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  • DC Insider: AMA protects your access to safe fuels

    If you are an AMA member with AMA Roadside Assistance (available at no additional charge with autorenewal – click here for more info), then you know how this service provides peace of mind when you go riding on your favorite roads or trails.

    The AMA hopes you will never have to use it.

    However, this is becoming less likely because of the marketplace permeation by E15 fuel. E15 gasoline contains as much as 15 percent ethanol by volume. The AMA opposes E15 because misfueling can cause engine and fuel system failure to motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles and can void manufacturers’ warranties.

    According to Federal Trade Commission, “the record … shows a risk that misfueling may harm conventional vehicles and non-road engines.”  

    As for what E15 can do to engines, the EPA recently explained that “[e]thanol impacts motor vehicles in two primary ways. First . . . ethanol enleans the [air/fuel] ratio (increases the proportion of oxygen relative to hydrocarbons) which can lead to increased exhaust gas temperatures and potentially increase incremental deterioration of emission control hardware and performance over time, possibly causing catalyst failure. Second, ethanol can cause materials compatibility issues, which may lead to other component failures.”

    What does this mean for motorcycles and ATVs?

    According to the EPA, “In motorcycles and non-road products [using E15 and higher ethanol blends], EPA raised engine-failure concerns from overheating.”

    Besides voiding your warranty and causing engine failure, there is another pleasantry in the mix. Federal law makes it illegal to use E15 in your motorcycle or ATV, because they are not on the EPA’s approved list.

    What is the punishment for violating this law? A fine of up to $25,000 a day!

    All this from a questionable fuel that is propped up by subsidies from our federal government.

    Are you sick of the nonsense coming from Washington?

    It doesn’t have to be this way.

    By joining the AMA, you will be part of an organization that is leading the effort within the motorcycle community to protect access to safe fuels. In fact, my personal motto is “Kick it, don’t kiss it.”

    This is the attitude I am bringing to the table and am looking for other riders to fight the nonsense coming out of Washington.

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  • DC Insider: Big win for motorcyclists’ privacy

    After hearing the concerns of the motorcycling community, Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and John Hoeven (R-N.D.) introduced an amendment to S. 1925 that would extend to all motor vehicles the protection of information gathered by event data recorders, sometimes referred to as black boxes.

    On April 9, the amendment passed the U.S. Senate’s Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation by voice vote.

    The new language of the bill grants ownership of any data collected by an event data recorder for any motor vehicle, instead of only passenger motor vehicles, as the original language stated.

    Federal law (49 USC § 32101) specifically states that motorcycles are not to be considered passenger motor vehicles.

    As a result of your hard work, motorcyclists could be granted the same privacy protections as the owners of passenger motor vehicles.

    Additionally, both the U.S. House of Representatives and the Senate have introduced bipartisan privacy bills that aim to protect the privacy of information collected by event data recorders in motor vehicles.

    This is great news for the motorcycling community, as each chamber begins the process of drafting a highway bill.

    While the House and Senate bills will surely be different, it is likely that each broader transportation bill will encompass some form of privacy protection for motorists.

    As a result, when the bills are reconciled the question will not be IF privacy protections should be included but whether to use the House or Senate version in providing the protection.

    Now, the million-dollar question is: When this will happen?

    While the AMA continues working to ensure the next surface transportation bill recognizes the benefits of motorcycling and includes funding for motorcycle safety – but not for motorcycle-only checkpoints -- it is reassuring to know that motorcyclists’ private data would be treated the same as that of other motorists.

    The AMA will continue to keep you updated on legislative and regulatory actions that could affect your right to ride.

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  • AMA Freedom Friday celebrates the freedom that access provides

    Access.

    It’s a simple word. It’s meaning is obvious, right?

    You can get into a place. What else do you need to know? 

    No need to give it a second thought. 

    But, wait. Let’s think about it a little more.

    There likely are some aspects of “access” you haven’t considered.

    For dirt riders, access to public lands is a big issue. For street riders, access to parking is very important. But what about access to safe fuels? Access to health insurance? Access to communities controlled by homeowners associations? What about access to private property? Or safe highways? Or high-occupancy-vehicle lanes?

    Some of those issues probably were already on your radar when you started reading this page. But all of them are vital to motorcyclists as individuals and to motorcycling in the long run.

    We want you to be aware of these important aspects of access. And we want you to know that, at the American Motorcyclist Association, we think about access a lot. 

    Much of the effort expended by our Government Relations Dept. is focused on protecting, preserving and expanding your access. 

    • We fight for your right to access public lands on your motorcycle or ATV with your friends and family. 
    • We press for access to designated motorcycle parking spaces in parking garages and along the curbs in congested urban areas.
    • We back public-private partnerships that resolve liability issues and open access to trails across private property for motorized recreation.
    • We urge legislators at all levels to ensure motorcyclists and ATV riders have access to coverage under a health insurance plan. 
    • We battle the ethanol lobby to prevent the expanded distribution of E15, a fuel that could damage your engines and void the manufacturer’s warranty. We are protecting your access to safe fuels. 
    • We encourage communities to provide access to urban off-highway-vehicle parks to give enthusiasts a place to ride safely and legally.

    In short, “access” is not just a simple word to us at the AMA. We view “access” – your access -- as a precious commodity that requires vigilance, dedication and resources to gain, to hold and to grow.

    So, on this Freedom Friday during AMA Go Ride! Month, pause and ponder the wide array of access issues that affect your riding life. Then hop on that bike and Go Ride!

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  • DC Insider: Do your homework on E15

    You don’t dispense different types of milk from the same bottle or run premium beer through the same tap as the cheap stuff.

    So why are the pro-ethanol folks so intent on jeopardizing the health and performance of your motorcycle or ATV by promoting blender pumps that funnel their E15 and E10 mixtures through the same device?

    And why are they fighting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s decision to roll back the requirement for wider distribution and use of E15, when that fuel is not approved for any of the 22 million motorcycle and ATVs on the road and trail (to say nothing of your lawn mowers and other small engines).

    Why do the ethanol groups push you to risk damaging your fuel lines, wrecking your engine and, very likely, voiding your warranty?

    The pro-ethanol group can’t quarrel with our position, so they try to bait us (and you) with advice, such as “Read the label.”

    We counter with this: “Do your homework.”

    The AMA’s approach has been to educate our members about the current problems with widespread distribution of E15 fuel. So, by now, you likely already know that it’s a gasoline formulation that contains up to 15 percent ethanol by volume.

    And you know that any amount of ethanol in the fuel can create problems for many vintage machines.

    You know that the AMA has called for testing of the effects of E15 on all types of vehicles before the government approves wider distribution of the fuel.

    And you know that the pro-ethanol groups are well funded and deeply invested in convincing federal officials to continue to help them expand their businesses.

    The AMA helped stall the government-subsidized spread of E15 by convincing Congress to prohibit grants that paid for more blender pumps.

    Now we need your help to convince the EPA to stick to its guns on this issue.

    Tell the EPA that you support its proposal to reduce the total amount of ethanol required in transportation fuel nationwide in 2014. You can send a prewritten email to the EPA immediately by entering your information into the form below and clicking the red "submit" button. To send a Tweet to the EPA, click here.

    For the latest information on the AMA’s efforts to protect your access to safe fuels, go to http://www.americanmotorcyclist.com/rights/amafuelforthought.aspx.

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  • DC Insider: A new way of thinking about federal Wilderness?

    To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, the U.S. Department of the Interior is highlighting the benefits of Wilderness.

    The DOI writes that the act, “has allowed generations of Americans to enjoy the natural beauty of our nation.”

    The American Motorcyclist Association supports the new designation of public lands as Wilderness when all of the land receiving the designation meets the stringent definition set forth by the 1964 law:

    “A wilderness, in contrast with those areas where man and his own works
    dominate the landscape, is hereby recognized as an area where the earth and
    its community of life are untrammeled by man, where man himself is a visitor
    who does not remain.”

    However, the AMA disagrees that Wilderness is the only – or most effective – manner to encourage Americans to enjoy our nation’s public lands.

    In fact, Wilderness designations often create roadblocks to average Americans who are trying to enjoy themselves on public lands.

    The Wilderness designation means motorized vehicles are banned, shutting out one of the country’s most popular forms of recreation.

    And those stringent restrictions penalize Americans who need mechanized help to gain access to Wilderness areas.

    Many Wilderness areas require permits that limit the number of people allowed in at any given time, making it difficult for outfitters and guides to operate a profitable business.

    While federal law states that Wilderness areas shall be devoted to recreation – among other things – the law clearly is not applied in that manner when Wilderness designations slam shut the gate to visitors.

    How could this be changed?

    The AMA urges land managers and lawmakers to shift their thinking on land use designations. We urge others to follow the model of U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet (D-Colo.) and U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton (R-Colo.) in their bills regarding the Hermosa Creek Watershed in Colorado and U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) with his Public Lands Initiative.

    Instead of going for an all-or-nothing strategy, Rep. Tipton and Sen. Bennet saw the need to compromise. As a result, their final bills codify a management area where motorized recreation will receive special protection. At the same time, the bills identify other areas that have not been used extensively and propose to designate them as Wilderness.

    This is a commonsense solution to a difficult problem.

    The AMA supports these bills – and the process that brought them about – because it will allow all to continue to access public lands.

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  • DC Insider: Privacy and data protection for all road users

    As the result of the introduction of new technologies – and revelations about how the information gleaned from this technology is being used – privacy and data collection issues are debated regularly in the media, Congress and the executive branch.

    A host of bills has been introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate aimed at protecting and clarifying the types of data which are owned by individual consumers – and cannot be used without consent – and which consumer data are available for marketing and legal proceedings.

    Several bills have been introduced that will clarify who owns and, as a result, who can access data from your vehicles.

    Like so many things in life, the bills are not equal.

    H.R. 2414, the Black Box Privacy Protection Act, is a broad proposal. First, it defines an event data recorder – commonly known as a black box – as “any device or means of technology installed in an automobile that records information such as automobile or motorcycle speed, seatbelt use, application of brakes or other information pertinent to the operation of the automobile or motorcycle, as applicable.”

    The bill goes on to say that “any data recorded on any event data recorder in an automobile or motorcycle shall be considered the property of the owner of the automobile or motorcycle.”

    H.R. 2414 would ensure that the owner of the motorcycle would own the data. No one else could access this data without the permission of the owner, a court order, or for diagnostic and maintenance purposes.

    This bill grants the same protections to operators of motorcycles as is granted other non-commercial vehicles.

    The American Motorcyclist Association fully supports this bipartisan bill.

    S. 1925, the Driver Privacy Act, is significantly narrower in scope.

    The bill would grant privacy protection only for data that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration requires to be collected under 49 CFR Part 563.

    This section of the Code of Federal Regulations requires only passenger cars, multipurpose passenger vehicles, trucks and buses to be equipped with the data recorders.

    Motorcycles are not required to have the devices.

    As a result, since event data recorders are not required to collect information in motorcycles, our data would not be covered under S. 1925.

    Simply because event data recorders or black boxes are not required to be placed onto motorcycles does not mean motorcycles are not equipped with them. In fact, some current models are equipped with a black box.

    While other motorcycle rights organization have supported both bills, the AMA is working with the sponsors and cosponsors of the Senate bill to ensure motorcyclists are granted the same protections as other non-commercial drivers on the roads.

    American Motorcyclist Association logo

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  • DC Insider: Using the Land and Water Conservation Fund to increase access opportunities

    As Congress makes a last minute dash to wrap up its legislative business before campaigning begins in earnest, the American Motorcyclist Association urges recreationists, lawmakers and land managers to consider how recreational facilities are going to be maintained over the long term.

    As I have noted in other blog posts, if many recreational opportunities are to remain open, safe and environmentally responsible, the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act will need to be reauthorized, albeit with additional transparency requirements.

    However, the FLREA will not be enough to reduce the maintenance backlog on federal lands.

    Instead, we urge lawmakers to look at the Land and Water Conservation Fund as an additional source of recreational funding.

    The president’s fiscal 2015 budget proposed $900 million for the LWCF. It states: “This funding will provide the stability needed for agencies and states to make strategic, long-term investments in the nation’s natural infrastructure and outdoor economy to support jobs, preserve natural and cultural resources, bolster outdoor recreation opportunities, and protect wildlife.”

    The AMA fully supports preserving resources and bolstering outdoor recreation. However, federal LWCF revenues are used predominantly for land acquisition – $214 million in 2010 – and other projects that increase the burden on land managers’ already strained budgets.

    This ensures the LWCF is not as effective as it could be in increasing recreational opportunities.

    We urge lawmakers to consider allowing a portion of LWCF to be used for maintenance and enhancement of current trails and trail-related facilities.

    Why buy more, you don’t use what you already own?

    The environmental upside is significant.

    With the proper funding, off-highway-vehicle trails can be built and maintained using the standard set by Joe Warnex and the AMA.

    This would significantly reduce the environmental impact of trails – a win-win for recreationists, conservations and land managers.

    The change in emphasis would reduce the maintenance backlog and increase existing recreational opportunities on federal land.

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  • DC Insider: AMA seeks transparency in federal recreation fees

    In 2004, the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act became law – giving federal land managers the ability to impose fees to generate funding for enhanced recreational experiences.

    The law is certainly beneficial to many off-highway-vehicle riders – most recently demonstrated with the preliminary approval for the reopening of the Rattlesnake Bay OHV Trail in Mississippi.

    However, there have also been complaints about the implementation of new fees – with some riders claiming that motorized recreationists have paid an unfair share.

    As the 113th Congress begins to consider the last pieces of legislation before political campaigning begins in earnest, the FLREA is being considered for reauthorization.

    This is an important piece of legislation for OHV riders.

    Without the FLREA, it would be impossible for federal land managers to issue special recreation permits that are essential for many OHV events. Recreational opportunities would be lost, as federal land managers would be forced to deal with reduced revenue that could have been spent on maintenance and trail building.

    The American Motorcyclist Association wants to ensure that the fees collected are directly benefiting OHV recreationists and not being used to subsidize other non-paying visitors. To this end we are working to put new rules in place that would protect OHV riders.

    The proposed rules would prohibit land-management agencies from using special recreation permit fees to fund costs that would be necessary even without OHV events. In the past, some agencies have inflated the price of special recreation permit fees to help offset operating expenses unrelated to the OHV event.

    To accomplish this goal, we are asking that the law be changed to require federal agencies to keep detailed records of fees collected and money spent.

    We want to pay our fair share, but we do not want to subsidize others.

    What other ways can we work the Congress to make the FLREA a better, more efficient program? Please send comments to grassroots@ama-cycle.org.

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  • DC Insider: Ethanol boosters attempt to distort the facts concerning E15 and motorcycles

    The American Motorcyclist Association has been working to educate its members -- and the entire motorcycle community -- on the need for an independent scientific test on the effects of E15 fuel on motorcycle and all-terrain vehicle engines and fuel systems.

    However, E15 (a gasoline formulation that contains up to 15 percent ethanol by volume) is already in the marketplace and inadvertent misfueling is a serious concern for our members. Moreover, E15 use can void manufacturers’ warranties. Because of these concerns, and in the absence of the independent testing that we seek, the AMA is opposed to the availability of E15.

    If you have been reading social media comments from ethanol boosters, you wouldn’t hear this. Instead, you read that the AMA is “back 2 old tricks fighting E15’s existence” or “just read the pump label.”

    This rhetoric doesn’t help inform motorcyclists. It just adds to the confusion. Perhaps this is their goal.

    But the pro-E15 rhetoric really misses the key concern of the motorcycling community, which is that 100 percent of the 22 million motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles on the road and trail in the U.S. today are not designed to run ethanol blends higher than 10 percent.

    Many older machines favored by vintage enthusiasts have problems with any ethanol in the fuel.

    And yet the opportunity to misfuel and damage an engine with higher ethanol blends, such as E15, is very real.

    The bottom line for the AMA is this: Motorcyclists simply want safe fuels available at all fuel retailers and measures employed by retailers to ensure they cannot inadvertently put unsafe fuels in their tanks.

    Please be sure to share this with your fellow motorcyclists to counter the spin coming from the E15 lobby group that does not have your best interests at heart. The AMA is your voice.

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  • DC Insider: Motorcycle-only checkpoint bill arrives in U.S. Senate

    On March 5, a group of U.S. senators introduced the Stop Motorcycle Checkpoint Funding Act.

    This bill – similar to H.R. 1861 – would prevent the Secretary of Transportation from providing any grants to state or local governments to pay for helmet-use enforcement or to create a motorcycle-only checkpoint.

    If you have not already, let your senators know how important this issue is to you. Please follow this link, fill in your information at the bottom of the page and click “Submit.”

    The introduction in the Senate of the Stop Motorcycle Checkpoint Funding Act is an important step toward ending federal subsidies for motorcycle-only checkpoints. Now, it will be possible to demonstrate bipartisan support in both chambers of Congress to end this ineffective and discriminatory practice.

    As I argued in a previous post, the checkpoints threaten the freedoms of all riders – not just those that get ensnared in them.

    These bills send a message to the National Highway Safety Transportation Administration that, while it can “consider any feasible approach” to reduce crashes, Congress is cognizant of the rights of motorcyclists and motorcycle-only checkpoints are not a feasible option.

    Currently, four U.S. Senators are on record supporting the legislation – Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Ron Johnson (R-Wis.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.).

    The AMA will keep you posted on the progress of ending federal funding for MOCs as the 113th Congress begins its last push to consider legislation before campaigning begins in earnest.

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