The American Motorcyclist Association 2017 Motorcyclist of the Year is Bob Ham, a California activist who led the effort to make that state's renowned off-highway vehicle program a permanent part of the Department of Parks and Recreation.
Awarded annually, the AMA Motorcyclist of the Year designation recognizes the individual or group that had the most profound impact on the world of motorcycling in the previous 12 months.
Ham led a coalition of OHV groups during hard-fought negotiations to turn an anti-OHV bill in the legislature into a law that provides stability and funding to the California Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Program.
“Bob Ham has been a leader in off-road advocacy in California for many years, and his work on Senate Bill 249 and its funding bill (S.B. 159) in 2017 illustrates both his dedication to OHV recreation and his political acumen in navigating the halls of the state legislature,” said AMA President and CEO Rob Dingman. “The contacts, friendships and alliances he built during the past few decades proved their value when the OHV community was faced with a bad piece of legislation and the possible demise of a great and beneficial program.”
California's Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Program was created in 1971 to provide the state with a better way to manage its growing demand for off-highway recreation, while acknowledging the need to protect natural and cultural resources and engender respect for private property. Ham was involved in getting that legislation passed. It was his introduction to off-road advocacy.
The full story of Ham's efforts can be found in the January issue of American Motorcyclist magazine.