Motorcycles have steadily gained popularity over the last 40 years. As of 2011, over 8.4 million bikes were registered in the United States. This translates to almost 1 out of every 36 people owning a motorcycle. Across the country, members of many state motorcycle rights organizations like ABATE have worked to enact legislation that protects motorcyclists across the country. One of the benefits of their endeavors was naming May, Motorcycle Awareness Month. In Georgia, Jinesa Faircloth and other members of ABATE of Georgia’s District 7 have reached several milestones in this area over the past month.
What Is ABATE?
ABATE, also known as American Bikers Active Toward Education, was established in 1972 with the help of Lou Kimzey of EasyRider Magazine. 32 states have ABATE chapters. ABATE organizations use several different acronyms and each district is considered to be its own non-profit entity. ABATE of Georgia has 15 districts, all of which work together to bring about legislation that supports motorcyclists and their passion for the open road. In April of this year, District 7 of ABATE of Georgia participated in a Proclamation Ride to raise awareness for motorcycles throughout the state. The ride visited 5 cities in central Georgia. At each location, the group was presented with a Proclamation by the mayor proclaiming May as Motorcycle Awareness Month.
Motorcycle Awareness Month
In 2017 alone, over 5000 motorcyclists lost their lives on American highways. Over the last six weeks, numerous motorcycle accidents have occurred in Georgia alone, many of which had fatalities. This is why Jinesa Faircloth, Wayne Overholt, Howard Brown, and so many other ABATE members took to the street on April 24th. Jinesa’s efforts eventually culminated in Georgia Governor, Brian Kemp making a proclamation as well. Those who named May Motorcycle Awareness Month, include the following cities:
- Mayor Mary Parham-Cope, Milledgeville, GA
- Mayor Robert Reichert, Macon, GA
- Mayor Randy Toms, Warner Robbins, GA
- Mayor Tracy Jackson, Danville, GA
- Mayor Charles Williams, Jeffersonville, GA
- Governor Brian Kemp, April 29th, 2019 State Proclamation (This is a statewide proclamation.)
The riders traveled to each city to receive the individual proclamations. Jinesa commented, “This is a big win for us, especially District 7. It will help to raise awareness and maybe even bring in more new ABATE members.”
Look Twice, Save a Life
Look Twice, Save a Life is more than just a slogan. These riders have families. They are fathers, mothers, children, grandchildren, sisters, and brothers. They are doctors, lawyers, laborers, just your everyday person. They ride for wind therapy and to feel a sense of freedom you can’t get riding in an enclosed vehicle. ABATE, as well as other state motorcycle rights organizations, is to raise awareness and bring certain things to the public that may not normally be considered hazardous. In addition to the helmet law and keeping mown grass off the roadways, the group is also trying to get legislation put through that would make stiffer penalties mandatory for car owners who are the direct cause of a motorcycle fatality. As it stands now if a person hits a motorcycle and kills the rider they face virtually no jail time and only a small fine and traffic citation. ABATE is working hard to change this. Every accident is different and the punishment received will depend on the situation.
Working for the Good of All Riders
ABATE does not only represent its members. It represents every motorcycle owner. Howard Brown said, “ABATE is not a club. It’s not a gang. It’s a legislative organization. I explain it like this, ABATE is to motorcycles like the NRA is to guns. They go to the capital and fight for the things to help bikers. Just like this Motorcycle Awareness campaign. We want people to see us on the road, We want to let people know we’re out there. Every month, we’re burying friends.”
Everyone in the group agrees that you can’t blame it all on the drivers of the cars. There are motorcyclists out there who take unnecessary and dangerous risks that put both themselves and others in danger. The majority of riders, however, are well aware of the rules of the road and make it a point to follow them. They have taken courses to prove they have the ability to handle their bike in a safe manner. Most motorcycles on the road do everything within their power to ride safely. They all want to return home to their families and loved ones.
Next time you take to the highway, be aware. Look twice. Listen for those pipes and above all remember that every biker out there has a story. Take the time to learn it. You may be surprised that many are veterans. They may be a teacher or doctor. Look twice and save a life….everyone out there has someone who loves them.
As of the writing of this article four more proclamations were made. They are:
4/28 Chatham County, David “Junkyard” Jackson od District 11, received the proclamation from the Chatham County Commissioner
5/13 Woodstock received by Wayne Nunez, District 3
5/14 Fayette County received by Ed “Yankee” Andross District 6/6-2
5/14 Fayetteville received by Ed Yankee Andross District 6/6-2
The ABATE Mission Statement
“ABATE of Georgia’s mission is to preserve the freedom of the road by protecting the rights of all motorcycle riders through fair and reasonable legislation, education and public awareness.”