We witnessed big changes in motorcycling worldwide in 2013.
There were several steps forward for motorcycling, but one big major step backward, thanks to the Queensland Government’s draconian anti-association laws and “war” on bikies.
While the worldwide motorcycle market was slightly depressed in 2013 and slightly up in Australia, the Orwellian-sounding Vicious Lawless Associations Disestablishment Act (VLAD) gave motorcycling the biggest king hit.
Riders stayed home fearing harassment by a police force emboldened by hastily drawn and unjust laws, and the goading of their police commissioner to enforce the laws or quit the force.
Fears have grown in other states that the laws will spread, while word of the unjust laws have spread overseas. American readers of this website have been particularly upset by our lack of basic human rights.
The VLAD Act And associated unjust laws are bound to be thrown out in a pending and expensive High Court action, but the damage has already been done to motorcycling and other industries.
Australian Motorcycle Business Chamber founder Travis Windsor estimated the damage as something like $5m a week to the Queensland motorcycling industry, alone. Read my story here.
On top of that have been losses to the hospitality and tourism industries as riders stayed home in droves.
There have also been reports of a growing hostility by the public toward riders, resulting in road rage incidents and refusal to serve riders in pubs and service stations.
But there are now signs that resilient riders are returning to the highways and byways, that police have now learnt more discretion about pulling over riders and that the bike industry is bouncing back.
MotorbikeWriter.com has published several confirmed reports of riders being hassled, refused service, a funeral cortège being harassed and riders pulled over multiple times. Go to the search box at the top right of the page and search for VLAD and check out some of the stories.
However, in recent weeks, I have chased up reports that have turned out to be Facebook myths, such as the 300 riders on a toy run who were prevented from delivering toys to needy children. No eyewitnesses and no first-hand accounts have been found. It simply didn’t happen.
Facebook sites set up to report incidents of harassment have dried up as riders return to the roads without being hassled.
Hopefully the pent-up demand for motorcycles and gear over the past few months of non-riding has resulted in a pre-Christmas sales boom.
It has already had a couple of good repercussions with the formation of the Australian Motorcyclist Party and the opening of lines of communication with the State Government.
Riders need to apply pressure put the guilt-trip on government and demand, in return, compensation in the form of no tolls, lower registrations, more free parking and other concessions.
Hopefully that will mean good news in 2014 for riders.
Tomorrow I will look at the good news for motorcycling in 2013 and the trends in new motorcycles, customising and riders themselves.