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Pennsylvania Bikers Rally for Self-Driving Vehicle Protections

Hundreds of bikers urged Pennsylvania lawmakers to extend the automotive lemon law to motorcycles, grant motorcycle processions the same rights as funeral processions and continue supporting motorcycle safety training programs.

Motorcycles with American flags parked in front of the Pennsylvania Capitol
A rally for laws that protect motorcyclists is held by the Alliance of Bikers Aimed Toward Education of Pennsylvania, at the state Capitol in Harrisburg. June 5, 2023. (Dan Gleiter |
Hundreds of bikers descended on the Pennsylvania Capitol Complex on Monday to urge lawmakers to pass legislation that would protect motorcycle purchases from defects and motorcycle riders from self-driving vehicles.

Ken Edwards, legislative coordinator for Alliance of Bikers Aimed Toward Education of Pennsylvania, or ABATE of PA, said unlike other groups who come to the Capitol at this time of year as the state budget takes shape, “we don’t come here and ask for a pile of money. Don’t give us a big check. We just want the laws to be written in a way that treat us fair.”

Addressing the riders who came from across the state to participate in the group’s annual Capitol rally, Edwards said the group’s wish list is “very, very, very long.” While some of the items on that list have been there for years, a more recent one asks for a seat at the table when legislation governing automated vehicles is considered.

“We want those machines to see us when we’re out on the road,” Edwards said. “I do not want to become a crash test dummy for a better Tesla or a tractor trailer.”

He also plugged legislation that has passed the House - a similar bill was introduced in the Senate - to extend the automotive lemon law to motorcycles. This measure would require manufacturers to fix defects that impair the use, value or safety of motorcycles during the first year of ownership. Similar bills have been offered in the past but have yet to reach the governor’s desk.

“There’s no reason not to make that happen,” Edwards told the crowd.

Similarly, legislation has been offered in both chambers to grant motorcycle processions many of the same rights provided for funeral processions such as allowing them to proceed through red lights and stop signs as a group.

“It will give us the ability in those events, mostly tribute events for fallen firefighters, servicemen and fundraising charitable events, to proceed as a group,” Edwards said in an interview prior to the rally. “It’s not just guys going out trying to take control of a town. That’s not what we do. It’s a tribute route and fundraiser.”

Another issue that ABATE lists as a priority is ending police profiling motorcyclists because of the clothes they wear or the message they wear on their backs.

“We want to be respected. We want to be treated like people,” he said. “We don’t want to be treated differently because of the type of transportation we choose.”

Lastly, the group is urging the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to continue to support motorcycle safety training programs.

“We think trained riders are the best statistic we can have,” Edwards said. “They’re safer riders. They’re good for everybody.”

Eric Mershimer, the state coordinator of ABATE of Pa, used his time at the microphone to remind those in attendance of what motorcycle rights’ organization does in addition to fighting for legislation to protect riders’ rights and freedom.

“We represent over 800,000 riders in Pennsylvania,” he said. “We do more than just ride around and come to rallies. Throughout the state, this year, we donated over $100,000 to 61 different charities in Pennsylvania.”

What’s more, he said the credit for all the “watch out for motorcycles” signs that dot lawns around the state belongs to them.

©2023 Advance Local Media LLC. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
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