Bikers rallied for their rights at California's state capitol Saturday, addressing issues from police profiling to the harassment of riders in packs of three or more to the right to wear their colors.
It was a scene reminiscent of the cult classic “The Warriors.” You had Hells Angels standing peaceably next to Boozefighters, Henchmen next to Miscreants, with plenty of veteran clubs mixed in between. In a show of inter-club solidarity, packs of riders came from around California Saturday to denounce the quickly diminishing list of personal freedoms, like the right to wear a patch, to speak up against police profiling and harassment of motorcyclists and to lobby for the preservation of California biker culture. One pack 3.5-miles-long rode four-abreast from Oakland to the California Capitol Building in Sacramento to take part in the Motorcycle Rider Unification Rally as thousands of riders from all walks of life showed up to defend the lifestyle.
“This is our life, this is our culture, this is important to us. So, why are we here actually, why are we here today? We are here today because we decided to get off the couch and show our politicians we’re not only bikers and motorcycle enthusiasts, we are the united voice of our rights. We are no longer just a group of people that are a bunch of individuals, like huge human rights organizations, we have the same amount of power that they do with the one thing that makes us over the top – everyone rides a motorcycle. Every nationality, race, lifestyle, no matter what background, all ride motorcycles,” declared the first speaker, a representative of the United Motorcycle Clubs of Alameda County.
The unification rally was officially sponsored by the Biker Rights Organization, California ABATE, the Modified Motorcycle Association and the regional Confederations of Clubs in California according to The Aging Rebel blog. Its agenda included
Bikers came from near and far to lobby for the preservation of biker culture and lifestyle on the grounds of the capitol Saturday during the Motorcycle Rider Unification Rally in Sacramento.
“motorcycle rider profiling, motorcycle modification laws, harassment of bikers riding in groups of three or more, exhaust pipe noise reduction, reflectors on sportbikes and license plate placement on sportbikes.”
With signs heralding the Fourth Amendment waving above the crowd, other topics addressed included keeping lane-splitting legal, protecting the right to wear patches, and to lobby against lawmakers regulating biker culture into non-existence.
One of the points of contention is a national campaign by the NHTSA for Rider Conspicuity (Reflective Gear). Biker culture has long been identified by black leather vests and cuts that are earned as badges of honor. Clubs identities and loyalties are declared by the three patches they wear on their back. It is a source of fierce pride and bikers will protect the right to wear those patches to the death. The NHTSA “wants motorcyclists to be aware of how conspicuity issues affect their safety and prepare accordingly. We would like states to reconsider regulations that prohibit proven and safe conspicuity-enhancing modifications to lighting systems.” And though there is no known current legislation pending that extends those regulations to riders, there is a fear that underwritings might be snuck into a larger legislative bill that would mandate all riders to wear fluorescent gear, denying bikers the right to personal choice.
Legislation often starts in California before spreading across the US. The motorcycle noise and emission standards established by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) are the most stringent in the country, and CARB has levied heavy fines for non-compliance this past year, from Vance & Hines to Piaggio. Though these standards are aimed at manufacturers and companies on the surface, they quickly matriculate to the individual.
Saturday’s Motorcycle Rider Unification Rally demonstrated the power bikers can have when they temporarily set aside their differences and work together for a common cause. With preserving the biker culture and lifestyle as their battle cry, one speaker opined “We are the last Americans.”