Up and Smell the Discrimination
The above picture was taken at the entrance to a parking garage in South Carolina on Sunday, October 30, 2005. I was in the beautiful city of Charleston to attend the historic first annual Southern Cross Conference (SCC) The SCC is a networking and educational summit for southern motorcyclists'.
While enjoying the living history of Charleston's historic district, I decided to stop and park so I could walk around and enjoy the local sites. The first parking garage I found had the above sign hanging in the entrance. The rudeness of this discriminatory sign reminded me of why I was in Charleston in the first place. I traveled there to attend the SCC, learn more about lobbying techniques, and to meet like-minded riders who work to shape the future of motorcycling in the southern United States.
Just over one percent of the riders in the Carolinas' belong to motorcyclists' rights organizations (MROs). Those members do all the work for the other 99% of riders. Joining a MRO is how it all starts. Once you join and attend a meeting or two, you start to learn about the issues facing bikers. It's not just the discrimination. It's not just about being refused a parking space. It's about the overall tendency of our legislatures to make our riding more restrictive and to strip our freedoms away from us one-by-one. Little by little, they chip away at our liberties. They usually don't make very big changes, just small little chips. They do it little-by-little so the average rider doesn't even notice it. Every year, we have less freedoms as bikers. Every year, there are more regulatory agencies forcing their "rules" down our throats. A "rule" is a law make by unelected agency employees who can't be voted out of office. (Example: EPA, NHTSA, etc).
I know what you are thinking ..... "This political stuff doesn't concern me. I just wanna ride around and look cool doing it." Well, that reminds me of a quote I heard recently....... "Just because you do not take an interest in politics, doesn't mean politics won't take an interest in you." That statement couldn't be more true where bikers are concerned. If you are not involved with MROs and the political process, then you don't know what you don't know. You don't know what laws threaten your enjoyment of motorcycling because they are being introduced in your state house, they are being voted on by your legislators, and they are being passed without your knowledge, input, or consent.
Don't be a Monday morning quarterback. Don't be a complainer after the laws are passed. Get involved now and help to preserve the riding freedoms we still have left. Help to take back the freedoms we have lost. And help to give our children the ability to park where they like, ride what they like, and have the ability to customize their own motorcycles. These basic freedoms of riding are being stripped from us all NOW.
I did call the proprietor of that parking garage and they told me a story about the exit gate hitting a biker on the head while he was leaving and that is why they outlawed motorcycles. I explained that I understood and appreciated their concerns for our safety. Then I asked them: "Where will bikers park if all parking garages outlawed motorcycles?" I respectfully asked them to look into a motion detector that will detect motorcycles as well as cars when a vehicle drives past the gate. That would enable them to reap additional revenue from bikers and still keep bikers safe while riding past the exit gate. I was told they will look into that. Not sure if they will act on it, but I will be calling them again to monitor their progress.
The point here is that it is easier to outlaw motorcycles than it is to work with them. If only one percent of bikers are willing to join MROs and stand up for themselves, motorcycles will continue to be banned and motorcyclists' will continue to lose our freedoms; ..... one at a time, ..... year after year.