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Posts Tagged ‘Motorcycle Discrimination’

Brammo_CEO

Craig Bramscher (Brammo CEO) and Oregon Sen. Ron Wyden

Equal treatment from the state and federal government.  It’s a topic that many motorcycle groups and individuals invest a lot of time to ensure.

Whether it’s fighting against profiling of average citizens who ride motorcycles or “anti-gang bills” that defines a gang as “an association of three or more individuals who share a symbol or name either formally or informally.”  Or maybe it’s calling out press organizations who use motorcycle club sensationalism to sell advertising which has the added benefit of isolating the motorcycle riding segment of our population from the mainstream and tries to “criminalize” motorcyclists in the court of public opinion.

But, today economic factors have me advocating on behalf of the motorcycle “Eco-Activist”.  Specifically the manufacturers that make electric two-wheeled vehicles.   They have been largely discriminated against and cannot benefit from the numerous government incentives designed to spur the growth and adoption of electric vehicles.  Remember the Clunker Program?  Motorcyclists need not apply!

However, there are some positive signs with HR 3246, which is called the Advanced Vehicle Technology Act.  The U.S. House of Representatives unanimously passed the amendment giving two-wheel electric vehicles manufacturers access to Department of Energy funding for further development of electric vehicles.  For the EV industry this will allow, for the first time, two wheel vehicles to benefit from federal Department of Energy funding which automobiles enjoy.

Plug IN America was instrumental in getting this legislation passed in the house, but as you may recall a bill must pass both the House and Senate and then be signed by the President.  And while it’s gratifying to see the House of Representative approve and show support for electric motorcycles, the Senate needs to follow suit.  I encourage motorcyclists to take a moment to tell their U.S. Senator’s to support and pass this measure when it comes up to vote. A complete list of Senators and their contact information can be found here.

Photo courtesy of Brammo.  Full Disclosure: I don’t work for or have an investment or ownership in Brammo.

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posse_rushmoreWhy does the Federal government discriminate against motorcycles?  National Parks are the biggest offenders. 

A recent example is from a trip to Sturgis to visit the granite monolith of Presidents at Mount Rushmore.  You pull up to the facility entrance and you’ll notice signs of a $10 (Cars, Motorcycles, and RV’s) fee.  Clear thinking people will immediately notice that the price applies to a family of eight touring the Black Hills of SD in a rusted out RV or two-up on a motorcycle.  Huh?  Talk about a rip off!

So, I sent an email to the U.S. Department of the Interior to get the discrimination scoop:

Dear Mr. Interior,

As a motorcyclist I feel discriminated against when visiting your fine monument.  I arrived over the summer to witness long lines of motorcycles, automobiles, vans, and RV’s packed with people eager to park and take photos of the stone Presidents.  To my shock I was required to pay a $10 fee just like all the other vehicles.  Yet, when my lovely “model” passenger informed the heavy soda drinking Park Ranger that we could not fit six people on the prize winning custom Black Harley-Davidson he just sneered and gave us $10 change from the Andrew Jackson…no sir not fair, not very fair at all…is it?

The attached photo (above) is of the posse who spent $80 to enter your facility on motorcycles.

Signed – Mac (Feeling ripped by the Department of the Interior)

The reply from the Interior’s head dude:

Dear Mr. Mac Rant,

Thank you for submitting an email on November 5, 2008, concerning your visit to Mount Rushmore National Memorial over the summer. The legislation that established Mount Rushmore National Memorial prohibits charging an entrance fee at the Memorial. No fees have been charged at the Memorial prior to the summer of 1997 when a parking fee was established.

This fee you reference is charged to pay for the cost of the construction and operation of the parking facility only. The new facility was necessary to accommodate the increased length of stay due to the new facilities now available at the Memorial. We determined after much effort that a federal appropriation to build the facility was not possible. Therefore, the National Park Service issued a concession contract for the design, construction and operation of a parking facility.

The concessionaire is allowed to collect a fee that will pay these costs. The concessionaire has set a standard rate of $10 for all personal vehicles. The concessionaire does not make special accommodations for various sizes of personal vehicles. In this method, we hope to keep our policies fair for everyone who visits the memorial. The parking concessionaire is also a non-profit organization, the Mount Rushmore National Memorial Society. Any income above expenses that might arise from the parking revenues is returned to assist the memorial with operations and maintenance.

We do appreciate your interest in Mount Rushmore National Memorial and you taking the time and initiative to learn more about the management of the memorial.

Signed – Park Ranger Bob

Bummer.  The ‘ol form letter from the government.  How ironic that I’ve been “stone-walled!”  What is it with these government types?  Let’s peel back some of the political layers here.  The DOI is the nation’s principal conservation agency.  It has over 80K employees at over 2400 locations across the U.S.  It has a $15.8B annual budget of which $12.9B are revenues collected from energy, mineral, land sales and recreational management.

rushmore_parkSo, what we have here is an aggressive commercialization situation by parking thugs concessionaire’s and us motorcyclist provide financial assistance way above all others who have a similar desire to visit the park.  This goes way beyond any reasonable common sense test!  Yet we continue to pay and provide the most generous contributions.  Clearly the Park Management knows this is the case.  I’m sure they have attendance reports that show half of the parking fee revenue is generated from motorcycles yet we don’t consume the equivalent parking space.  In 2007, over 2M visitors came to the monument.  I’ve solicited a report via the freedom of information act (FOIA) which will provide detailed information on the revenue break out and I’ll provide an update on the findings.

Given that budgets have grown tighter and the reality of federal appropriations for parks, it would be a good bet that this parking policy will never change.   So, on your next trip might I suggest as a sign of “cage” protest that we use one full parking space per motorcycle and send a message that we’re tired of the rip-off!

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