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SB 5544

The end of off-road motorcycling in the state - period?

Do you live in Washington? Have you got 10 minutes to support your right to ride? Great.

Above in the photo - a responsible group of dualsport riders enjoying a grand view of Mt. Rainier from high atop Pyramid pass on a Sunday in June of 2005.  Now a group of senators in Olympia want to terminate moments like this.

(What follows is unedited dialogue between Dave Helgeson and Senator Adam Kline)

Senator Kline,

I am curious to know why you would co-sponsor the most discriminatory,
anti-OHV Bill ever proposed?

SB 5544 changes would creating maximum sound levels for riding
near any residence, regardless of where that residence is located or how it
is zoned.  It would become illegal for my Family to ride our motorcylces and
quads where they are "plainly audible" from in or adjacent to any residence.  This would even include residences that are on farm land, forest land or in an
industrial area.

One of the few riding area riding areas where it is still legal to ride in
Western Washington is Captial State Forest near Olympia. There are a few
parcels of private property located within the forest. This law, if passed,
would effectively shut this area down. Ditto for the nearby Straddle Line
ORV park.

What really strikes me as absurd about this proposal is race tracks like
Evergreen Speedway in Monroe could host auto races of all types, but any off
road events would be illegal.

In addition, this law would only apply to my dirtbike or quad.  It would not apply to other, more common sources of residential noise such as lawnmowers, chainsaws, cars, trucks, boats, airplanes, stereos, playgrounds, ballfields, etc.  It is just plain discrimination against Off Highway Vehicle use and
has nothing to do with keeping neighborhoods quiet.

Off Highway Vehicle recreation is a fun and growing family sport, it would be nice to see sports that support families embraced by Olympia with more open riding areas, instead of discriminated against.

I would hope that you drop your support of this legislation.

Dave Helgeson

Dear Mr. Helgeson,

I signed on because I have been annoyed, endangered, and angered one too many times by people riding motorized dirt-bikes and other off-road vehicles that have no damn business anywhere. To me, this bill is narrow--it doesn't include those "personal watercraft," seemingly jet-powered little missiles whose only apparent purpose is to risk death and dismemberment for boaters and swimmers, for the amusement of spoiled drunk teenagers.

Yes, I am sure there is the occasional responsible person who rides one of these machines on land or water. And yes, like every human being I have been pleasantly surprized to find my stereotypes broken. But why, why, why, do folks insist on motorized "sports"? Those two words are an oxymoron. There is nothing sporting--athletic, physically demanding--about riding any machine anywhere. And it's a damned annoyance to folks who see the outdoors as a place to go for quiet and solitude and self-exploration. I would be happy to ban the use of the internal combustion engine off-road, by anyone without a handicapped sticker, subject to a stiff fine. Maybe we could call this an anti-obesity measure.

Please circulate this to all motorized sports enthusiasts, so they can remember never to vote for me.

Adam Kline

As per Senator Kline's last paragraph/request, please take a moment to email the link to this article to anyone you know that rides - on or off-road.

One of the most discriminatory and extremists bills ever against motorcyclists is making it’s way through Olympia which can effect anyone who rides a dualsport or off-road motorcycle. SB 5544 is crafted to eliminate access to roads on or near private land by off-highway vehicles that are "audible." Not audible with a 96 decibel sound level at 1 meter – simply "audible." Take a moment to click on the link and read ALL the way through the bill. It’s the re-writes at the end that are most telling.

If you enjoy riding your adventure dualsport motorcycle across forest service roads, enjoy spending time with your family riding the already limited trail systems through areas such as the Capitol State Forest, Tahuya and Green Mountain, your riding days may be coming to an end should a bill like this pass. If you enjoy participating in or watching motorcycle racing at the Evergreen State Fairgrounds, Pacific Raceways and other exhibit centers located near private property you should be advised that there are a number of representatives in Olympia who want to terminate your right to do so.

So what can you do to see this bill does not pass?

First and foremost you can contact your representative in Olympia encouraging them not to support such a discriminatory bill that has far wider implications than they probably could imagine. At the right is some dialogue between Dave Helgeson, an off-highway vehicle enthusiast and Senator Adam Kline. As you will note, Helgeson’s letter is respectful and pleads his case. Yours should as well. Senator Kline’s response is less than respectful back toward Dave, but Dave has made his point and that’s what we all must do.

In fact it’s rather obvious by Senator Kline’s response that he has spent little time on a motorcycle or participating in any powersports related activity. Statistics point out that if only 5% of the population does ride, than probably only 5% of the representatives in Olympia do. Remember this as you write.

I personally burn about 300 to 600 calories an hour on my dualsport running fire roads and single track trails. That’s about the same rate I burn when I hike, mountain bike, backpack or ride my trainer bike in the living room at home in the winter.

Senator Kline (pictured) authored the response to Dave Helgeson at the right.

Is motorcycling truly a sport? We all know the answer to that. But not according to Kline’s way of thinking. I see races on TV all the time, but I’d assume Senator Kline skips those programs.  One might assume sitting in an Indy car for 500 miles should not be construed a sport either.  After all - you're just sitting there - right?

One other rather obvious indicator in the senator's note is that he may have had a run in with a watercraft operator which is causing some bias for him against motorized recreation in general.

We as a majority have voted these people into office. Now we need to make it clear to them that this bill is simply discrimination. As Helgeson points out it only targets off-highway vehicles and not other sound-emitting devices.

If every reader of this magazine sends an email to their representative, the mail server in Olympia would flood with over 60,000 letters. Let’s do it and let them know we’re passionate about our right to ride and don’t take kindly to those who want to take that right away from us.

Here's the senator for my District, Senator Jacobsen.  As of this writing we was in favor of the bill as well.  I've emailed him my thoughts.  Time for you to do the same?

There will be a rally on the capitol steps in Olympia on March 9 at noon. And while that will surely present a show of force (you can attend as well) a personal letter from you to your representative will mean much more than standing in a crowd on the steps of the capitol and not contacting your representative.

While you’re at it, you might want to copy our Governor on your note as well. She works pretty well with motorcyclists in this state.

Tom Mehren/Winter 2007


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