Bikers kick Rauner to curb

State motorcycle group withdraws endorsement over governor’s support for self-driving cars

Bruce Rauner arrives for Governor’s Day at the State Fair this summer on his Harley. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

Bruce Rauner arrives for Governor’s Day at the State Fair this summer on his Harley. (One Illinois/Ted Cox)

By Ted Cox

A leading state motorcycle group has withdrawn its endorsement of Gov. Rauner over his support for self-driving cars.

ABATE of Illinois Political Action Committee announced the move Monday on its Facebook page. Chairman Mike Fisher issued a statement saying the group “is disappointed in Gov. Rauner signing an executive order opening Illinois roads to autonomous vehicles with no safeguards.” He said, “It has been our policy when working with elected officials on issues to hear what they say, but see what they do,” and in this case “we believe that the governor's actions are a serious departure from discussions and intentions communicated to our committee, and represent a danger to the lives of motorcyclists on Illinois roadways.”

The group’s resistance to self-driving cars or “autonomous vehicles” has been consistent. On ABATE of Illinois’s website for legislative issues, it cites opposition to House Bill 2747 in the General Assembly over the self-driving cars’ detection systems. It points out that “most AV systems use Lidar, which has documented problems seeing stationary and smaller objects,” and cites a handful of instances where self-driving cars struck motorcycles or, in one case, a stationary fire truck at 65 mph.

It also points out that the legislation has a loophole for owners of self-driving cars, as it “assigns liability to the company under product liability acts instead of vehicle insurance standards. A motorcyclist hit by one of these machines would face years of court and massive legal fees before receiving a settlement for injuries caused by this technology.”

Last week, Rauner and his Illinois Department of Transportation announced they’d move forward with testing of the self-driving cars, with Rauner issuing an executive order placing IDOT in charge of the test program.

“For these reasons ABATE of Illinois PAC is removing our endorsement from Governor Rauner’s re-election campaign,” Fisher said. “ABATE is an independent organization representing motorcyclists in Illinois, and we hope that by removing this endorsement other elected officials realize how seriously we take the issue of autonomous vehicles on Illinois roadways.”

ABATE is a national organization advocating for the rights of bikers. The acronym originally stood for “A Brotherhood Against Totalitarian Enactments.”