Black Thursday – Join us on Jan 17th in Olympia!
Written By Diana Olmstead
Many motorcycle riders have heard of Black Thursday and some have not. Black Thursday is organized by ABATE of Washington. ABATE of Washington is a non-profit organization whose primary purpose is citizens’ Rights as they apply to Motorcyclists. Take a moment and think about that… ABATE works hard to protect and restore the Rights of ALL OF US that choose 2 or 3 wheels as their mode of transportation. We often think of ABATE as a group that organizes some great motorcycle events, charity rides and parties but their mission is to educate riders, non-riders, the general public and elected politicians so that those who ride should never be subjected to unfair laws or discriminatory actions by law enforcement, the court system, or by fellow motorists driving automobiles .
Black Thursday is Jan 17th, 2013; it is the day that all motorcycle riders unite in one voice at the Washington State Capitol in Olympia to speak directly to our elected politicians regarding legislative issues pertaining to motorcyclists.
There are many riders who have a lot of questions about Black Thursday so I contacted someone who I feel is very knowledgeable on the subject and who works very hard spearheading Black Thursday year after year; his name is Donnie “Mr. Breeze” Landsman and he is the State Legislative Affairs Officer for ABATE of Washington. Donnie gave me some great insight and useful tips regarding how riders can make the most out of their upcoming Black Thursday experience:
The day is open to everyone from all facets of motorcycling, however before you attend Black Thursday do some research and be prepared. The first thing you need to know and understand are the 2 legislative issues ABATE is addressing for the 2013-2014 legislative session:
#1) MALFUNCTIONING RED-LIGHTS: Motorcyclists have been hindered in their movements by the failure of detection loops and optical sensors to recognize their presence at many traffic signals. Currently there is no safe and lawful method for getting clear of a signal that will not sense a motorcycle. If you’re in a left turn only lane, there is no provision for a vehicle to merge back into the flow of traffic and go straight. Even if it was legal, this maneuver is quite hazardous, with a rider unexpectedly merging from a dead stop into an unsuspecting traffic flow. For the rider in the through lane, the option of making a right on red, followed by a U-turn, is much more hazardous than simply waiting until traffic is clear and, exercising due caution, proceeding through the intersection as if the red light was a stop sign.
The Washington State Legislature has been asked to address and remedy the State statute to address signals when the signals fail to respond to motorcycles. There are now 13 states that have enacted a law that provides immediate remedy to motorcyclist when they encounter a traffic signal that does not recognize the presence of a motorcycle. To date, no state has tried to rescind it. It is a sound and reasonable solution to an existing problem.
#2) HELMET LAW MODIFICATION/REPEAL: The helmet issue has been in question in Washington State for 20 years. ABATE has continued to bring the issue forward in every legislative session since the mandatory helmet law was put in place. No matter the method that they have employed, the choice has not been restored to the Washington State motorcycle community. Yet earlier this year, Michigan legislators passed legislation to allow Freedom of Choice, thus becoming the 31st State to have some level of helmetless travel.
For more detailed information about these 2 legislative issues go to www.abate-wa.org and download the Legislative Issues Packet.
Now that you’ve done your research on the legislative issues it’s time to figure out how to make your voice heard and to whom! Simply go online to www.leg.wa.gov to find your local legislative district; click the find “find your Legislator” at the top left side of the page. Once on that page type in your address & click “Find my district”. It will show you who your Senator and Representatives are for your district and how to contact them. Now you know exactly who to speak with on Black Thursday.
The next step is to contact your Legislators office to schedule an appointment time so that you can speak directly to your local Legislators while attending Black Friday on Jan 17th.
It’s easy to sit back and complain about all of the outdated, unfair laws that affect motorcycle riders but sitting back certainly won’t result in change. We need your voice to be heard, we need to come together as one.
No doubt Washington State is on the forefront of passing laws that make economic sense. Marijuana is now legal; voters and taxpayers are sick and tired of wasting money fighting an issue that’s just not that big of a deal in comparison to using our taxpayers’ monies to fight violent crimes, shut down meth houses, or to simply put those dollars into keeping our local cities afloat and in good running order. Washington has also legalized same sex marriage, yet we motorcycle riders must fight to pass something as sensible as being allowed to make a free left hand turn when sitting stranded at a malfunctioning red light while riding a legal, licensed & taxed motorcycle?
It’s time to get real. Politicians need to understand that the overwhelming majority of motorcycle riders are hardworking people, we pledge alliance to flag with pride, we pay our taxes, we support our families and we are voters. We’re also their next door neighbor, their kids’ teachers, their doctors, Boeing workers, mail carriers, garbage men, secretary’s, etc. We represent everything great about living in the USA and the freedoms that go along with it.
So motorcycle riders please take one day out of your life and stand up for what is right and just. You will feel good knowing that your voice and your beliefs were heard by those that need to hear it most – our elected officials.
Black Thursday, Jan 17th, is open to everyone who rides. The day starts as early as 8am but feel free to stop by and offer your support throughout the entire day. There is reserved motorcycle parking on the North Diagonal.
For more detailed information about Black Thursday go to www.abate-wa.org. Another suggestion is to get involved by joining and attending your local ABATE Chapter meetings. It’s only $30 to join ABATE and $25 a year to renew.