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Jun-10-2012 03:52printcommentsVideo

Motorcycle Awareness Rallies Hundreds of Bikers at Oregon Capitol

"There are people from all walks of life here, that just chose motorcycles as their primary method of transportation" ~ Quiet Mike

Oregon Bikers
Motorcycle riders across Oregon came to the state Capitol to stand in unison for their rights.
Photos by Bonnie King

(SALEM, Ore.) - Hundreds of motorcycles made their way across the state of Oregon, up the freeway, through the mountains and into the capitol city, Salem, the first Saturday of May for the biggest "Motorcycle Awareness" event to date. Salem residents enjoyed the rumbling parades of bikes as they converged in front of the Capitol building and joined in the celebration.

The opening of riding season in Oregon is kicked off by recognizing Motorcycle Awareness Month. May 1 is the federally recognized day, but Oregonians celebrate all month long promoting safety on the roads. Oregonians love riding motorcycles.

Bikers and motorcycle enthusiasts enjoyed live foot-tapping music, a bike show and competition, as well as bringing fellow motorcyclists up to date on upcoming bills and laws that have been enacted. They do this every year, and the public is enthusiastically invited.

The motorcycle is a chosen mode of transportation for many, and is especially appealing as the price of gasoline continues to climb. They are also great recreational machines, from dirt bikes to racing bikes and the myriad of uses in between, motorcycles are a solid part of the American lifestyle.

The annual event was an opportunity to get to know local bikers and develop camaraderie with like-minded people. More importantly, it was a reminder that biker awareness is something every driver should practice every time they get behind the wheel of their car. For many however, the only time they consider someone on two wheels is, well, never. Cars and motorcycles share the road, but not always with grace. Some drivers might complain that bikes are hard to see, which is more true in some cases than others, however, they are much more difficult to see when you’re not looking.

Bikers Have a Long-Standing Place in American History

Motorcycles have always been a special topic of interest for people that appreciate mechanics, physics, the evolution of transportation and/or the indescribable feeling of wind in their face, though some prefer their hair on fire. Metaphorically, of course.

Motorcycles first came to be around 1850, but it took until 1894 before the first motorcycle was sold, and it wasn’t actually called a “motor cycle” until so dubbed by an American inventor in 1895. That’s when things really started taking off.

In 1901, Royal Enfield introduced its first motorcycle with a 239 cc engine mounted in the front and driving the rear wheel through a belt. Also in 1901, the Indian Motorcycle Manufacturing Company designed the "diamond framed" Indian Single.

By 1902, Triumph had produced its first motorcycle—a bicycle fitted with a Belgian-built engine. In 1903, as Triumph's motorcycle sales topped 500, the American company Harley-Davidson started producing motorcycles.

Chief August Vollmer of the Berkeley, California Police Department is credited with organizing the first official police motorcycle patrol in the United States in 1911, the very first “biker club”. Indeed, they were the first bikers to wear colors.

Indivisible, with Liberty and Justice for All

The Pledge of Allegiance started off the event followed by a bevy of “hooah!” and “oorah!” yells from the many Veterans in the group.

“We want to let everyone know we're working for them, in the capitol, to protect their rights, and protect their liberties,” said Nic Oliver of BikePAC Oregon. "Every day of the week, I get online and check on what they're doing in the House and the Senate here, just to make sure they don't pull any fast ones."

Several officials spoke at noon addressing issues specifically pertaining to motorcycles and motorcyclists on the front steps of the Oregon State Capitol building. Protecting the basic freedoms that bikers enjoy is not an easy task. There are bills being proposed, laws being interpreted, opinions being formed- and often not in the best interest of motorcycle drivers.

"We believe it's getting worse," added Quiet Mike. "The governor’s advisory committee on motorcycle safety is recommending a 0.0 (zero-zero) blood alcohol standard of impairment for motorcycle operators." Whereas, the blood alcohol level for all other adults of age in Oregon will continue to be 0.08%; without question, a clear case of attempted inequality. This is why sharing information is so important. There is strength in standing together.

"Federal, State and local police have a financial and self-preservation interest by creating and maintaining the false claim that motorcycle clubs are criminal organizations engaged in war with one another," said Christian Bottoms, attorney and member of the Outsiders Motorcycle Club.

"The truth is that motorcyclists want, above all, freedom. And motorcycle clubs, above all, seek brotherhood." "The federal government has decided to call us ‘gangs’. I don't know who makes these decisions, but the only people that I feel can call me an outlaw motorcycle club is the AMA, and that's because we don't belong to them," commented Quiet Mike.

"Today our freedoms and our brotherhood are at risk," said Bottoms. "We are stopped and harassed without probable cause. We are secretly filmed and monitored even at such private events as our funerals. We are discriminated against in the court system. We are targeted and threatened by law enforcement; our employers are threatened and intimidated and harassed by law enforcement."

This is quite dismaying for a great many law-abiding citizens that simply ride a motorcycle. Maybe they belong to a motorcycle club or another group that rides together; that does not reduce their respectability, or lessen their value as contributors to their community.

Veterans Find Peace on Two Wheels

For the majority of American war veterans, coming home is a difficult transition. Luckily, back in the 40’s after WWII, many were able to fill the void they were experiencing with the freedom of a motorcycle. Riding with their friends, which evolved into organized clubs, gave them the camaraderie, and excitement that they were missing. PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) was not known as it is today, and Veterans were expected to heal themselves, quietly and without a fuss. Thank goodness some of them had motorcycles.


The clubs became a new U.S. homegrown institution, and “bikers” were born. The outlaw persona was created in Hollywood when Marlo Brando starred in the 1954 film The Wild One, loosely based on a true but sensationalized event in Hollister, California. It was following that event that the 1% designation emerged (see also: American Motorcycle Culture: The One Percenters ).

Veterans need the same support and promotion of healthy activities today that they yearned for all those years ago.

"Many of our members have served in the military for this country. They are talented workers and professionals, and provide our communities with many righteous and charitable acts and deeds. Yet, we are discriminated against and profiled unconstitutionally," Bottoms said.

"There is absolutely no reason why anybody in any state should be profiling any particular group, and that certainly includes motorcyclists," said Ron Fryer of Oregon A.B.A.T.E.

"Unfortunately there is a contingency especially in political groups that believe that motorcyclists are all gangs and criminals, and the fact is, that we're not. There is a bigger percentage of criminals in automobile drivers than there are in motorcycle drivers."

Fight for Your Rights and Keep Riding Free

"We are denied our Fourth Amendment right to protect us from unlawful search and seizure, and denied our First Amendment right of freedom of speech, association and expression," Bottoms said.

"We can and we should fight for our rights in Oregon. Work together, and help enact anti-profiling legislation as our brothers have done in Washington."

Ron Fryer explained what was done effectively in Washington to bring about change, "The most successful tact that we've used in Washington is for A.B.A.T.E. members, in fact all motorcyclists, to get to know their Representatives both in the House and in the Senate. Find out what which ones support motorcycle rights, and support those Representatives and Senators."

“The chess pieces are on the board in November!” exclaimed one of the speakers. “I commend the groups that keep their eye on the ball for you. Next year I hope we're not making a new patch that says 'In Memory of: Freedom', or, instead of 'I Rode Mine' it will say, 'I Lost Mine'.“ was among an honored few to receive special recognition by BikePAC of Oregon with a framed certificate, “for all you have done in support of motorcycle riders and motorcycle rights“. We were surprised, and humbled by the acknowledgment atop the capitol steps. "We will do everything we can to help stop discrimination," said Tim King, executive news editor for Salem-News.

"Keep us in the loop, and we will make sure your stories are told, honestly."

As the club members and other motorcyclists gathered on the steps of the capitol for a final group photo, they were reminded, “This is what it's all about, the brotherhood. All of us standing together to let them know inside this building here that when they're in session, that we're to be taken seriously,” said spokesman Milkman.

Closing with a prayer, the group asked for “blessings upon any and all motorcycle rights organizations that support our rights to ride freely in these United States. May we work well together, because together we can accomplish great things.” And in no time the bikes roared down the road, together, in agreement.

These guys all loved motorcycles. Clockwise from 11 o’clock: Charles Lindbergh rode a twin-cylinder 1920 model Excelsior “X” motorcycle; Buddy Holly and the Crickets rode Triumphs; Marlon Brando rode a 1950 Triumph 6T Thunderbird in The Wild One; James Dean rode an Indian Warrior TT, and his last bike was a Triumph TR5 Trophy; Clint Eastwood rode a Triumph Bonneville in Coogan’s Bluff; Clark Gable came home from WWII and took off with his friends on a 1934 Harley Davidson RL; T.E. Lawrence (“Lawrence of Arabia”) was a devotee of the Brough Superior, he owned seven; Steve McQueen raced the Triumph TR6 many times, from the Baja 1000 to the International Six Days Trial.


Sources contributed to this report: (Famous Men and Their Motorcycles); Wikipedia.

Bonnie King has been with since August '04, when she became Publisher. Bonnie has served in a number of positions in the broadcast industry; TV Production Manager at KVWB (Las Vegas WB) and Producer/Director for the TV series "Hot Wheels in Las Vegas", posts as TV Promotion Director for KYMA (NBC), and KFBT (Ind.), Asst. Marketing Director (SUPERSHOPPER MAGAZINE), Director/Co-Host (Coast Entertainment Show), Radio Promotion Director (KBCH/KCRF), and Newspapers In Education/Circulation Sales Manager (STATESMAN JOURNAL NEWSPAPER). Bonnie has a depth of understanding that reaches further than just behind the scenes, and that thoroughness is demonstrated in the perseverance to correctly present each story with the wit and wisdom necessary to compel and captivate viewers.

View articles written by Bonnie King


Comments Leave a comment on this story.

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Kat MMMC AZ June 12, 2012 9:46 am (Pacific time)

WOW! How proud I am to see such a positive, well written, articulate and factually based story regarding the motorcycle community. These are far and few between. I saved and printed this out to share with others in the hopes we can change the personna and image of my community. Great job Bonnie and Salem-News.Com. I appreciate and respect what you have done here. Thanx MLandR Kat President MMMC AZ.

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Sean Flynn was a photojournalist in Vietnam, taken captive in 1970 in Cambodia and never seen again.