National and Regional News
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (S. 3022) would inappropriately designate as federal Wilderness 23 million acres in Idaho, Montana, Oregon, Washington and Wyoming. Introduced by U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.), the bill would make the 23 million acres off-limits to off-highway-vehicle riders, forever close thousands of miles of legal trails currently enjoyed by tens of thousands responsible OHV enthusiasts. The AMA supports the designation of Wilderness that meets the strict criteria set forth in the Wilderness Act of 1964. However, the vast majority of the acreage in question do not meet the strict definition of Wilderness established by Congress. The AMA is calling on all motorcyclists and ATV riders to tell their senators to oppose this bill. To submit a letter to your senator, visit the AMA Advocacy Center.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – New guidelines for autonomous vehicles will be announced in July by the National Highway traffic Safety Administration. NHTSA Administrator Dr. Mark Rosekind said the NHTSA will concentrate on four main aspects: deployment, state policies, less vague process terminology and new tools. Several car makers and other companies, such as Google, have been testing autonomous driving vehicles. Some plan to introduce self-driving cars by 2020. The AMA has been working with federal officials to ensure that motorcycles are accounted for as this new technology is introduced.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. – The AMA took its case against higher-ethanol fuel to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, commenting in person during a June 9 hearing in Kansas City, Mo. The AMA urged the EPA to stop increasing the proposed amount of ethanol that must be blending into the nation’s fuel supply each year. The practical effect of the EPA’s action is that ethanol production would exceed the “blend wall.” That means more unsafe E15 (fuel with as much as 15 percent ethanol) and less E10 and E0 on the market. Instead, the AMA wants the EPA to reduce its mandated ethanol volumes. At the same time, the AMA mounted a petition drive that has drawn more than 12,000 signatures, which will be submitted to the EPA in July, along with the AMA’s formal comments. The EPA's proposed Renewable Volume Obligations call for 18.8 billion gallons of biofuel for 2017, up from 18.11 billion gallons this year. The obligations for 2015 were 16.93 gallons. Sign the AMA E15 petition here.
RENO, Nev. – The 2016 General Tire “Vegas to Reno” race in the Nevada desert is in jeopardy, with environmental groups asking the White House Council on Environmental Quality to prevent the use of a route through a newly established national monument. The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is conducting an assessment of the application to route part of the 640-mile race through the Basin and Range National Monument. The event, organized by the Best in the Desert Racing Association, is scheduled for Aug. 19-20. The complaint to the White House came from the Washington-based Public Employees for Environmental Ethics.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The lane-splitting bill (A.B. 51) passed the state senate committee on transportation and housing and moved through the Appropriations Committee to the full Senate. The proposed legislation would formally legalize lane splitting, a maneuver in which motorcyclists pass between rows of stopped or slowly moving traffic. The practice has been condoned by law enforcement for years because no law prohibits it there. A.B. 51 was modified by state Assemblyman Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) for the 2016 legislative session to remove specific speed restrictions proposed in 2015. The revised bill defines lane splitting and authorizes the California Highway Patrol to develop educational guidelines for safely splitting lanes. In developing those guidelines, the CHP would work with the state Department of Motor Vehicles, the Department of Transportation, the Office of Traffic Safety and a motorcycle organization focused on motorcycle safety. The AMA supports this bill.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Distracted driving is the focus of A.B. 1785, also sponsored by Assemblyman Quirk. The bill would clarify that no driver may operate a handheld electronic device while operating a motor vehicle. A driver may use the device only if it is mounted on the dashboard and can be operated with a single swipe or tap, such as for GPS units. The bill passed the committee on transportation and housing on June 28. The AMA supports this bill.
CUSTER COUNTY, Idaho – A piece of barbed wire strung across a trail about 4 feet from the ground endangered off-highway-vehicle riders and mountain bikers. The report from Sharetrails.org comes on the heels of reports from Massachusetts, where riders encountered cables stretched across trails in four state forests. Booby traps have been reported in recent years in Colorado, Arizona and New Mexico.
BRAINERD, Minn. – A multi-use trail system on a 2,000-acre parcel in Crow Wing County received approval in June from the County Board. The proposal designates trails in the Mississippi River Northwoods using existing forest roads and motorized trails carved through the property when the land was privately owned. The project now goes to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources for consideration for funding from the Off-Highway Vehicle Trails Assistance Program.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. – The Cibola National Forest and National Grasslands is revising its 1985 Forest Plan and has announced the July release of a Draft Plan and scheduled meetings where the public can comment. Forest plans guide decision-making, set priorities and direct projects. The public has 45 days to review the Draft Plan and comment after its release. For more information, contact Sarah Browne, assistant team leader, at firstname.lastname@example.org or (505) 346-3812. The workshops are scheduled for 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on:
- July 19 at Albuquerque High School, Albuquerque, N.M.
- July 25 at Gallup Community Service Center, Gallup, N.M.
- July 26 at Bernalillo High School, Bernalillo, N.M.
- July 27 at Magdalena High School, Magdalena, N.M.
- Aug. 1 at Knights of Columbus Hall, Grants, N.M.
- Aug. 2 at Corona Recreation Room at the Corona Schools, Corona, N.M.
- Aug. 3 at Dr. Saul Community Center, Mountainair, N.M.
- Aug. 8 at Albert Lyon Event Center, Truth or Consequences, N.M.
- Aug. 9 at East Mountain High School, Sandia Park, N.M.
ALBANY, N.Y. – A comprehensive study on the effectiveness of motorcycle helmets is the focus of A.B. 10452, introduced by Assemblyman Kevin A. Cahill (D-Ulster). The study is intended to assess the effectiveness of helmets in preventing injuries and fatalities, the functionality of a helmet when worn improperly and the protocols in place to inform consumers about the proper fit and use of helmets.
ALBANY, N.Y. – The state Senate passed increased penalties for motorists who endanger motorcyclists and pedestrians through reckless or careless driving. S. 6748-A, sponsored by Sen. Rich Funke (R-Fairport), is called Credo-Kade’s Law after two motorcyclists killed while riding. The bill would ensure a misdemeanor charge against any driver who causes serious injury or death to another person when the driver disobeys a traffic law. The penalties include 30 days in jail and/or a minimum $300 fine. Under current state law, there is no penalty for causing injury or death unless the motorist is driving while drunk or under a suspended license.
CHARLESTON, W.V. – Off-highway motorcycles could be permitted on public roadways under a new law that grants local governments authority to allow the practice within the Hatfield-McCoy Recreation Area. Local governments already were allowed to permit and regulate the use of ATVs on public roads.
IRVINE, Calif. – The Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Basic eCourse, which was introduced in 2014 as an introduction to motorcycling theory and practice, is now available through smartphones, tablets, laptops and desktop computers. The three-hour course costs $19.99 as a standalone purchase at www.msf-usa.org, but can be included in the hands-on Basic RiderCourse in some states. The Basic eCourse uses photos, graphics, video and more to provide participants with an overview of proper motorcycling, with an emphasis on personal decisions and choices. The course is available worldwide. Click here.
MILWAUKEE, Wis. – Harley-Davidson expects to have an electric motorcycle in production within the next five years, according to statements made to the Milwaukee Business Journal by Sean Cummings, H-D senior vice president of global demand. The company’s LiveWire electric concept motorcycle drew praise when it was revealed to the public in 2014 and during a subsequent tour of major U.S. cities.
KUMAMOTO, Japan – Honda resumed motorcycle manufacturing at its plant here on June 6, nearly two months after production was halted due to the 2016 Kumamoto Earthquake. Production initially resumed on a small-scale, with increases occurring in stages, as repairs are completed on the facility. The company hopes to be back in full production in mid-August. A Honda press release states that the company “is fully committed to continue its efforts towards a rapid recovery, and is grateful for its customers’ understanding.”
ROME – Piaggio has teamed with the Enjoy scooter-sharing program to provide scooters in the Italian capital city. Enjoy uses about 150 Piaggio MP3 three-wheeled scooters for its sharing program in Milan. Now, Piaggio is supplying 300 scooters for the Rome program, which covers about 20 square miles where demand is expected to be high. The Piaggio three-wheelers come with an electronic limitation that sets the maximum speed at 56 mph. They have a two-up saddle with two helmets in the cargo compartment underneath the seat. All scooters are equipped with GPS units, front and rear cameras and a black box that records video and telemetry in case of a crash.
PARIS – July 1 marks the first day that motorcycle built before 2000 are banned from the city’s streets on weekdays as part of a plan to reduce vehicle emissions and improve air quality. The ban is in effect between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. The ban also includes cars and trucks built before Jan. 1, 1997. The anti-pollution measures are scheduled to expand through 2020, when cars registered before 2011 and motorcycles registered before July 2004 will be banned from the city. Owners of banned vehicles can receive as much as $452 toward purchase of an electric bicycle and half-price subscriptions to one of two bicycle-sharing services.
PICKERINGTON, Ohio – AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days is scheduled for July 8-10 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. The weekend includes the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Bike Show presented by Old Bike Barn, the American Motor Drome Wall of Death, a classic motorcycle field meet, demo rides of current production bikes, seminars, live music, raffle bikes, a beer garden with the region's best craft beers, and displays of AMA clubs and custom bike builders. The event also features the AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days Adventure Bike Challenge, the AMA Pit Bike TT and other activities. For 2016, with the generous support of Suzuki Motor of America, AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days honors the career of Suzuki rider and AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer Wes Cooley. The infield display, Celebrating 40 Years of AMA Superbikes, presented by Suzuki, will showcase the rich history of AMA Superbike racing with a number of historic championship-winning machines. The central piece of the display will be Cooley's 1980 championship-winning GS1000, which Cooley will ride in demonstration laps around the road race course each day. AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days, a fundraiser for the nonprofit AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame, includes vintage and post-vintage motocross, trials, hare scrambles, vintage road racing and mini road racing in the upper paddock. A half-mile dirt track event will be held at the nearby Ashland County Fairgrounds. For more details on AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days, see www.amavintagemotorcycledays.com and www.facebook.com/AMAVintageMotorcycleDays.
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