Bikers Take the Hill
This week was the 11th Annual Michael “Boz” Kerr Bikers Inside the Beltway event in Washington D.C. Nearly 150 bikers from 28 states made the journey to Washington D.C., to advocate for issues of importance to the motorcycle community. With kickstands up at 6:45am, an armada of bikes rolled down the streets of Washington to the doorstep of the U.S. Capitol Building.
Riders met with almost 300 Congressional offices to discuss issues like motorcycle profiling, autonomous vehicle technology, the definition of a motorcycle and consumer education surrounding ethanol. It goes without saying that when 100 plus bikers start roaming the halls of Congress people take notice. In fact, we were so visible that a Congressman started up a conversation with a few riders in an elevator and the next day signed on to our profiling resolution!
The MRF would like to thank all those that participated in the Bikers Inside the Beltway event. We know that coming to Washington requires time, money and effort on your behalf, but it is an invaluable way for us to advocate for our priorities. Included in the contingent were representatives from many State Motorcycle Rights Organizations (SMRO), the Confederation of Clubs, the National Coalition of Motorcyclists, the National Council of Clubs and the Motorcycle Profiling Project. Everyone coming together in Washington, to accomplish the shared goals. The D.C. team would not be successful without the grassroots effort of our members and partners.
Next week Congress is in recess for Memorial Day and most lawmakers will return home to their districts to meet with constituents. If you were unable to make it to Washington, next week is a great opportunity to stop by your Congressman’s local office to chat with them about the motorcycle community. Below is a link to the issue papers on topics we discussed in Washington. These one-page papers are a great way to educate lawmakers on issues of importance to motorcyclists. We need to keep up the pressure and make sure that our concerns are not forgotten. 2019 Bikers Inside the Beltway Talking Points
First Time Riders
While bikers from around the country were meeting with lawmakers, the MRF in connection with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) and MRF Awareness & Education (MRF A&E), hosted an open house where Capitol Hill staff had the opportunity to “ride a motorcycle” inside a government building. The smart trainer provided by MRF A&E was a unique opportunity for Capitol Hill staffers to try their hand at riding a motorcycle. For many, this was their first experience to understand the skills required to operate a motorcycle.
The leadership of the MRF including President Kirk “Hardtail” Willard and Vice President Jay Jackson welcomed Michael Fox from the NTSB to the open house. Michael is the lead government investigator for all accidents involving motorcycles nationwide. Michael is a passionate motorcyclist who understands the balance between safety and personal freedom. Michael was excited to be part of Bikers Inside the Beltway and pledged to work with the MRF to find common ground on issues we can agree on.
Bikers Inside the Beltway was the perfect opportunity for the MRF to thank specific lawmakers who have been true champions for our movement. On Tuesday, Senator John Thune of South Dakota and Congressman Mike Burgess of Texas were presented with their MRF Legislator of the Year vests.
Senator Thune was the lead Republican in introducing the AV START Act – the first federal framework to mandate the regulation of automated vehicles. Prior to the bill’s introduction, his office worked directly with ABATE of South Dakota and the MRF to understand riders’ concerns on the issue and then included motorcycle-specific considerations in the bill.
Jiggs Cressy, Executive Director of ABATE of South Dakota presented Senator Thune with his vest and stated, "Senator Thune has not only been a close family friend but has also been a dedicated servant to South Dakota for many years. He has also been a supporter of the mission of ABATE of South Dakota, and the MRF. Senator Thune and his staff have always made time to listen to the concerns and opinions of motorcyclists from both South Dakota and across the country. I can't think of any Senator more deserving of this honor than Senator Thune."
At a ceremony in front of the U.S. Capitol with riders in attendance, Kirk “Hardtail” Willard presented Congressman Burgess with his legislator of the year vest. Congressman Burgess spoke about the formation of the House Motorcycle Caucus and his efforts over the last decade to fight for the rights of motorcyclists. Congressman Burgess was joined at the podium by Congressmen Tim Walberg of Michigan and Congressman Troy Balderson of Ohio. All three Congressman are riders, members of the House Motorcycle Caucus and passionate about protecting riders on and off the road.
For 30 minutes after the ceremony the three Congressmen chatted with riders from all over the country, sharing stories about their experiences and their efforts back home to fight for issues of importance to motorcyclists. The MRF thanks not only Senator Thune and Congressman Burgess but Congressman Walberg, Congressman Balderson and all the Members of Congress who took time this week to meet with and listen to riders.
An event of this size requires hard work and long hours by board members, employees and volunteers. A few individuals went above and beyond, and we’d like to give them a special shout out.
Tiffany Cipoletti, MRF Director of Operations, not only spent hours scheduling meetings and drafting talking points but also spent nearly three full days navigating the bureaucratic maze that is the Washington D.C. Department of Parking. This effort allowed over 100 motorcycles to safely ride and park in our nation’s capital.
Dave Dwyer, SSMRO Representative to the MRF board and fellow ABATE of Wisconsin member ‘Seven’ lead the procession of motorcycles from the hotel in Virginia to the steps of the U.S. Capitol.
Fred Harrell, MRF Director of Conferences and Events, coordinated affordable hotel packages and meeting space for attendees. This is no easy feat in one of the most expensive metropolitan areas of our country.
Ron Braaksma from the MRF A&E, drove over 1,000 miles to Washington with a smart trainer hitched to his truck. The smart trainer gave congressional staff a small look into the skill set that is required to ride a motorcycle.
Finally, we would like to thank our SSMRO partners for supporting this event, the MRF and its board members who spent the days prior to the event in meetings and discussion groups working to keep the MRF a vibrant and relevant voice for motorcyclists.
Thank you to all for a great event and we hope to see even more riders in Washington D.C. next year!