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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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  • DC Insider: Victory at Rattlesnake Bay

    On Feb. 27, advocates for increased off-highway-vehicle access on our nation’s public lands took a major step toward reopening a popular trail in Mississippi.

    The Friends of Rattlesnake Bay, working with the American Motorcyclist Association, successfully petitioned the Southern Region Recreation Resource Advisory Committee to approve a new fee structure that the U.S. Forest Service said it needs to reopen and maintain the Rattlesnake Bay OHV Trail in the DeSoto National Forest.

    Along with the daily use fees, the RRAC approved the creation of an annual pass that will allow riders to visit many of the trails in southern Mississippi for one low fee.

    The Rattlesnake Bay OHV Trail had been closed due to funding issues since 2003. It was further damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The Forest Service had said the reason it could not reopen the popular trail was a lack of funding for maintenance.

    Without the fee, the OHV trail would remain closed.

    Now, pending approval from the regional forester, the trail could reopen this year.

    The authority for federal land managers to levy fees comes from the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act.

    The FLREA is very specific about when land managers can levy a new fee and how the funds can be spent. For example, fees cannot be levied on areas without enhancements, and at least 80 percent of the fees collected at a specific area must be used within that area.

    Additionally, no fee could be approved unless it had been reviewed by a RRAC, a citizen group composed of varied interests.

    We hope that access advocates can build on the success in southern Mississippi and continue to increase recreational opportunities on our public lands.

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  • DC Insider: Contest to promote OHV use on public lands

    Do you know someone who has worked to spread the sport of motorcycling to younger riders?

    If so, please nominate that person for the federal Department of the Interior’s “Champion of Change” award.

    A Champion of Change is any person who is working to get young people to play, learn, serve and work outdoors. This can include getting young riders out on dirt bikes and volunteering to make our nation’s trails safer and more fun to navigate.

    As someone who started riding at a young age due to the example set by older riders, I urge you to think of someone who has been a role model for young racers or motorcyclists and nominate that person for this award.

    Not only is this a chance to recognize someone who is helping to grow the sport, this is a great opportunity to demonstrate to non-riders the benefits of riding!

    Don’t wait; applications are due this Friday, Feb. 21st!

    You can apply by visiting going to the application form here.

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  • DC Insider: Vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology is here

    The U.S. Dept. of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced today that it will begin taking steps to enable vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communication technology for light vehicles.

    What makes V2V work?

    V2V uses dedicated short-range communications, similar to Wi-Fi, that are combined with the Global Positioning System. This system provides a 360-degree view of similarly equipped vehicles within communication range. Nine indicators are used by a V2V system to help prevent crashes. They are GPS position, speed, acceleration, heading, transmission state, brake status, steering wheel angle, path history and path prediction.

    According to the DOT, information transmitted by each vehicle would be anonymous and won’t include personal identifiers, such as a name and license plate number. Additionally, a sophisticated security system would be in place to ensure communication between vehicles is authentic and can be trusted.

    When a crash is predicted, the vehicle will provide a warning to the driver with a seat vibration, visual display or a combination of these indicators. Automobile manufacturers will use different interfaces to alert the driver and passengers.

    How do motorcycles fit into this emerging technology?

    As envisioned, motorcycles would have similar equipment to other motor vehicles — such as an antennae and a module to store the short-range communication device and GPS. The rider would remain in full control of the motorcycle. The technology would make it possible for other similarly equipped vehicles to “see” the motorcyclist.

    "Vehicle-to-vehicle technology represents the next generation of auto safety improvements, building on the life-saving achievements we've already seen with safety belts and air bags," said U.S. Transportation Sec. Anthony Foxx. "By helping drivers avoid crashes, this technology will play a key role in improving the way people get where they need to go, while ensuring that the U.S. remains the leader in the global automotive industry."

    What are the AMA’s concerns?

    With safety and privacy our utmost priorities, the AMA has some areas of concern with V2V technology. The DOT has stated that privacy and system are secure. We aren’t convinced. The AMA has provided comments to the Federal Communication Commission stating that the V2V technology may be compromised with unlicensed devices, such as other Wi-Fi networks. We asked the FCC for further testing to ensure vehicles using advanced crash-avoidance and vehicle-to-vehicle- technologies are not compromised.

    V2V technology presents another potential problem. With intersections already a well-documented problem for motorcyclists, can you imagine the false sense of security that drivers may have while relying on advanced safety technologies? They may listen and look for the bells and whistles on their cars rather than look out the windows to actually see motorcycles. Drivers may believe these technologies will protect them and other road users and may not be aware that these technologies could possibly malfunction at a critical moment.

    What is next?

    The NHTSA is currently finalizing its analysis of the data gathered as part of its year-long pilot program and is scheduled to publish a research report on V2V communication technology for public comment in the coming weeks. The report will include analysis of the department's research findings in several key areas, including technical feasibility, privacy and security, and preliminary estimates on costs and safety benefits. NHTSA will then begin working on a regulatory proposal that would require V2V devices in new vehicles, consistent with applicable legal requirements, executive orders, and guidance. The DOT believes that the signal this announcement sends to the market will significantly enhance development of this technology and pave the way for market penetration of V2V safety applications.

    As these new technologies emerge we must remain vigilant to ensure that motorcyclists, and motorcyclists’ rights, are protected. The AMA is at the forefront in this effort and we will continue to inform our members and motorcyclists about our concerns and possible

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  • DC Insider: Washington misinformed about the Recreational Trails Program

    In the past few weeks, several Washington-based think tanks have attempted to paint the Recreational Trails Program as a rentier program, that is, an unearned benefit simply taken from the federal Highway Trust Fund without contributing funds to it.

    That is a blatant mischaracterization.

    The RTP was created on a bipartisan basis in 1991 to provide funds to the states to develop and maintain recreational trails and trail-related facilities for both non-motorized and motorized recreational trail uses. Funds for the RTP come from taxes generated by fuel used for off-highway vehicle recreation — by off-highway motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, snowmobiles, and off-highway light trucks.

    As an OHV rider, every time you fill your machine’s tank, you send money to the trust fund and, subsequently, to the trails program. In other words, (much of) what you pay is returned to recreationists through the RTP.

    The RTP provides concrete benefits that drive local economies and provide recreational opportunities for millions of off-highway-vehicle riders, who pay an estimated $170 million annually into the trust fund. In fact, OHV users pay more into the fund than all recreationists – motorized and non-motorized -- take out of it.

    The structure of the program ensures that RTP projects address local needs in the most efficient manner possible.

    Before the recreational trails program, OHV riders were paying into the trust fund while receiving no funding for recreational trails. To prevent this from occurring again in 2015, we are working with a broad coalition of recreationists and members of Congress to ensure the RTP is included and strengthened in the coming reauthorization of the nation’s highway and transit bill.

    Please continue to scan your inbox for AMA alerts regarding, not only the RTP, but the many issues that affect your right to ride. If you have not already, sign up for the AMA’s free alerts.

    Please follow the AMA on Twitter @AMA_Rights and like us on Facebook.

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  • Update: Federal agency webpage will retain use of inflammatory language

    In a previous American Motorcyclist Association Rights blog, the AMA and its All-Terrain Vehicle Association made you aware of the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s infographic webpage that contained inflammatory language titled CPSC Infographic: Big Real Rough Tough Deadly ATV Statistics.

    The AMA and ATVA sent a letter to the CPSC asking what exactly is the CPSC’s intention when it selected the words “rough” and “tough?” And the use of the word “deadly” implies what we can only infer is an extreme bias against ATVs by the CPSC.

    On Nov. 21, the CPSC responded, stating that they “have decided not to revise the infographic that appears on the Commission’s website.”  It elaborates with “[t]he Commission staff determined that the material is factually accurate and not misleading because it is supported by data in Commission files.”

    The AMA and ATVA disagree.

    The use of the word “deadly” seems to contradict the CPSC’s own statistics that indicate an improving ATV safety record.

    The result: this new infographic webpage may result in a harmful relationship between the responsible motorized community and the CPSC.

    The AMA and ATVA want to know what you think of the new infographic webpage. Sound off with a comment.

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  • DC Insider: Motorcycle only checkpoints – a threat to motorcycling

    You may have recently seen the American Motorcyclist Association’s announcement that a bipartisan bill banning motorcycle only checkpoints is going to be introduced in the U.S. Senate.

    Like many riders, you may have never been subjected to these discriminatory checkpoints. However, they are a threat to the freedom of all riders.

    The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration has argued that, to reduce motorcycle crashes, the agency “need[s] to consider any feasible approach” to reduce fatalities.

    The AMA agrees that all approaches should be considered. However, common sense and empirical evidence has already identified a more effective manner to prevent crashes – rider education and motorist awareness programs.

    As we noted in an earlier blog post, the federal, state and local governments have spent well over $500,000 on MOCs in the past two years alone.

    This money could have paid the Motorcycle Safety Foundation Basic Rider Course fee for 10,000 potential motorcyclists, been used to combat distracted driving or been invested – with federal matching dollars – in the current comprehensive study to analyze the root causes of motorcycle crashes.

    Instead, the money was wasted on frivolous, discriminatory MOCs.

    The U.S. House of Representatives has already introduced a bill to change this. Soon the Senate will be on board too. With luck, these two important bills will be passed quickly by their respective chambers, reconciled and sent to the president.

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  • DC Insider: Losing recreational opportunities at every RMP

    It seems like every week I review a new Resource Management Plan, Travel Management Plan or Environmental Impact Statement that declares off-highway-vehicle use on America’s land must be restricted.

    Let me say that again, our government is saying our access to our public lands must be restricted.

    The American Motorcyclist Association believes that America’s public lands are one of our nation’s treasures and wants to protect riding areas in a responsible and permanent manner. At the same time, we are not unreasonable and recognize that some areas must be closed due to environmental reasons.

    We believe that federal land management agencies should rethink their current RMP, TMP and EIS frameworks. Typically, when revising all of these documents, the agencies start off with a “no change” alternative. As a result, access for motorized vehicles can only be cut – and all too often it is.

    Shouldn’t all new land management plans include at least one scenario in which motorized recreation is optimized?

    Think about it. What if every report the federal Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service or the National Park Service delivered included an answer to the following questions: Can there be more motorized recreation without significant environmental harm? If so, how do we achieve this? If not, where can we add recreational opportunities to offset losses without doing lasting harm?

    It seems like a fair and equitable policy to me. While we may not always like the answers we are receiving, at least the appropriate questions will be asked and answered.

    In 2014, the AMA will be asking all federal land management agencies – and key lawmakers – to support this new paradigm of resource management in order to increase recreational opportunities on America’s public lands. 

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  • DC Insider: Affordable Care Act and Motorcycling

    Lately, the news cycle in Washington, D.C. – and around the country – has been dominated by the developments surrounding the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

    Over the past several years, the American Motorcyclist Association has been actively involved in ending healthcare discrimination that occurs when insurers would not cover otherwise insured injuries simply because the participant was motorcycling when the injury occurred. In fact, some companies had formalized this into their employer-sponsored health plans in order to lower costs.

    The AMA vociferously opposed this because, as anyone can see, the policy is inherently discriminatory against a legal mode of transportation and a very popular lifestyle.

    In fact, in 2003 Colorado included a provision in state law (10-3-11-4 (f) (XII)) declaring these practices as “unfair methods of competition and unfair deceptive acts” to sell insurance that denied “health care coverage … to any individual based solely on that individual's casual or nonprofessional participation in the following activities: Motorcycling; snowmobiling; off-highway vehicle riding; skiing; or snowboarding.”

    As you may know, minimum insurance plan requirements are increasing under the ACA. Under the new requirements insurers will be unable to market policies that do not meet the stricter standards.  As a result, many insurance plans will be required to provide an increased level of services and options to meet the requirements.

    While the regulations and rules surrounding the ACA are still being written, interpreted and implemented, the AMA is hopeful that under this law all insurance plans will be required to cover all injuries sustained while using a motorcycle or all-terrain-vehicle for recreation, competition or as a legal mode of transportation.

    In order to ensure this is the case, the AMA recently wrote a letter to Health and Human Services Sec. Kathleen Sebelius asking if motorcycle discrimination would continue to be allowed under the ACA. As we wait for the response, the AMA’s Government Relations Department is still discussing this important issue with lawmakers at the state and federal level to ensure that all motorcycle related crashes are covered under insurance plans.

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