Did you hear the rumor that police in New York are pulling over all SUVs (and ONLY SUVs) to check for seatbelts and paperwork?
No? Obviously not, because that would be dumb, right?
How about the one about motorcycle-only checkpoints then, to check that riders are wearing the right type of helmet, and that their paperwork is in order?
Then you might be surprised to find that is EXACTLY what is happening in New York right now. Motorcycles, and only motorcycles, are being stopped and checked for U.S. DOTcompliant helmets, legal exhaust systems, and compliance with licensing, registration and inspection regulations. Citations will be issued for any violations.
It is bad enough that this is happening in New York, but now other states have been offered up to $350,000 in federal funds from the National Highway Traffic Safety Authority (NHTSA) to expand this practice.
Can you say profiling?
Why are the police engaging in this clearly discriminatory practice? Well, of course, it is “for our safety”. And I’m sure if we dig deep enough we can throw in “for the children” and “for the environment” for good measure.
This may come as a surprise to some people, but motorcyclists KNOW that riding is more dangerous than driving a car or, for that matter, staying home and watching TV. They accept this risk because they love riding. The same can be said for people who ride horses, bicycles, or even drive a convertible – but I don’t see the police setting up road blocks specifically for them.
I have no problem with people being stopped for DWI, or even exhaust pipes that are obviously too loud. But surely there should be a simple rule – if a person is not doing anything overtly illegal then they should not be stopped, regardless of what they drive. To do anything else is just plain un-American.
What I really don’t understand is why people feel the need to stick their nose into other people’s business? I’m certain that motorcyclists are not asking for these checkpoints, and I presume the police are just following orders. So this can only be someone in high office with a bug up his rear about…something…and willing to spend our taxpayer dollars implementing checkpoints that no one wants.
In a time of economic crisis…shouldn’t that $350,000 be used on something that people actually want, or need?
The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) has questioned the legal nature of this program and submitted a list of questions for clarification to the New York State Police. To date, New York authorities have not responded.
Motorcyclists protest in London
In the mean time, groups like the New York Motorcycle & Scooter Task Force (NYMSTF) have set up a Twitter feed to alert people to the locations of these checkpoints by SMS. Their thought is to warn people away from these checkpoints, but I must admit my preference would be to flash-mob them with fully legal motorcycles instead.
Like the famous quote of First they came by Martin Niemöller – it is motorcycles today, but it could be you tomorrow. So make a stand. Use this link to send a note to Administrator Strickland or the NHTSA asking him to stop this discriminatory grant program until the questions posed by the AMA have been satisfactorily answered.
Let’s stop this type of discriminatory behavior now, lest we find ourselves being stopped based on some other random vehicle characteristic.