Executive Director

2017 Reflections
By Dave Chubby Charlebois 

Another riding season in Wisconsin has come to an end for everyone except a few die hard scooter tramps. If you're like me it's time to put the bike on the lift and start working on all the short term fixes you did to get through last season and get ready for next year. During tear down I pretty much assess what went wrong, how I plan on fixing it, and how can I prevent the same problem from happening again or at least maximize the time between costly teardowns. ABATE of WI Inc. does the same thing this time of year. Our state officers and directors take the time to evaluate how things ran in our organization in the past year and evaluate how best to keep things running in the future. Just like you maintain your ride throughout the season, our organization's leaders do periodic checks throughout the year and adjust resources according to our direct needs. I'm happy to say that ABATE of WI Inc. has made it through the year in much better shape than my scoot, and our ongoing preparations are shaping a successful 2018. But, before we start talking about what the new year has in store, let's review how 2017 went so we can all agree that ABATE of WI is moving in the right direction.

For the sake of brevity, which is unlike my norm, I'll try not to go into too much detail on each of our actions that I find successful because let's be frank: if you've been reading this newsletter all year you'll remember most of them. As a motorcyclists rights organization our three main focuses are legislation, education, and safety although other aspects of our organization such as marketing, fundraising, and membership are equally important to achieving our ultimate goals of freedom of the road.

Early in the year at our annual officer training our marketing committee introduced some of the new membership and recruitment tools and we began to brand some of our information with a uniform look and message. We took that message to several new large venues in the Milwaukee area at events such as Mama Tried and the Brewtown Rumble with some small success but more importantly we were able to reach out to a new generation of dedicated motorcyclists that will undoubtedly become the future of our organization.

Also early in the year at our annual Safe Rider Inc board meeting it was once again decided to not only offer FREE BRCII classes to ABATE of WI members (even the waiverable class) but also give memberships to all students that complete the BRC with us. This shows how much we value proper motorcycle instruction and the future of our organization.

We sent a small contingent of the legislative committee to introduce ourselves to our newly elected officials in Washington in January and then followed it up by sending a strong contingent of riders to DC in May for Bikers in the Beltway (BIB), the Motorcycle Riders Foundation's annual lobby day. We achieved some success at BIB with both of our Senators introducing and supporting our issues along with almost full support of our issues from our congressional delegation.

We held another successful Biker Lobby Day in Madison with almost five hundred members in attendance and all of our legislative offices reached.

Our awareness efforts once again started out the riding season and we sponsored over thirty billboards throughout the state and were able to secure longer term viewing on many of them for most of the summer. Regions continued to put the awareness message up with a variety of other mediums also including but not limited to the handouts our state office provided early in the year along with many rallies and events held to support our message. I believe that along with our quality Share the Road program, region promotion of awareness has substantially reduce ROW crashes in the past several years with numbers that back it up.

We were able to meet with the new leadership of the WI DOT, in part because of our involvement with the Motorcycle Advisory Council, and develop an understanding of our views toward safety in WI and how we can all work together to provide a safe riding experience for all motorcyclists in Wisconsin without infringing on our personal freedoms.

We were able to meet our fundraising goals with creative new ideas and regional support even with the loss of several of our larger fundraisers statewide. Many regions picked up the pace and the results proved positive.

Our membership fluctuated but ultimately gained slightly while many organizations both in our state and nationwide struggled or declined in membership.

We continued to work with many motorcycle clubs and organizations in our state and found support both hands on with their presence and help at our Biker Lobby Day and our Storm the Capitol event and with monetary assistance through substantial donations. This to me is proof that we are all united in our support of motorcyclists' rights in Wisconsin.

We began work on a new website that will be mobile friendly and up to date with all aspects of the organization including a new products store that should debut early in 2018.

We held our second annual executive officer training for our state officers and board members to optimize our effectiveness and initiate our first ever corporate strategic plan for the organization. This document will help us guide our budgets according to both long and short term goals and will help us better define where we expect to be in the future.

And last but not least, we took a chance after seeing little action on our legislation even with much assumed support and held our first ever Storm the Capitol event which utilized limited communication to make a surprise visit to our legislators offices and demand action on our bills. This event drew hundreds of bikers on a less than pleasant day and was effective. Our ROW bill passed through both houses within less than a month and is now awaiting Governor Walker's signature. We were also able to find a Senate author for our autocycle bill.

So, while it seems like the year flew by, you can see that there was no lounging around for the bikers of Wisconsin that make up this great organization. There are still things that we are working on to make more efficient, more fun, and more enjoyable. But I believe that in 2017 ABATE of WI members found value in their membership. Seven cents a day went a long way this year. If you want to find out how you can do more to support and guide our organization in the future, attend a meeting, continue to read your newsletter, follow us on Facebook, and sign up for our alerts. Our future will be what we make it. It's been great working with everyone this year; I look forward to seeing you in 2018. Have a merry Christmas and a happy new year. Until next month ... 

Ride Free.

Charlebois, Dave Chubby. "2017 Reflections." ABATE of Wisconsin Newsletter Dec. 2017.

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