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July 20, 2005

Biker roars into fame

Palm Bay rider helped repeal helmet laws in Florida, other states

BY GEORGE WHITE

FLORIDA TODAY

 

John "Rogue" Herlihy of Palm Bay -- soon to be inducted to a hall of fame in Sturgis, S.D. -- is a biker first and an activist for biker's rights second.

"I live the lifestyle 24/7 and have for 50 years. It's a society within a society," he said.

Herlihy, 67, is being honored this August in the Freedom Fighters section of the Sturgis Motorcycle Hall of Fame for his involvement in protecting the rights of motorcycle riders. Sturgis, in the Black Hills of South Dakota, hosts an annual bike week rally that attracts thousands.

"None of us got into this to get awards. I had just had enough and started doing something about it," Herlihy said.

Originally from Bridgeport, Conn., Herlihy got involved with bikers rights when the city attempted to ban motorcycles from parks.

Later he would champion the issue of helmet laws, which were repealed in many states, including Florida.

"There are a lot of factors involved in motorcycle crashes, and there is a lot of deaths of bikers with their helmets on. I would say the biggest problem we have is people making a left-hand turn in front of us," Herlihy said.

Still active in the fight for motorcyclists' rights, Herlihy is a lifetime member of the American Motorcycle Association, a founding member of American Bikers Aimed Toward Education (ABATE) of Florida and a member of the Harley Owners Group.

A former instructor with the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, Herlihy worked for many years as a mechanic, serving as director of research and development for American Motor Works in Melbourne.

Although retired, Herlihy still stays busy with his two Harleys; his company, Rogue Motorcycle and Event Photography; and writing for Easyriders magazine. He also does product testing and research and development for several motorcycle manufacturing companies.

Herlihy said he was surprised and proud to be named to the Hall of Fame, and said he will continue his vigilance to make sure bikers continue to be treated fairly.

"Challenges lay ahead because the trend is to increase legislation over bikers," he said.

For more information about John "Rogue" Herlihy of Palm Bay, visit the Web site www.bikerrogue.com

Contact White at 242-3787 or gwhite@flatoday.net

 

 

 

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