The reaction among windy city riders was predictable - they were outraged. ABATE of Illinois, the American Motorcyclist Association and the Motorcycle Riders Foundation swung into action. And after a long and protracted fight the signs were removed. The details of getting them removed would require a rather lengthy volume. For the purpose of the report it will suffice to say that language inserted into the interstate funding act of 1998 - called TEA 21- that would prohibit motorcycles from being denied access to federally funded roads (Lake Shore Drive is part of US 41) gave ABATE of Illinois a powerful tool to have the ban lifted. The Motorcycle Riders Foundation's constant presence in Washington was major factor in seeing that language remained in TEA 21.
On September 3, 2007 - as is their annual custom on Labor Day weekend - a large group of riders assemble in the morning on Chicago's trendy Weed Street. Under the Leadership of the Chicago Chapter of ABATE of Illinois they proceed to the Drive and "run it" from the North end to the South end and back again. This "in your face" gesture is a victory lap of sorts. Just to let the city know that we are still around and we haven't forgotten the attempt to restrict us from roads that we pay taxes on to maintain.
Many activists in the motorcyclists' rights movement have said all along that the ultimate goal of our enemies is not helmet laws or noise ordinances, but banning motorcycles off the roads entirely. Here was a classic case (there have been a number of others) of that prediction becoming a reality. One percenters, Gold Wing riders, HOG members - it didn't matter - they were greeted with the same message when they hit the drive. It was that motorcycles are prohibited.
What can the MRF do for us? This is a question that we hear on a regular basis. The political future and what type of legislation it may bring can be difficult to predict. If past performances are any indication however; the most apparent thing that the MRF can do for motorcyclists is to keep them on the road.
Fall is a great time to ride. Perhaps it may be a good time to find a favorite road and give some thought while riding as to how the cancerous growth of motorcycle bans has been arrested, but could reappear at anytime. Consider that ride to be your own victory lap and remember the MRF's legislative team continues to be the motorcyclists' watchdog in Washington DC. We are working everyday to see that your access to public roads remains intact.
Enjoy the ride.