Time was when Colorado had a functioning program to defray costs for new riders to learn good riding skills but apparently nothing and no one is safe when the legislature is in session.
I want to state right up front that this is not a journalistic report. I haven't spoken to people on all sides of the issue, I'm just passing along what one person told me. But that one person is about as close to the matter as anyone can be.
Colorado's Motorcycle Operator Safety Training program (MOST) was created after the state's helmet law was rescinded. ABATE of Colorado and several other organizations were afraid that if repeal of the helmet law led to a lot more deaths then we'd get slapped with another helmet law. They figured that the way to avoid that was to improve rider training and show that safe riding--not helmets-was the key to keeping riders alive.
The idea was for each motorcyclist to pay an extra one dollar--later raised to two dollars--with their plate renewal each year and for that money to be distributed to training organizations so they could offer their courses for less. The thinking, or course, being that a lower cost for training would mean more people choosing to get trained.
That worked fine for a long time but after awhile the oversight of the program was dropped and then it started running off in to the ditch, with some trainers using the money in ways not intended.
So MOST faced an existential challenge last year with some rider groups pushing to kill it and others pushing to reform it. The reformers won but then the bureaucrats got involved. By the time they got done, the revised program had morphed into something where very little money was going to rider training and much of it was going to motorcycle awareness programs. That's not a bad kind of program to have but it's not what the riders of Colorado are paying their fees for. Besides, drivers of cars and trucks don't pay extra to fund safe-driving programs aimed at them. That money comes out of general funds, from the taxes we all pay. Why should it be different for motorcyclists?
So ABATE and the supporters of the program went to work and tried to turn this around but to little avail. At one point, Terry Howard, state coordinator for ABATE and my source for this information, was starting to argue that it was time to kill the program. This not one year after she had been one of the toughest fighters to keep it alive.
Nothing is settled yet, but my latest update from Terry is that the fight is moving back to the legislature. Working with a Democratic senator and (hopefully) a Republican representative, the plan now is to get the law amended to mandate how the money raised by the program gets spent.
What happens next? We'll have to wait and see.
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