has been involved in fighting. The Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act now goes to the desk of President Obama, where it is expected to be signed it into law.

Take heart my two-wheel riding cohort: four courageous, topical, and freedom-loving senators are fighting for your right not to be discriminated against based on the number of wheels between your knees.

A bipartisan bill introduced in the U.S. Senate on March 5th aims to prohibit the use of federal funding to programs that seek to setup “motorcycle-only checkpoints.”

The aptly named, “Stop Motorcycle Checkpoint Funding Act,” would restrict the Secretary of Transportation from granting funds to government entities that want to make sure you and your passenger have on a helmet, amongst other things.

We are getting to the home-stretch in our campaign to petition the federal government to stop the funding of motorcycle-only checkpoints, so the question is: have YOU signed it yet (and shared it with your moto-loving friends)?

First implemented by the State of New York, inspection checkpoints that apply only to motorcycles have become a more common practice across the United States, and are an act of discrimination that is primarily due to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s (NHTSA) funding of the practice through special grants.

Implemented under the guise of operating for the public’s safety, states like New York have been able to target motorcyclists at checkpoints for vehicle and passenger inspection, even when the motorcyclists have broken no apparent laws, with no similar checkpoints being setup for automobile drivers.

An alarming trend in the unfair application of the law, some states, like California, have been able to preemptively ban the practice through their legislative branches; however, other states like New York have continue using motorcycle-only checkpoints, with the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit recently affirming motorcycle-only checkpoints as lawful in New York.

Over two years ago, the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) urged NHTSA Administrator David Strickland to cease the NHTSA’s funding of motorcycle-only checkpoints. After denying the request, the NHTSA has continued to provide federal funds to state and local police programs for the specific use of these checkpoints (the NHTSA’s response is here).

While the issue will be delayed for years in the courts, there is something that we as motorcyclists can do now in order to enact change. You may have already heard of The White House’s “We the People” website, a site where citizens can petition the federal government for specific actions, and if enough people sign a petition, President Obama and his staff have to take the matter under consideration. Click here to sign the petition.

Twenty-four hours after starting a petition to the White House about ending the federal government’s funding of discriminatory motorcycle-only checkpoints, I am pleased to announce that the first hurdle of signatures has been reached, and the petition now sits on the front-page of the “We the People” website for the Obama Administration.

If in 30 days the petition can reach 25,000 signatures, it will be put before The President of the United States of America for a formal response. There is a long road ahead, but there is a chance here for us as motorcyclists to have some influence on the laws that affect us. To help explain the situation with motorcycle-only checkpoints, the process of petitioning the federal government, and some responses to nay-sayers, I’ve put the following FAQ together. And in case you haven’t already, click here to sign the petition.

Want to take a stand for the rights of motorcyclists? Here is your chance to stop the practice of motorcycle-only checkpoints. First implemented by the State of New York, inspection checkpoints that apply only to motorcycles have become a more common practice across the United States, and are an act of discrimination that is primarily due to the NHTSA funding of the practice through special grants. Implemented under the guise of operating for the public’s safety, states like New York have been able to target motorcyclists at checkpoints for vehicle and passenger inspection, even when the motorcyclists have broken no apparent laws.