Congress Seeks To Halt Federal Funding Of Motorcycle-Only Checkpoints

U.S. Reps. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) and Tom Petri ((R-Wis.), together with 29 additional members of Congress, have sent a letter to the leadership of the House-Senate Surface Transportation Reauthorization Conference Committee requesting the inclusion of language in the conference report that would prohibit the Secretary of Transportation from providing grants or any funds to states or local governments to be used for any program to create motorcycle-only checkpoints.

Responding to a nationwide appeal issued by the AMA on May 29, AMA members and concerned motorcyclists contacted their elected representatives and urged them to sign on to the Sensenbrenner-Petri letter. As a result, a bipartisan group of legislators now seeks to overturn a controversial federal program that unfairly discriminates against motorcyclists.

The AMA began tracking motorcycle-only checkpoints when they first appeared in New York in 2007. In 2011, using funds provided by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the state of Georgia conducted roadside motorcycle-only checkpoints as thousands of motorcyclists rode through the state on their way to Daytona Beach, Fla., for Bike Week, March 4-13. Another motorcycle-only checkpoint was conducted in northern Virginia during one of the nation’s most visible motorcycle rallies – Rolling Thunder – over the 2011 Memorial Day Weekend. Motorcycle-only checkpoints were also conducted in Utah when thousands of riders attended a world-class roadracing event. Three states have since outlawed the practice — Virginia, North Carolina, New Hampshire – and legislation to prohibit them has been introduced in Illinois, California, Missouri and New Jersey.

The letter stated: “MOCs [motorcycle-only checkpoints] are a controversial and unproven method of addressing motorcyclist safety and have not been an efficient use of limited federal dollars. The very existence of this program essentially profiles a group of citizens — the motorcycling community — for operating a legal mode of transportation.”

The letter, addressed to the conference committee chairs and ranking members, added: “The DOT should focus on programs to instruct motorcyclists on the importance of proper licensing, rider education, and motorcycle awareness campaigns.”

Representatives who signed the letter, in addition to Sensenbrenner and Petri, are (alphabetically): Sandy Adams (R-Fla.), Roscoe Bartlett (R- Md.), Dan Benisheck (R-Mich.), Mark Critz (D-Pa.), Jeff Denham (R-Calif.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) Sean Duffy (R-Wisc.), Bob Filner (D-Calif.), Corey Gardner (R-Colo.), Tim Griffin (R-Ark.), Kathleen Hochul (D-N.Y.), Bill Huizenga (R-Mich.),  Randy Hultgren (R-Ill.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill.), John Kline (R-Minn.), Donald Manzullo (R-Ill.), Candice Miller (R-Mich.), Ron Paul (R-Texas), Erik Paulsen (R-Minn.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.),  Mike Rogers (R-Mich.), Bobby Schilling (R-Ill.), Aaron Schock (R-Ill), Lee Terry (R-Neb.), Tim Walberg (R-Mich.), Joe Walsh (R-Ill.), Allen West (R-Fla.), and Joe Wilson (R-S.C.)

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