ABATE of Washington Black Thursday 2019

ABATE of Washington will hold their annual “Black Thursday” event on January 17. The event gives Washington motorcyclists a chance to let state legislators know what they think of proposed laws and changes to laws that affect all motorcycle enthusiasts.

It begins at 10 a.m. with an optional ride led by COC from Hawks Prairie KSU to the state capitol building. Speeches will be given on the capitol steps beginning at 10:45. You can enjoy coffee and donuts inside the building in the Columbia room. Nosh with fellow riders and probably buttonhole some legislators.

The day will end with a Meet and Greet at the Governor Hotel, 621 Capitol Way. The Meet and Greet is BYOB, and there will be live music.

ABATE of Wisconsin is dedicated to freedom of choice. For example, ABATE is often said to oppose helmets, but actually it just wants riders to be free to choose between wearing and not wearing one.

Eagle Leather is partnering with ABATE of Washington to present a Question and Answer session about proposed laws and changes to laws. This session will be held from noon to two p.m. on January 26 at the Eagle Leather store in Lakewood. Brian Lange, ABATE of Washington’s Legislative Affairs Officer, will try to answer all your questions. These are some of the items you might have concerns about:

Lane splitting or lane sharing is the practice of riding between lanes of congested traffic. It’s been legal in California for a while now, and many studies have shown that it’s relatively safe. We talked about lane splitting before.

The Vulnerable User law applies to you as a motorcycle rider or as a pedestrian as well as to people riding bicycles or animals. Altogether, vulnerable users account for about forty percent of fatal accidents on Washington roads. When a vulnerable user is struck and substantially injured, for example at a stop sign, the driver at fault is often just given a traffic citation for “failure to stop.” ABATE would like to see a law that enhanced the penalty to the level of a gross misdemeanor under certain conditions. Those conditions would separate accidents from the result of reckless behavior and would include behaviors that already violate the law such as speeding, driving distracted or under the influence, failing to stop, and so on.

The Motorcycle weight fee currently is the same for a recreational vehicle that might weigh four thousand pounds as it is for a thousand-pound motorcycle. ABATE would like to see the fee lowered in proportion to the actual weight of the motorcycle. After all, lowering the fees will encourage more people to use motorcycles instead of cars. And since motorcycles weigh less, they make for less wear and tear on roadways and also reduce emissions.

Motorcycle parking is an issue because the way we’ve been taught to park our bikes is actually illegal and riders are being ticketing for illegal parking when they either back into pull forward into the curb. The law (RCW 46.61.575) says, in short, that all vehicles have to have two wheels parallel to the curb. ABATE wants to amend that law to clarify that it’s not for motorcycles. Otherwise, our bikes will be taking up a full parking space, and that’s a lot of space, since there are over a quarter of a million of us.

ABATE wants to see a helmet choice pilot program. The information packet for Black Thursday (available here) cites many studies purporting to show that helmets don’t significantly change fatality rates for motorcyclists. ABATE wants the state to conduct a study to see how allowing motorcycle enthusiasts to choose whether or not to wear a helmet affects fatality rates. At Eagle Leather, we support the use of helmets, but ABATE just wants riders to be able to choose.

Whatever your opinion on these legislative matters, we urge you to inform yourself on the issue and then let your state legislator know what you think. Our Question and Answer session on the 26th is a great way to start getting informed.

We’ll have the coffee pot on!