The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

February 28, 2013

Motorcycle light measure passes house

By Mannix Porterfield
Register-Herald Reporter

CHARLESTON — No one opposed Delegate Margaret Staggers’ motorcycle safety bill Wednesday, one that allows bikers to install auxiliary lights as a means of making them more visible at night.

No one inside the House chamber, that is.

Out in the rotunda, a leading motorcycle advocate, Ray Carey, registered opposition to HB2477, saying it is flawed since it limits riders to only two colors — white and amber.

“You can’t use any other colors,” said Carey, a 39-year veteran motorcyclist living in Point Pleasant.

“A lot of people have purple, green, red or blue. Most people don’t use them going down the road. They use them for display purposes to get a glow off the motor and chrome area.”

Carey is chairman of the West Virginia Confederation of Clubs and is a constant presence at the Capitol during legislative sessions, working in the past on failed attempts to liberalize the helmet law so that the use of such headgear would be optional.

“There’s nothing wrong with white or amber,” he said.

“But the bill just doesn’t include any other colors. So, it’s going to cost a lot for several businesses, specifically ones that do nothing but put those lights on the bikes.”

One firm he has in mind does nothing but install such lighting.

“He’s not going to sell enough of those two colors to keep him in business,” he said.

Carey said it appears the legislation was copied from other states.

“I think they’re misinformed about exactly what kind of lighting they’re doing,” he said.

“It’s not glow or pointing on the road. Some will blink on and off, but most don’t. It just kind of puts a glow on the motor area and the chrome area. That’s all they’re doing for display purposes. I think they’re misinformed on what they’re trying to accomplish here.”

Staggers, D-Fayette, who chairs the House Roads and Transportation Committee, said her intention was to make the highways safer for all, since some motorists might see a motorcycle headed toward them and confuse them with a vehicle minus one of its headlights.

Staggers said she ran the measure through her committee on behalf of Delegate John Overington, R-Berkeley, calling it a common sense-type bill.

The delegate pointed out that LED or regular lights to augment the motorcycles are permitted in other states, but riders are compelled to switch them off after crossing the West Virginia border.

— E-mail: mannix@register-herald.com