Monday 26 September 2011

How to protest

Here in North America motorcyclists have many reasons to take issue with the governments of the day. Whether it’s helmet laws, noise bylaws targeting motorcycles only, restricted access areas, or even limits on the ages of passengers there is no shortage of causes that are worthy of protest.
And when we do, what happens? We get a few dozen bikers out who may get the attention of the press on a slow news day, and a Gallic shrug (if that) from the people we are trying to reach.  Let’s face it, the powers that be, when they think of us at all, consider us a minor nuisance to be taxed or otherwise harassed simply to go away. Or, if you’re in law enforcement looking for budget increases, then we’re a gang of murderous thugs out to rape and pillage and cast asunder civilization itself. But what we are not considered is a special interest group with immense economic and political clout due to our numbers. And that’s our own fault because we, as bikers, focus on our differences – tourers versus sports bikes, Harleys versus everything else, the hard core rider versus the weekend warrior, off-road versus street riders, the tee shirt versus the day-glo armoured outfit, the wavers versus the anti-wave crowd, etc. We seem unable to recognize that spurious, oppressive regulations that affect any of us affect all of us.
paris demo 2Well, in France they’ve got it together. When the French government tried to bring in legislation calling for all riders to purchase and wear high visibility fluorescent vests they protested. And how! They came out in the thousands, clogged streets and highways, and let the government know they could wield real power when riled up.
Check out the videos at:
Now that’s how to protest. And, as a result, it seems they may actually be being heard by the French government.

The UK is going through similar challenges with hi-viz vests, restricted access, etc. and protests are beginning there as well. I expect we’ll see large turnouts, but not like the  ones in France; after all, no one protests as well as the French.


  1. Very nice! It's great when everyone come together to fight for freedoms!


  2. Jared - Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment.

  3. there's no way in hell I'd stand for being forced to wear a high visibility vest over my leather.

    I'd take to the streets too

  4. No Name - I agree. perhaps that's exactly the kind of thing it will take to get us mobilized as a group.

  5. No matter what your own biking preferences, we have to stand together against stupid and ill thought out bike laws. Here is a video of a recent protest in the UK, with very relevant music....

  6. No matter what your own biking preferences, we have to stand together against stupid and ill thought out bike laws. Here is a video of a recent protest in the UK, with very relevant music....

  7. Gary - Good video. Thanks for sharing.

  8. Cananjun,

    The French have a knack for getting pissed off over things, they riot, strike, or just plain quit working over anything that bothers them. While I was there the Paris Metro system was on strike, there were so few cars operating (only the ones that reeked of stale piss, btw) you had to back into the car clutching your goodie bag and your wallet to make sure one or both didn't get in trouble. You were lucky if you were the one smashed into the glass, at least you could see something other than the inside of someone's ear.

    Unfortunately for the rest of us, if our government(s) tried this, they might pull it off without too much of a complaint. Hi-vis is fine, but it's your choice. Besides, I've heard there were some kind of financial problems going on that need a bit of attention these days.

    Behind Bars - Motorcycles and Life

  9. Brady - all very true. Unfortunately even with the very real and serious economic issues facing governments these days there are always those idle hands somewhere who seemingly have nothing better to do and can dedicate their resources to enacting stupid knee-jerk rules. In fact I'm convinced that many of them use the panicky headlines as a sort of smoke screen so they can do what they want without too much media or public oversight.

  10. I like to think that a sweeping change like this would bring us all together to fight it, but something in the back of my mind tells me otherwise...

  11. Giest - Sadly, I expect you're right.

  12. Dear Canajun:

    I have no idea how I missed this post, and beg your indulgence that I did.

    Now I personally think that helmets; high-viz, bullet-proof riding gear, and portable air-bag crash jackets are swell... As long as it is my choice to determine I need them. To this day, I usually do not wear a seat belt in the truck.

    As far as protests go, here in the US the general attitude is, "I'll gladly support the effort with lip service, as long as I don't really have to do anything."

    As you are aware, I ride a quiet bike... A really quiet bike. So I could give a damn for noise abatement laws. But you're right... A noise abatement law aimed at bikers is an injustice aimed at all of us.

    Fondest regards,
    Twisted Roads

  13. Jack - You nailed it with the "as long as I don't have to do anything". In other words a facebook protest is great, but actually show up somewhere in person?????
    And noise laws are classic. Those of us who ride stock muffled bikes aren't directly affected. Except for the fact that a law like that simply emboldens lawmakers to find something else to get their picture in the paper and be seen to be doing something useful come election time.


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