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.
Well, 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: http://ukfrancebikers.com/2011/06/18/france-completely-paralysed-by-almost-100000-bikers/
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.