is a welfare rider?
(This article appeared in the January 2005 issue of Southern Motorcycle Times Magazine)
A welfare rider is a motorcycle rider who benefits from the work that other rider organizations do, but the rider does not contribute to the fight for bikers rights. They either don't know about motorcyclists rights organizations (MROs), and the work that MRO members are doing on their behalf, or they just don't care. This article is being written for the positive people who have never heard of MROs until now.
ALL riders start out as welfare riders. This is not a put-down or insult. The reason we were all welfare riders was because we just didn't know about MROs and didn't know anyone who were members. In North Carolina, we have 200,000 riders. Approximately 2000 riders belong to our state MRO (SMRO). That means approximately 1% of NC riders are doing the work for the other 99%. There are 2000 dedicated people doing the work, and there are 198,000 riders who are what we call welfare riders. In their defense, many of them just don't know that there are riders working on their behalf. If you are not an MRO member, reading this article is your wake up call.
Please consider joining your local STATE MRO and a FEDERAL MRO. The Concerned Bikers Association (CBA www.cba-abatenc.org) is the state MRO here in North Carolina and the Motorcycle Riders Foundation (www.MRF.org) is the most effective federal MRO. If you join, you will not be required to do ANYTHING. If you just join, they will have your membership money and they will use it to fight for your rights on your behalf. They will send you newsletters that will keep you up to date on what is happening in your state and at the federal level. Most SMRO chapters have monthly meetings, fun rides, bike nights, and charity events. Participation in these activities is optional. At the very least, joining will increase your riding opportunities and expand your circle of riding friends.
The Motorcycle Riders Foundation (MRF) is the most important federal (national) MRO in America. They have an office and full-time lobbyist in Washington, DC and they have been fighting for our rights in our nation's capitol for over twenty years. There are approximately 7 million motorcycle owners in this country and only about 4000 MRF members. 4000 riders to the work for the other 6.996 million riders. Is that fair? If you are not an MRF member, please consider joining now. Joining the MRF costs $30 per year. Again, that is all you will have to do. However, just joining is the most important thing you can do. That will enable the MRF to be able to say: "We represent 4001 American motorcyclists." It will also give the MRF more clout when lobbying on our behalf.
As you can see, spending $55 per year will enable you to support bikers rights at the state level (SMRO = $25) and the federal level (MRF = $30). As I said earlier, we are all welfare riders when we start. I am thankful that there was a local SMRO chapter near my house that welcomed me in and taught me about important motorcycling issues. Once you learn about some of the problems that face motorcyclists, you will want to help correct these problems.
Being a former welfare rider is not something I am very proud of. Please don't wait too long to get involved and spend the fifty-five bucks! You will not be sorry.