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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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  • DC Insider: Presidential proclamation celebrating our public lands

    The proclamation starts out with a celebratory flare:

    Atop soaring mountain peaks, alongside bubbling streams, in woodlands and grasslands that stretch over rolling hills, Americans find inspiration in our great outdoors. Just as our diverse and rugged landscapes reflect our national character, the way we care for these open spaces mirrors our commitment to future generations. On National Public Lands Day, we celebrate the lands we share and gather to conserve our natural heritage.

    It makes you just want to get outdoors and ride responsibly to enjoy our public lands – right?

    Well, you may want to throttle back.

    Unless you have been away from civilization the past week, you would know that our federal government shutdown on Oct. 1.

    Why does Oct. 1 matter, and how is it relevant with the National Public Lands Day proclamation?

    Oct. 1 is the day the proclamation was published in the Federal Register and it’s the same day our federal government shut down.

    Imagine the irony.

    The President proclaims a celebration of our public lands the very same day our government shuts them down and prevents you -- the responsible rider – from enjoying them.

    It sort of defeats the purpose of a National Public Lands Day.

    It is time for common sense to reign in Washington.

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  • DC Insider: Beltway gridlock and the motorcycling community

    As Congress settles into another stretch where it appears increasingly likely few pieces of major legislation will get signed into law, I want to reflect on how this standstill could potentially affect the motorcycling community.

    Let’s start with the bad.

    The American Motorcyclist Association has been hard at work with several congressional offices to get bills passed that would require testing of E15 on motorcycles (H.R. 875 and S. 344), prevent the federal government from funding motorcycle-only-checkpoints (H.R. 1861), protect riders’ privacy (H.R. 2414) and reopen Cape Hatteras in North Carolina for responsible off-highway-vehicle use (S. 486).

    This common sense legislation has little chance of being passed by the House and Senate and enacted into law in the current hyper-partisan environment.  

    Additionally, with Congress at a standstill more and more decisions related to public lands access and highway safety are being made by unelected bureaucrats. This poses difficulties for motorcyclists because we have less influence on policies and are unable to hold decision makers responsible in the same manner as elected officials.

    Believe it or not, congressional gridlock actually has some upsides for the motorcycling community.

    Partisan bickering will prevent America’s Red Rock Wilderness Act (S. 769 and H.R. 1630), the Northern Rockies Ecosystem Protection Act (H.R. 1187), and several other large Wilderness bills from being enacted. In total, these Wilderness bills would limit responsible OHV access to an area almost the size of the State of New York, and the AMA opposes them because they do not meet the strict definition of Wilderness established by Congress in 1964.

    Additionally, Johnson Valley in California will remain open to off-highway recreationists because legislation is needed to conduct the land exchange necessary to remove  land from the federal Bureau of Land Management’s control. This will allow for the King of Hammers – along with many other events – to continue as it has in the past.

    Finally, congressional efforts to increase tolling and restrict access to HOV/HOT lanes for on-highway motorcyclists will remain dormant.

    What’s next? For the near future, it appears that gridlock in the Congress is here to stay. Whatever your politics, gridlock will effect on- and off-highway riders in some good and some not-so-good ways. The AMA government relations department will work hard to ensure the effects are positive. 

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  • DC Insider: E15 boosters attempt to mischaracterize the AMA’s ethanol position

    You have heard the old adage before: When you don’t have the facts that support your position, you attack the messenger.

    Well, this is exactly what the boosters of the untested-for-motorcycles E15 fuel blend (15 percent ethanol by volume) are doing. They are trying to mischaracterize the American Motorcyclist Association’s position as blanket opposition to ethanol.

    For example, a group promoting ethanol recently gave away free E10 gasoline to motorcyclists at Sturgis with a sign that read “Why is the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) calling out just one [E15 fuel]? Read what else is wrong with AMA’s claims on E15.”

    The latest attempt is to use the motorcycle racing community to further their agenda to get E15 into retailers across the country. The pro-E15 website provides an example of how a racing team uses E85 (85 percent ethanol by volume) in a “stock” motorcycle with a modified fueling system and that, everything works fine – which we applaud. After all, the top-speed bike was designed to operate on a high-percentage ethanol blend – and alcohol-burning racing motorcycles have been around for a long time.

    The suggestion -- that if race bikes can run on E85, why worry about E15? – is quite disingenuous because competition machines are purpose-built and do not have to conform to U.S. Environmental Protection Agency emissions standards or satisfy the durability demands of  everyday riders. Certainly an engine's internals and cooling and fuel systems can be designed to operate on high(er) levels of ethanol. But that really misses the criticism coming from the motorcycling community.

    Which is this:  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, and 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.

    It is time to set the record straight.

    1)    The AMA recognizes ethanol is one of many possible fuels. The key is that when our engines and fuel systems are designed for one type of fuel, we can't just put anything in the tank and expect there will be no problems. There has to be a ready supply of safe fuels for all motorcycles and ATVs.
    2)    The EPA has not tested E15 on motorcycle and ATV engines and does not approve of E15 for their use.
    3)    Use of E15 can void a manufacturer’s warranty.
    4)    The AMA wants an independent, scientific study on the effects of E15 on motorcycle and ATVs engines.
    5)    The AMA’s concerns has always been that riders might unintentionally put E15 in their fuel tanks due to confusing and/or unmonitored implementation of the EPA Misfueling Mitigation Plan and the possibility of residual E15 fuel left in a fuel hose, which could be as much as one-third of a gallon.

    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.

    Get the facts on this important issue with the AMA’s E15 and Motorcycles Q&A.

    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: Federal agency offers grants that may increase E15 availability and subsequent misfueling

    On Aug. 15, the U.S. Dept. of Agriculture announced the recipients of grants [i.e. taxpayer dollars] from its Rural Energy for America Program to be used for renewable energy systems. One approved use of these REAP grants is for the purchase and installation of special ethanol blender pumps.

    In order for retailers to offer E15, a blend of gasoline that includes up to 15 percent ethanol by volume, they will need to convert their current pumps to these special ethanol blender pumps.

    According to the release, the USDA will provide a total of $25,765 that will be used on two projects in Minnesota and South Dakota. It was also made known by the USDA that these two projects are only the initial recipients. In fact, they informed the AMA in a conference call that there would be an additional 11 projects announced soon.

    The REAP grants are part of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s plan to install 10,000 blender pumps by 2016. REAP will be a key component to achieve the secretary’s goal and, thus, help grow the availability of E15 fuel.

    The American Motorcyclist Association has repeatedly expressed concern about the potential damage that E15 fuel can have on motorcycle and all-terrain vehicle engines and fuel systems. For details, see

    These special ethanol blender pumps may increase inadvertent misfueling by consumers. In fact, the EPA is concerned enough to issue a plan for retailers on its website’s “E15: Misfueling Mitigation Plans” page to try to avoid misfueling by consumers.

    The AMA believes the REAP grant program to purchase special ethanol blender pumps will only worsen the possibility of E15 misfueling by consumers – a fuel that is not approved for any of the estimated 22 million motorcycles and ATVs in use.

    The AMA has you—AMA members and all motorcyclists—in mind concerning the untested effects of E15 fuel on your ride!

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  • DC Insider: Big Brother and your ride

    If you are concerned that your insurer will selectively use data from an event data recorder (commonly known as a black box) to increase your motorcycle insurance rates, or that recorded data may be used to target you in a civil or criminal proceeding, then you—the motorcyclist—should urge your U.S. Representative to support H.R. 2414, the “Black Box Privacy Protection Act.”

    U.S. Reps. Mike Capuano (D-Mass.) and Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) introduced this legislation, among other items, to protect motorcyclists’ rights. The American Motorcyclist Association protects motorcyclists’ freedom to ride and we support this bipartisan bill.

    The bill would require manufacturers to prominently disclose to consumers if a black box is installed on their motorcycle, the data collection capabilities of such a device, and how such data may be used. The bill clarifies that the owner of the motorcycle owns the data and it may not be accessed without the permission of the owner. Furthermore, this bill requires that manufacturers provide consumers with the option of controlling the recording function in automobiles or motorcycles manufactured in the future that are equipped with black boxes.

    In other words, consumers would have the ability to turn the black box on or off.

    Currently, no federal law exists that clarifies the rights of vehicle owners to ownership of the recorded data.

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking requiring black boxes be installed in all cars manufactured after Sept. 1, 2014. The NHTSA already has disclosure requirements, but the Black Box Privacy Protection Act would make the disclosure more prominent and give consumers even greater choice and privacy protections.

    Does your government need to know your riding habits? If your answer is no, then you can do something about it.

    Help us get additional cosponsors for H.R. 2414. The bipartisan bill will protect motorcyclists’ rights and clarifies that the owner of the motorcycle owns the data.

    Most importantly—It will also give you the ability to turn off the black box!

    Act now by using our alert for H.R. 2414 to send a prewritten message to send to your representative.

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