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2005 Legal Issues

Lots of movin' and shakin' going on around the Northwest for motorcyclists

In 2005 several legal issues will be fought, and not all in Olympia.

Snohomish Antique & Classic Motorcycle Show

The 9th annual Snohomish Antique and Classic Motorcycle Show is slated for May 5th but the question is - will it happen?

Snohomish City Manager, Larry Bauman, reports that county budget reductions will limit the number of sheriffs officers needed to provide security for the event below past years levels. 

From ABATE's point of view it appears members of The Historic Downtown Snohomish (HDS) committee are determined to terminate the event and have been looking for ways to do so for several years.

At press time the special permits required had not been issued.

Simultaneously the city of Snohomish is also currently embroiled in a controversy over a BBQ business which has attempted to paint several naked pigs on their downtown building.  Pigs are naturally naked creatures, but the cities design board fears this could later lead to paintings of naked people as reported by the Associated Press. 

For more insight on the bike show controversy , allot yourself a few minutes, grab your favorite beverage and read the emails and dialogue between the HDS committee, the city council and ABATE which were ascertained through the Freedom of Information Act by ABATE and their attorneys at
http://www.snohomishbikeshow.org/05show/041207CommReport4web.pdf

MXGP Shut Down

The County of Snohomish is determined to shut down one of the only legal outdoor motocross tracks in the state. Although MXGP has jumped through every hoop necessary to maintain the track, the county is citing various land use issues in their attempt to close the track.

Legal tracks are a rarity, and without them we will see more and more backyard tracks occur, which doesn’t do anyone a bit of good.

The following is lifted from an email that recently circulated:

In Monroe, WA - as you may have read about in the papers recently - a wonderful motocross facility resides. The facility, known as MXGP (formerly Sky River Motocross Park), has 3 different tracks (kids, intermediate, advanced), and is an incredibly nice riding venue for families and individuals all over WA state who have come to love MXGP over the last 3 years.

But now the county wants to close MXGP down over land use issues. In addition, the county is considering the same with the baseball and soccer fields alongside the track and on the same property - saying that they too break the rules on land use issues - which is stunning to think that they would do this. Despite the location of the facility (MX tracks, soccer and baseball fields together) in a non-residential area, next to the Monroe penitentiary, alongside a state approved gun firing range, less than 1/2 a mile South of a commercial gravel pit, and smack dab in the middle of a flood zone - the county wants to shut the track and fields down over commercial/agricultural zoning issues. Once again, offroad motorcyclists are watching ANOTHER great riding area get shut down by bureaucrats - and this time, it's just a little too close to home. It is an important time for WA state motorcyclists to speak up and be heard, and that is why this message has been sent to you.

If you are in support of keeping riding areas open, PLEASE HELP THE OFFROAD AND MX RIDING COMMUNITY - even if you only ride streetbikes - by emailing the following sample message (or your own) to the email addresses below, which have been listed for you. For those who don't want to spend their time writing a message to the county officials of their own, you can simply cut and paste the body of the message below into an email, doing the same with the email addresses in the address box - making this a 30 second exercise. Here's the message, if you'd like to use it instead of your own version (which is recommended):

To all who are receiving this email, I am respectfully requesting that you reconsider Snohomish County's position and outlook on the local motorcycle race track known as MXGP. Motorcyclists have only so many places left in the state where they can ride, and MXGP should remain one of them - for the sake of the track's patrons and the many children and families who use the track on a regular basis. Like the soccer and baseball fields next to the track, families (many of whom are your constituents) are using the track for positive, family-based reasons - and the county should be in support of this, not fighting it. Additionally, by shutting down the track, the county is not just saying no to motorcycles and the families that ride them together - they're saying no to the many businesses that rely on the track's guests for revenues, and therefore no to the tax dollars generated from these businesses. MXGP is worth keeping, and could hardly be located in a better place - despite the zoning issues at hand. Please consider supporting alternatives to a closure of the track: after all, if motorcyclists can't ride in a flood zone, next to a prison, a gun firing range, and a gravel pit - with hardly a neighborhood or residence nearby - where will they be able to ride?

Then leave your full name. (Important)

Here are the Snohomish County Council members to send your email to. Additionally, the county council's main phone number is 425-388-3494... don't hesitate to call them personally and let them know how you feel, though your email and phone calls should refrain from any negative behaviors or language that would negatively impact MXGP's case:

gary.nelson@co.snohomish.wa.us
John.Koster@co.snohomish.wa.us
Jeff.Sax@co.snohomish.wa.us
kirke.sievers@co.snohomish.wa.us
Dave.Gossett@co.snohomish.wa.us
 

Lane Splitting Bill Returns

In 2004 HB 3159 went through the house in Olympia like a Denny’s Grand Slam mixed with 2 cups of coffee. HB 3159 attempted to make lane splitting legal in the State of Washington as it is in California.

The lesson learned here is that it’s not hard to get a House Bill on the docket, but without the support of groups like the Washington Road Riders Association, the AMA, ABATE or other legal beagles watch-dogging the bill through the house, nothing will happen. Many a great bill has died a quick death on the floor and this one will, again, most likely do the same.

At press time though, it appears a body of local major motorcycle safety experts in the state are interested in seeing such a bill pass, but not under the current language proposed, which is similar to the California language.

Instead the the body plans an approach which will take more time than available to get it through the house in 2005. But look for the bill to come again big time in 2006. In order to make that happen the body will write more acceptable language for a new bill, rally not only members of the house, but also the State Patrol, so that when the bill is officially introduced it will have a fighting chance of becoming reality. This is how to do a bill right.

The 2006 bill will carry the language of being a ‘Lane Sharing’ bill rather than lane splitting. Passing such a bill is just the beginning. The most critical part of a win will be to educate the public that motorcycles moving between and sharing lanes of traffic during congestion with autos is perfectly legal. In a state where road rage is ever present, the media machine will have to roll big time in an effort to ward off the otherwise ensuing insanity of the road rage public.

There’s plenty of work to be done in 2005. As a new year’s resolution, I challenge all Sound RIDER! readers to pick an issue or two and support it. It’s your bike, your passion and your world. Do what you can to make it the best it can be.

Tom Mehren/Winter 2005


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