There was this motocross guy, Brian Austin. He had made a mark on the professional circuit- nationally ranked, taught for motocross schools, and decided to buy a chunk of land in Chili, NY; just southwest of the city of Rochester, in a rural, farming community. What an ideal location for a motocross man to build a school, right? So it seemed… to date, Brian Austin has spent the last decade fighting the Town of Chili about riding dirtbikes, in the middle of the country, along the NYS Thruway, on HIS OWN LAND!. He cannot legally ride more than two motorcycles at a time on his property, and, for a decade, has been harrassed by claims of noise by his neighbors. He has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on lawyers and court fees to be heard. How is it in America, that a man cannot seek his pursuit of happiness, on his own land, because of a zoning law? Why, by the rule of Chili town government, that’s how. This decade, consider running for local government… you may save a really talented motorcross teacher from wasting all his time in court fighting for what is rightfully his.
And what about this helmet law in New York State? Where has that gone this decade? Oh, why stuck in the Assembly’s Transportation Committee, headed up by David Gantt. This Chairman is the most anti-biker politician I’ve ever met, who will, by his quote, “…die before the motorcycle helmet bill is repealed in New York State…” Great. Not for a lack of trying, many motorcyclists’ efforts in New York, such as ABATE, have worked tirelessly with politicians to perhaps move the bill along, but to no avail… but wait! There’s more! In this new decade, ABATE of NY’s Legislative Coordinator, George Gorman has come up with a strategic plan to get the bill noticed and voted on, whether Gantt dies or not. Requesting our representatives to discharge a bill and bring to a vote is a sure way for us to be heard. Commit yourself this decade to pushing yourself a little harder to protect our freedoms… you’ll feel good about yourself later, and one day we may have a choice in this state, at least about our helmets…wouldn’t that be delightful?
Half a decade ago, I was teaching fifth graders about how a bill becomes a law, and I had my friend, Scotty Twitchell, Legislative guy from Ontario County ABATE, come into my classroom to talk to the kids about the bill he helped write in New York State- the revision to the Yield Right of Way Law. Most accidents involving motorcycles are caused by right of way violations. The penalties were pitiful, and, unfortunately, after almost five years of rewrites, the law’s penalties are a bit stiffer, but no consolation to the loss of a loved one, or a loss of a lifestyle.. Meet your representatives. Talk to them about some of these real stories; you know, like the fact that my buddy, Tommy lost half a foot, his trade, his ability to ride, and his happiness because someone turned left into him and crushed him against another vehicle. He’s lucky to be alive. With hundreds of thousands of dollars of medical bills and insurance that doesn’t cover them, he doesn’t always feel so lucky. Talk to the representatives that work for us, people. Tell them the stories of the people we have lost; the people who have had their lives crushed, the people who will never ride again because someone didn’t see them. The government is a slow moving wheel, but it will turn if we give it a push. Its a new decade, let’s give it a try.
And finally, folks, remember the decade before 9/11. Our privacy as citizens is no longer. Red light cameras on the corner, roadblocks to “check for our safety,” government scandel and downright apathy toward the common man. Make this decade the decade you demand your rights. Make our government work for you. “Government, even iin its best state, is a necessary evil, and in its worst state, and intolerable one.” Thomas Paine.