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AMA News and Notes: April 2014

April 01, 2014

National and Regional News

Washington, D.C.: A bipartisan bill introduced by U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) would prohibit the use of federal funds in establishing motorcycle-only checkpoints. This is a bill similar to H.R. 1861, introduced in in the U.S. House of Representatives by U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.).

Specifically, the "Stop Motorcycle Checkpoint Funding Act" would restrict the Secretary of Transportation from granting funds to any government entity for a program to check helmet use or to create checkpoints for an operator of a motorcycle or a motorcycle passenger.

The AMA fully supports the bill.

The AMA has tracked motorcycle-only checkpoints since they were first enacted in New York. The state of Georgia used funds from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in March 2011 to conduct motorcycle-only checkpoints as thousands of motorcyclists rode through the state on their way to Daytona Beach, Fla., for Bike Week.

Another motorcycle-only checkpoint was conducted in northern Virginia during one of the nation's most visible motorcycle rallies -- Rolling Thunder -- over the 2011 Memorial Day weekend.  

Motorcycle-only checkpoints also were conducted in Utah when thousands of riders attended a world-class road-racing event.

California, Missouri, North Carolina, Illinois, New Hampshire and Virginia have passed legislation curbing MOCs. Eleven states -- Alaska, Idaho, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Oregon, Rhode Island, Texas, Washington, Wisconsin and Wyoming -- have prohibited checkpoints by statute and/or judicial action.

If passed, this bill would ensure that riders across the country are safeguarded from ineffective and prejudicial MOCs funded by the federal government. For more information on the efforts by the AMA to fight motorcycle-only checkpoints, go to http://www.americanmotorcyclist.com/rights/motorcycleonlycheckpoints.aspx

Washington, D.C.: New regulations unveiled March 3 by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency include two key provisions that help protect motorcyclists and all-terrain vehicle owners from damaging their engines and possibly voiding manufacturers' warranties. The EPA adopted E10 -- a fuel containing up to 10 percent ethanol by volume -- as its standard test fuel, beginning in 2017. The pro-ethanol industry had pressed for adoption of E15 as the standard test fuel. The AMA submitted comments to the EPA to oppose the E15 standard in June 2013.

Also, the agency refused to grant a waiver for E15 for its vapor pressure limit for fuels. The vapor pressure limit is intended to reduce the amount of fuel vapors escaping into the air during refueling. During the warmer months, the pressure inside underground fuel storage tanks increases, resulting in more vapors being forced out when the refueling nozzle is open. This decision means that E15 fuels will be available in fewer locales during the warmer months, reducing the likelihood that motorcyclists and ATV riders could inadvertently fill their tanks with it.

 The EPA has approved E15 for use in 2001-and-newer cars, light-duty trucks and medium-duty passenger vehicles. But the fuel is not approved for use in motorcycles or ATVs. And manufacturers have warned that use of E15 in unapproved vehicles may void the warranties.

Blender pumps dispensing E15 at service stations create a high potential for inadvertent E15 misfueling by consumers. For more information about the E15 issue, go to http://www.americanmotorcyclist.com/rights/amafuelforthought.aspx.

Washington, D.C.: The Roadway Safety Foundation announced that the 2014 Roadway Safety Guide: A Primer for Community Leaders is available on-line at www.roadwaysafety.org. The guide is a hands-on, user-friendly document designed to provide community leaders and elected officials with basic information to improve roadway safety in their communities. Originally published by the RSF in 2000, this updated version includes information on new technologies and engineering treatments, such as modern roundabouts and median barriers that have been revised with years of safety research and data now supporting their use.

The guide includes checklists for identifying roadway trouble spots, information on building successful coalitions and tips for getting concerns prioritized by the people who can address them. Written for non-engineers, it draws people from all backgrounds into the roadway safety conversation.

For additional information on RSF, please visit www.roadwaysafety.org, on Facebook at www.Facebook.com/roadwaysafetyfoundation; and follow on Twitter at @roadway_safety.

State News

Indianapolis, Ind.: House Bill 1080, requested by ABATE of Indiana and sponsored by Rep. Michael Karickhoff (R-Kokomo), permits the operator of a motorcycle, motorized bicycle, motor scooter or bicycle stuck at an intersection controlled by a traffic-actuated signal to proceed through the intersection with due caution after waiting at least 120 seconds (2 minutes).  Signed into law March 27 by Gov. Mike Pence, the law takes effect July 1.

Annapolis, Md.: Two landowner-liability bills are under consideration in the state legislature: SB 533 and HB 660. While House Bill 660 is proceeding, Senate Bill 533, “Forests and Parks - Public Recreation on Private and State-Owned Land - Off-Highway Vehicles,” has stalled in the senate's Judicial Proceedings Committee. The bills would extend the current liability exemption for landowners in Garrett County, allowing cross-country skiing or snowmobiling to all counties and include the use of OHVs. Passage of these bills is especially important since the Department of Natural Resources has been unable to identify suitable state property for OHV use.

Hattiesburg, Miss.: All-terrain vehicle riders will have 31 miles of additional trails available this summer when the U.S. Forest Service reopens the Rattlesnake Bay ATV Trails in DeSoto National Forest. The AMA joined the ongoing efforts several off-highway vehicle groups and organized them into the Friends of Rattlesnake Bay, which then served as a strong and unified voice for the trail users.

Together, the Friends of Rattlesnake Bay and the AMA pushed through the reopening and a fee structure that provides for the continued maintenance and operation of the trails. Mississippi Tourism, a division of the Mississippi Development Authority, also supported the reopening of the trails. The Forest Service's Southern Region Recreation Resource Advisory Committee unanimously approved the proposal on Feb. 27, and officials hope to open the trails to the public in May.

The fee structure approved by the committee includes a $10-a-day fee for trail use and a $60-a-year annual operator fee. Trails covered by the fees include Rattlesnake Bay, the Little Tiger ATV Trail System, the Chickasaw ATV Trail System and the Bethel Motorized Trail System (which includes a motorcycle loop and ATV trail). 

Princeton, N.J.: Senate Bill 1614, sponsored by Sen. Jeff Van Drew (D-Dennis), would prohibit law enforcement agencies from conducting a roadside checkpoint or other systematic inspection of vehicles that is limited to a certain type of vehicle. The legislation would not change current law regarding roadside checkpoints or inspections of commercial vehicles or other types of lawful checkpoints or roadblocks.

Nelsonville, Ohio: Acting Forest Supervisor,DeVela Clark announced that the Wayne National Forest will offer three recreation fee waiver dates during summer and fall of 2014.

The announced dates are June 14, (All non-National Recreation Reservation System recreation sites & trails) which is National Get Outdoors Day; Sept. 27, (All non-National Recreation Reservation System recreation sites & trails), which is National Public Lands Day; and Nov. 8- 11, (trails only), which coincides with the Veterans Day weekend.

The fee waiver does not include Leith Run Campground and its group picnic shelters, Oak Hill Campground, Iron Ridge Campground, Two Points Group Campground and Picnic Shelter, and Lake Vesuvius’ Roadside and Furnace Group Picnic Shelters.

The Wayne National Forest offers over 390 miles of multiple-use trails, which include horse, ATV, off-highway motorcycle, mountain bike and hiking trails. Trail permits are required to ride ATV, OHM, mountain bike, and horse trails during the open season (April 15 through Dec. 15), with exception of designated fee waiver days. Trail permits go on sale beginning April 1.

The 241,000-acre Wayne National Forest offers a variety of recreation opportunities. For more information, visit http://www.fs.usda.gov/wayne .


Harrisburg, Pa.: A vote on HB 544 -- Recreational Use of Land and Water Act -- is expected soon. The bill originally was intended to limit liability for landowners who allowed the public to use their land for recreation, such as OHV riding. Legislators, bowing to lobbying by trial lawyers, added amendments that have rendered the bill nearly useless for opening new recreational lands. The AMA and the Pennsylvania Off-Highway Vehicle Association support the bill with amendment A-05741 introduced by state Rep. Dan Moul (R-Adams/Franklin), which offers a practical compromise.

Salt Lake City, Utah: House Bill 289, sponsored by Rep. Johnny Anderson (R-Taylorsville), repeals the sunset date on the affirmative defense for an operator of a motorcycle, moped, or bicycle who is 16 years of age or older, for a red light or red arrow violation in certain circumstances. The law that permitted operators of motorcycles, moped and bicycles to proceed with caution through an intersection controlled by a traffic-actuated signal that fails to recognize their vehicle was due to expire July 1, 2014. Gov. Gary Herbert signed the bill March 25.

Salt Lake City, Utah: House Bill 281, sponsored by Rep. Craig Hall (R-West Valley City), would authorize the operation of motorcycles and motor-driven cycles between lanes of traffic and between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles, subject to rules created by the Department of Public Safety.

Richmond, Va.: House Bill 122, sponsored by Del. Edward T. Scott (R-Culpeper), defines an autocycle to mean any three-wheeled motor vehicle that has a steering wheel and seating that does not require the operator to straddle or sit astride and is manufactured to comply with federal safety requirements for motorcycles. The bill addresses issues such as occupant helmet and eye protection requirements, and prohibits an autocycle from being used by a driver’s license applicant for a behind-the-wheel examination. HB-122 was signed into law March 3 by Gov. Terry McAuliffe and takes effect July 1.

Industry News

Irvine, Calif.: The Motorcycle Safety Foundation has launched four new courses on iTunes U: “An Adventure in Motorcycle Physics,” “Dr. Ray’s Street Strategies,” “Dr. Ray’s Guide to Group Riding” and “Dr. Ray’s Seasoned Rider.” These four courses address a wide variety of motorcycle tips and strategies to help motorcyclists sharpen their skills, make wise choices on the road and become riders of good riding character. All four courses are free and are available now.

Formatted for the iPhone and iPad, the MSF courses on iTunes U incorporate photos, technical diagrams and video clips to illustrate the concepts and have been structured as five-week courses. 

Thus far, MSF has assembled a significant digital offering, with a total of four iTunes U courses, five iTunes U collections, three iBooks and an iPhone/iPad App called “Motorcycle Riding Tips.” MSF iTunes U courses are available to users in most countries through the iTunes U portal. Complete details on all MSF Apps, iBooks and iTunes U courses can be found on the MSF website digital resources page


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AMA News & Notes is a monthly publication compiled and edited by the American Motorcyclist Association Government Relations Department. Designed to inform motorcyclists of rights-related issues and events in the United States and around the world, AMA News & Notes welcomes your input. Suggestions and editorial contributions can be sent to AMA Western States Representative Nick Haris at nharis@ama-cycle.org.

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