Yesterday, I did something I have never done before.  I participated in a “peaceful rally”.  This rally was put on by the members of ABATE (American Bikers Aimed Toward Education) of New York.  The purpose for this rally is to fight the profiling of motorcycles and illegal roadblocks that target only motorcycles.  We rode downtown to the the Capitol building to make our voices heard.

The New York State Capitol

The bikers came out in large numbers.  I would guess that there were four or five hundred motorcycles that met in Schodack and rode into downtown Albany.  The line of motorcycles for a mile or so in front of you and behind you is quite impressive.

Halfway up the street

A little farther up the street. The bikes went on forever.

One of the main issues that were discussed today were the roadblocks that target only motorcycles on the way to Americade and the Harley Rendevous.  The police pull over motorcycles and issue ridiculous tickets for exhaust, helmet and license violations.  It’s not right.  I understand the helmet and license issue.  I wear a full face helmet all year round and would never ride with a brain bucket or no helmet at all.  That is my choice.  If people want to ride without a helmet, that is their choice.

What bothers me is these roadblocks are basically entrapment.  They only pull motorcycles over.  While you are there, they look at your pipes.  If they are not stock pipes, you get a ticket.  That is total crap.  My bike is obnoxiously loud (quote from my friends) and I wont change it.  I changed my pipes once.  I was going for my road test at the DMV and figured I would get flack for the pipes, so I had them swapped for the day.  On my way to the DMV, a car came over in my lane and I had nowhere to go but into the guard rail  I made my peace, confident I wasn’t walking away from this one.  Quick thinking on my part and a fast bike got me out of it.  I punched it and leaned it hard and was able to swerve clear of the guard rail.

That day, I swore to never change those pipes.  Most people think it’s just to be annoying, but people just don’t see you when you’re on the bike.  They are too busy eating or texting while driving and swerving all over the road.  I saw a t-shirt today that was dead on, but I didn’t get a picture of it.  It said “I’m sorry my loud pipes disturbed your phone call”.  Funny, but sad.  It amazes me how little people pay attention when they drive while talking on the phone.

Most people don’t understand or just don’t care that loud pipes do save lives.  I’m not saying I’ve never made unnecessary noise.  But for the most part, they are there for safety.  With my bike being as loud as it is, if you hit me and say you didn’t hear me (or feel the vibrations from the exhaust) there’s a problem.  You know when I am in your blind spot.  You know when I am next to you.

I can rant and rave here all day, but if I can reach a few people at a time and make them aware of motorcycles, it will make me very happy.  The best thing I have seen so far is a slogan that reads “Look Twice.  Save a Life.  Motorcycles are everywhere.”  There are a few variations of this saying.  Take the two seconds to turn your head and see if we are next to you.  Put down the phone and turn your head to see who’s there.  And this doesn’t just go for bikes.  We wouldn’t have all the accidents we do if people would just pay more attention.  It could save your life.  See ya soon!

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