Two years ago, we took an exit off FDR Drive on the east side of Manhattan, and were waved to the side of the road by two police officers. We stopped, perplexed, and asked why we had been pulled over. They explained that it was a motorcycle-only checkpoint and demanded our license, insurance, and registration. We provided it and were waved on, but stopped at the next block when we saw two more police officers on the corner. Big mistake! They wrote us a ticket for filtering through lanes (we had ridden past a stopped car to get to them), and one for no proof of insurance (they wandered off before we could dig through our pockets again to find it). Their behavior was intrusive and discriminatory.
That’s why we’re so pleased to see that 50 U.S. House Members have signed onto a bill that would prohibit the U.S. transportation secretary from funding for motorcycle-only checkpoints. Representative Jim Sensenbrenner of Wisconsin authored H.R. 904, and would prohibit the grants or funds from the transportation secretary to states, counties, towns, townships, Indian tribes, municipalities, or other local government to check safety equipment or set up arbitrary motorcycle checkpoints.
Sensenbrenner and Rep. Tom Petri (R-Wis.) teamed up with 29 other Congressmen to send a letter to the House-Senate Transportation Reauthorization Conference Committee to request that the conference report include language specifically prohibiting the transportation secretary from funding motorcycle-only checkpoints.
The letter included the following two paragraphs:
“Motorcycle-only checkpoints are a controversial and unproven method of addressing motorcyclist safety and have not been an efficient use of limited federal dollars. The very existence of this program essentially profiles a group of citizens — the motorcycling community — for operating a legal mode of transportation”
“The DOT should focus on programs to instruct motorcyclists on the importance of proper licensing, rider education, and motorcycle awareness campaigns.”
Police have been setting up motorcycle-only checkpoints since 2007, often on the outskirts of motorcycle events like Bike Week and Rolling Thunder.