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HB 1926: Safety Instructor Gear Requirements

Apparel manufacturers lobby Olympia

Who are the gear Nazis now? The National Motorcycle Apparel Coalition (NMAC) has fired a rocket into the Washington State Legislature by authoring and introducing HB 1926, titled the Safety Instructor Gear Requirements bill.

HB 1926 would essentially require all Motorcycle Safety Instructors to teach all field training exercises wearing full gear to impress upon students the need to be geared up and to tear down the myth that protective motorcycle apparel is uncomfortable. The policy would not only apply to the instructor providing the demo on the range, but any other instructors providing training at the site. A protective jacket with CE rated armor, along with over-the-ankle boots would be required for each. Only the instructor providing a demo would be required to wear gloves and a full face modular helmet, which would allow the demo provider to communicate with others more easily than a full face helmet.

Above: John Chrison with Elbe Motorcycle Safety Training demonstrates the newly required gear for instructors.

Joe Gericke, current president of NMAC put it this way - "Allowing instructors to teach in blue jeans and a half shell helmet does not impress the importance of full gear on students. When all there is between you and the road is the gear you wear, that concept has to be enforced throughout the entire training process."

A section disallowing any type of blue jeans being worn by students was removed from the bill as it passed from the senate to the house earlier in March. "While it's a great bill, it was a bit harsh when it came to student wardrobe for a field class," said Carl Map from the Quilcene Motorcycle Instruction School.

If the bill is passed, the requirements would become effective within 60 days, allowing enough time for instructors to purchase gear, or arrange to have it provided to them from the contractor they are working for. "I already have the necessary gear," said Hein Goldfine, who teaches at the Glenwood Motorcycle Riding Center in Klickitat County. "The only thing I might add is an evaporative cooling vest for hot days."

"This could be a real boon for our store," notes Clem Wicken, who owns Anatone Harley-Davidson near Clarkston. "The days of selling a customer a stage three set of pipes as an add-on during the initial sale are long gone, but the idea of selling them a full set of riding gear will put more money in our register and more profits into our pockets. It's a win-win scenario for everyone because knowing my customer is better protected while enjoying a ride gives them a better chance of surviving a crash. I get to keep my return customer instead of losing them to a head injury."

Wicken's words were applauded by the entire room during a recent meeting of the Northwest Harley-Davidson Dealers Association held at the Slate Peak Ski Resort and Spa this past winter.

NMAC and retailers would obviously stand to profit handsomely from the bill if the tactic works. "Taking the under-dressed factor away from field training can only benefit the new riders and the other businesses involved," said Gericke.

One group opposing the bill is the Washington chapter of American Bikers For Freedom. Certain individuals inside the organization believe the strategy is a manipulative tactic designed to increase corporate profits. ABFF chairmen, Joe Levi, who owns a western wear store in Omak that caters to bikers, is more than unhappy. "I've already purchased my year's supply of leather vests and chaps and this is going to put a serious dent in my profits. Somebody is going to lose here and I hope it's not me."

The bill is scheduled for final debate on April 31st at 9 am in Olympia.

To read the bill in its entirety, CLICK HERE, then let us know what you think.

TK/Spring 11


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