On Monday, April 12, several hundred of California’s most hardy and politically involved bikers braved the rain, wind, and cold by showing up on the steps of the Capitol building in Sacramento for ABATE of California’s annual Freedom Rally.
In spite of the miserable weather, there was an incredible turnout of motorcycle riders many of whom made the long trek to Sacramento from Southern California to be present at this event held annually to demonstrate not only their commitment to the guiding concepts of freedom which form the basis for the American way of life but also to spend a little time visiting their legislators. The primary topic of discussion this year was SB-435, the motorcycle smog check bill which is adamantly opposed by ABATE of California. While the demographics of the crowd were diverse in a variety of ways with many independents in attendance, it was evident that a majority of those present were club members, with over 25 different clubs represented at the Freedom Rally, with all present voicing their opposition to SB-435. Thanks to the COC for getting the word out to their members and helping to make this event a success. ABATE of California’s Legislative Director Jim Lombardo arranged for Assemblyman Martin Garrick and Senator Denise Ducheny as featured speakers, along with as Assemblywoman Jean Fuller’s Legislative Assistant Madeline Hoe and candidate Jack Sieglock who hopes to capture the assembly seat for the Lodi area. All of these individuals are motorcycle friendly and have been extremely supportive of motorcycle rights in California. While there are many motorcycle events held throughout the year in California, the Freedom Rally which never fails to impress even the most jaded political pundits in the capitol. This event is all about bikers wearing leather and Levis walking the halls of the capitol for the express purpose of letting the legislature know that the motorcycling community remains stalwart in our unwavering commitment to see our freedoms and civil liberties restored and to bring an end to micro-management of our lives by the government. While the turnout at this year’s Freedom Rally was as large as some years when the weather was good, it is unfortunate that some of the larger riding organizations were conspicuously absent. It is unfortunate because there is proposed legislation in the works that will affect each and every rider in this state unless it is stopped. SB-435 is one of those pieces of "gateway" legislation that can and will lead to increased restrictions on motorcycle emissions and exhaust equipment. Passage of this bill will severely impact a rider’s ability to make any modifications to increase performance and economy, as well as leading us down the path to legislation imposing stricter noise restriction, and provide law enforcement with another spurious reason to enact traffic stops when no other good reason exists. There are approximately a million registered motorcycles in California who enjoy riding on the state’s system of roadways but it is unfortunate that the vast majority of these riders leave it to a small number of riders to fight for the freedoms they enjoy. It is time for the rest of the California’s riders to stand up and be counted before the state’s riders are counted out and forced into riding horsepower limited, whisperized sewing machines. For those of you who get it and who cared enough about the future of motorcycling in California to show up at this year’s Freedom Rally,