The beautiful dream of further harassing California bikers with biannual smog checks has died.
California State Senator Fran Pavley, introduced Senate Bill 435 in February. The Bill would require California motorcycles with an engine larger than 280 cubic centimeters and manufactured after the year 2000 to have their emissions checked. The bill was eagerly and unquestionably endorsed by many semi-famous and well intentioned people in Los Angeles. You know, like Ed Begley, Jr.
The Propaganda War
All Spring, bikers in the Golden State have had to listen to propaganda published by the California Air Resources Board (ARB) which supported the bill. The Board most famously stated that California “motorcycles account for 3.6% of registered vehicles in the state and make up just 0.8% of vehicle-miles traveled, yet account for 10% of passenger vehicles’ smog-forming emissions.”
The ARB also claimed that motorcycles are, “on average, 14 times more polluting per mile when it comes to emissions of oxides of nitrogen and hydrocarbons-smog forming pollutants that have been shown to trigger asthma attacks and worsen respiratory and cardiac illnesses.”
Actually, as a matter of pure fact, motorcycles are responsible for much less that one thousandth of the state’s air pollution. Eventually, the ARB conceded this fact but continued to push for the bill anyway.
“It is so difficult to find new sources of emissions reductions,” ARB Deputy Director Tom Cackette explained to the Los Angeles Times. “Particularly for Los Angeles. “Some people think motorcycles look small, and percentage-wise they are tiny, but so is everything else that’s available for emissions reductions.”
The Bill passed in the state Senate earlier this month. The vote was 22 for and 17 opposed and split along partisan lines. Democrats supported the bill and Republicans opposed it.
At the last minute, however, Senator Pavley had to substantially gut her bill in order to save it. Pavley changed the language in her new law to require stricter regulation of motorcycles whose owners have removed their catalytic converters. In California, that must be at least half of the people who own a Harley.
The Other Shoe
The current version of the Bill authorizes zealous cops to issue tickets to motorcyclists who have removed their catalytic converters. So, the passage of an amended version of Senate Bill 435 is a little less than a complete victory for California bikers.
The Bill must still be signed into law by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. Bikers who oppose this new law might want to drop Arnold a line. The Governor is an enthusiastic motorcyclist.