Bikers rumble into state capitol to lobby for motorcyclists' rights

Published: Apr. 10, 2017 at 6:06 PM CDT
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One hundred motorcyclists revved their engines in the state capitol plaza to remember the fallen and lobby lawmakers.

The often unseen bikers want more protection from careless motorists.

Bikers roll up each year looking for resolutions to problems they consider unjust. Above all else, they want to see stricter penalties for drivers that injure or kill bikers on the road.

"It's not just an accident. You're killing somebody that has a family. It may be the breadwinner of the family, it may be one of the kids," explained James "Doc" Reichenbach, President of ABATE's Silver Springs chapter.

As it stands now, motorists are often only issued traffic tickets for fatal accidents.

"What's a human life worth to you?'" asked Roy Steel, a member of ABATE's Naples Chapter. "It's hard to say, but at least more than, like, a $98 ticket."

To put a spotlight on the issue each year, the names of fallen bikers are read aloud on the old capitol steps. A bell is struck for each name called.

This year, 54 bikers were recognized.

According to a 2016 survey published by AAA, Florida leads the nation with the highest number of traffic fatalities involving motorcycles.

Along with stricter penalties, ABATE is also asking lawmakers to ramp up public information campaigns on motorcycle awareness.

"It's important to be aware, be aware of your surroundings, and let other people, motorists, know that we're out here and to be careful," said Steel.

Bikers say progress on their agenda has been slow, they believe their voices are being heard, but not soon enough for the 54 bikers who died this past year.

Neither of the two bills making bikers vulnerable road users has gotten a committee hearing, which means they are likely dead until next year.