Sunday, January 30, 2011

Angry Reader Feedback to "A Motorcycle Friendly Nevada?" Article

My article, A Motorcycle Friendly Nevada, received national blogosphere attention.  For the most part, the article was well-received.  However, one Nevada reader took exception and wrote a letter to the editor demanding an apology from me.  The editor intended to publish that reader's letter along with my response to it.  Neither the letter nor my response were published on the insistence of the author of that letter.  That reader told my editor, It’s up to you if you want to become the enemy of Nevada State motorcycle safety programs but I wouldn’t publish this.

Here is that unedited, unpublished letter to the editor.....
Dear Quick Throttle Magazine,
After reading “A Motorcycle-Friendly Nevada?” in the October 2010 issues of Quick Throttle I can’t help but feel angry concerning what amounts to unqualified assumptions about the Nevada Rider Motorcycle Training Program. Although you do not have a letters to the editor section I feel that it is important to provide a rebuttal in support of an organization that I have the greatest respect for.
The first issue that I have a problem with is the suggestion that the funds provided by the motorcycle riders of the state in registration fees are being squandered. Nothing is farther from the truth; Nevada Rider not only conducts their own rural training program with mobile training facilities that are on the move every week, they subsidize the community colleges of the state for each student enrolled, train new rider coaches, conduct rider coach updates yearly, produce motorcycle safety advertisements, conduct seminars for the public, and belong to the States Motorcycle Safety Administration (SMSA). All of these activities require fuel, manpower, maintenance and repair on vehicles, maintenance and repair on ranges, administrative expenses, travel, time, lodging, meals and wages. This doesn’t even address the personal commitment of we involved with the program to make the right people be in the right places on the right days with the right equipment. Nobody is getting rich at Nevada Rider.
Next, it seems that the person whose alias is Tigerlily doesn’t like paying the $6 surcharge to register her bike. I wonder if she actually has a bike to register. She apparently doesn’t know that this was the last productive thing that ABATE has done in Nevada. It was ABATE that pushed for a dedicated motorcycle training fund and a state motorcycle training program. If Quick Throttle or ABATE wants to sponsor motorcycle awareness training for all drivers I think it’s a good idea so get off of your backsides and do something about it. Don’t go publishing full page pieces slamming the folks that are out there in the rain, snow and blistering heat trying to make a positive impact on our riding community.
Next, the situation where $126,000 was taken from the motorcycle training fund was definitely not voluntary and Nevada Rider resisted this to their legal limits. Ken Kiphart was trying to organize people to call their representatives to stop this action, Quick Throttle sure could have helped get the word out but it seemed nobody was interested at the time. Nevada is not the first state that this has happened to. If the staff of Quick Throttle are against this kind of robbing funds from Motorcycle Training Programs you should be speaking up on behalf of organizations like Nevada Rider to keep this money where it belongs not suggesting that there is mismanagement with no proof to back it up. We in the training community had to do without a lot of services this year and reached into our own pockets many times without asking for reimbursement.
“There appears to be no attempt to evaluate the effectiveness of this Program compared to private sector training options.”  Private training sites teach the same curriculum as Nevada Rider which is published by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) in Irvine California, even the Riders Edge course is based on this curriculum with Harley specific additional content. There is nothing to stop private motorcycle training in Nevada. Harley Davidson offers the Riders Edge course at close to $300 a seat and other small training facilities like the one run by Vic “Doc” Moss are out there struggling to keep the doors open too. However since Nevada Rider subsidizes the state run colleges, a seat only costs the student $100 making it well within the means of the common person, thereby reaching many more prospective riders. Good luck to the private facilities but I also I think this is a prudent use of state funds.
“A representative of this program testified against the repeal of the helmet law in the last legislative session.”  Which program? Once again the person whose alias is Tigerlily got her facts wrong. There was NO representative of Nevada Rider that testified. As instructors we may not represent Nevada Rider or Motorcycle Safety Foundation in any public forum without express permission. We MAY represent our personal views and that was what the instructor that testified was doing. That is what I am doing right now, I am expressing my personal views and I do not represent Nevada Rider.
“The Program is undermining motorcycle tourism in the State of Nevada.” Which program is the person whose alias is Tigerlily referring to? The warning signs addressing helmet use and lane splitting during Street Vibrations are the brainchild of the Nevada Highway Patrol, not the Motorcycle Safety Advisory Board.  Nevada Rider has a representative on the board but so does the Motorcycle Dealers Association and it’s ludicrous to suggest that the dealers would undermine motorcycle tourism.
“The Program is an extra layer of bureaucracy to stonewall motorcyclists seeking justice for violations of citizens’ rights.” Once again I ask; which program are you referring to and how do you qualify this statement? The person whose alias is Tigerlily goes on to rant about what is a legal helmet and law enforcement, however, that is a completely different subject that Nevada Rider does not even address. Nevada Rider conducts curriculum published by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation in Irvine California. The curriculum encourages people to wear good safety helmets which I feel is a responsible decision. MSF and Nevada Rider is very careful not to get involved with political discussions or assertions about how law enforcement entities should act.
In the final paragraphs of the article the person whose alias is Tigerlily makes another broad statement about “the Motorcycle Safety Bureaucracy” and then encourages the reader to vote in the November election for the candidates that she endorses because it’s “time to clean house”. I suggest that the person whose alias is Tigerlily doesn’t know apples from oranges and no one should take what she says as good informed advice. In addition to her judgment, her behavior should be questioned; at the August meeting of the Motorcycle Safety Advisory Board she made quite a scene arguing with board members and demanding answers. Apparently she was not satisfied so she wrote this smear piece about Nevada Rider.
How do I know all this? I have been a motorcycle safety instructor and rider coach for 20 years and have been teaching in Nevada since 2000 I personally know everyone the person whose alias is Tigerlily has referred to including the person who testified at the legislature and the rider who asked the question at the advisory board meeting. I don’t always agree with them but I have a great admiration for my peers in the motorcycle training community. Once again, I do not represent anyone other than myself.
The person whose alias is Tigerlily as well as Quick Throttle owes an apology to Nevada Rider. Next time do some facts checking before you publish an anonymous tabloid piece like that one. You should be glad that we have an organization that year after year works tirelessly and thanklessly to train new riders and make highways safer for motorcyclists.
(Identity withheld by TigerLily)

My reply to this letter:

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