The governor lost the endorsement of a motorcycle rights group after signing an executive order ushering in autonomous vehicle technology.
CHICAGO — The motorcycle rights organization ABATE of Illinois rescinded its endorsement of Gov. Bruce Rauner. The group, A Brotherhood Aimed Toward Education, endorsed the Winnetkan motorcycle enthusiast in August but on Sunday sharply criticized his decision to sign an executive order establishing a pilot program on autonomous vehicles.
Illinois Political Action Committee Chairman Mike Fisher said the order would allow autonomous vehicles onto Illinois roads “no safeguards.” In a statement, he said the group was disappointed in the governor.
“It has been our policy when working with elected officials on issues to hear what they say, but see what they do,” Fisher said. “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.”
Rauner signed an executive order Wednesday creating an autonomous vehicle testing program administered by the Illinois Department of Transportation.
“We hope that by removing this endorsement other elected officials realize how seriously we take the issue of autonomous vehicles on Illinois roadways,” Fisher said.
The order established a public-private partnership including Autonomous Illinois, which includes coordination with six state agencies to allow for testing of self-driving vehicles with a goal of improving safety. The new vehicles could be on the road within the decade and, announcing the order, Rauner said he wants Illinois to be in the forefront of research of new connected and automated vehicles.
“This technology is here and Illinois is ready to embrace it,” Rauner said. “Working with our public and private partners, we can make our roads safer, save lives, attract investment and create new high-tech jobs throughout the state.”
Earlier, ABATE State Legislative Coordinator Josh Witkowski said autonomous vehicle technology could improve safety for bikers if developed properly, but the governor’s plan was not a responsible one.
“They have decided to put motorcyclists’ lives at risk by turning Illinois roads into a field experiment for an unproven technology still in its infancy while providing very few safeguards to the public,” Witnkoski said after Rauner signed the order.
The withdrawal of the endorsement announcement came a day after Rauner donned a black ABATE hoody below his signature motorcycle vest at one of President Donald Trump’s Make America Great Again rallies on behalf of 12th District Republican U.S. Rep. Mike Bost.
Rauner earlier said he traveled to Murphysboro to appeared in the crowd alongside Republican National Finance Committee Chair Todd Ricketts, who met with Trump at the event, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.for federal grants and talk about policy issues. The two did not speak and Trump did not mention Rauner in his remarks. Rauner
“I’m probably going to ride my Harley down tomorrow because it’s supposed to be a nice day. I’ll be doing some campaigning all the way down,” Rauner said, according to the Tribune. “And then I’d like to catch up with the president.”
The ABATE state political action committee citing his promotion of motorcycle tourism on Route 66, legislation to increase the visibility of motorcycles and help he has provided the motorcycle community with raising money for charity when it earlier endorsed Rauner. In a statement, the president of the organization’s Chicago chapter pushed back at critics of the candidate’s motorcycle apparel.
“Governor Rauner is a true motorcyclist, and we feel it’s a slap in the face of all motorcyclists for someone to have called his riding apparel a costume – we take our riding gear serious, and so does he,” said Patrick “P.J.” Jones back in August. “Bruce was a member before becoming Governor and has been a friend to all motorcyclists in the state. He has gone on many rides with the Chicago Chapter, and has supported many of the charities that we support including the Chicagoland Toys for Tots Parade and Shriners Hospitals.”
Source: The Patch