Black Thursday is an annual event held by ABATE of Washington State at which motorcycle enthusiasts join to lobby their legislators about issues of special interest to the motorcyclists. This year, Black Thursday falls on January 16.
The event begins with an optional ride to the capitol at Olympia from the Hawks Prairie Casino KSU at 10:00 a.m. At 10:45 a.m. speakers will address the rally from the steps of the capitol building. After the speeches, group photographs will be taken.
Inside the building, in the Columbia Room, you can enjoy coffee and donuts and mingle with fellow motorcycle enthusiasts as you prepare for lobbying.
During the day, you can meet with your state representative and state senator. You’ll find some helpful tips for a productive meeting in this week’s Safety Tip.
In the evening, the “Biker Bash” Meet and Greet gives you another opportunity to meet legislators. It’s a BYOB affair at the Red Lion Inn (formerly the Governor Hotel) at 621 Capitol Way in Olympia.
You can, of course, lobby your legislators without attending the Black Thursday event. You might make an appointment to meet them at a more convenient time. You can phone their Olympia office and speak to the legislator or to the staff. Or, you can visit or phone their local office.
The issues of special importance to ABATE this year are explained in a Black Thursday Packet you can download here: https://www.abate-wa.org/Legislative/BlackThursday. The link is at the bottom of the page.
The Helmet Choice Pilot Program bill allows for riders (21 years old or older) to choose whether or not to wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle. This bill requires the WA State Traffic Safety Commission to gather data on motorcycle fatalities related to head injuries over a three-year period. In the Abate Black Thursday Packet, you’ll find studies and statistics related to the safety of helmets and accident and fatality statistics from states where helmets are optional for adults.
Another issue is allowing lane filtering, in which, under certain specified condition, motorcycle riders can filter between two lines of slow or stopped traffic. This law would use the recommendations of the California Highway Patrol. This law is HB1515 & ESB5623.
The Motorcycle In-depth Accident Study (MAIDS) showed that, if just 10% of the vehicles were motorcycles and their riders used lane filtering in a traffic jam, overall traffic congestion would be decreased by 40%. That’s because motorcycles would not be in the lines of cars, taking up space. The study showed that lane filtering can reduce commute times for everyone by twenty minutes or more.
Lane filtering reduces the chances of rear-end collisions for motorcycle riders. It also reduces their exposure to toxic exhaust fumes, which can cause heart disease, cancer, high blood pressure, and more, according to a 2014 University of Washington study.
There’s a problem with the lane filtering bill now being discussed in the legislature. The language of ESB5623 has been changed since it was passed by the Senate Transportation Committee. Right now, it’s language is so restrictive that it essentially defeats the purpose of the bill and restricts riders to dangerous areas of the highway when they filter forward. ABATE, and many other Washington State motorcylists want the original language restored.
Another issue is parking. The Parking bill would let motorcyclists park with their rear tire to the curb and it would allow more than one motorcycle to park in the same space.
Black Thursday is a marvelous opportunity to make your voice heard in company with other motorcycle enthusiasts. If you can’t take advantage of it, then please let your legislators know how you feel about these issues in person, by phone, online, or by snail mail. Every voice counts, and it’s up to you to be heard.
We welcome you to share your experiences with your legislators—from any state—on the Eagle Leather Facebook page.