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  • DC Insider: Vehicle-to-vehicle communication technology is coming – What does it mean for motorcyclists?

    Vehicle-to-Vehicle technology, known as V2V, is coming. Recently, AMA staff met with engineers at a V2V vehicle demonstration event in Washington, D.C., to learn more about how this emerging technology will work with motorcycles.

    The event was hosted by the U.S. Department of Transportation and eight automobile manufacturers that make up Crash Avoidance Metrics Partnership Vehicle Safety Communications 3 – the group that is researching, developing and testing the technologies that form the framework for V2V systems. The car makers are Ford, General Motors, Honda, Hyundai-Kia Motors, Mercedes-Benz, Nissan, Toyota and Volkswagen.

    What makes V2V work?

    It uses dedicated short-range communications similar to Wi-Fi that is 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 the 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 U.S. DOT, information transmitted by every 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. Every automobile manufacturer will have different interfaces on how the driver and passengers will be alerted.

    How do motorcycles fit into this emerging technology?

    As envisioned, motorcycles would have the same equipment as 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.

    At the demonstration event, AMA staff participated in two scenarios involving a vehicle and motorcycle equipped with the V2V technology. They were the Blind Spot Warning and Intersection Movement Assist scenarios.

    The Blind Spot Warning alerted the car driver when the motorcycle entered the car’s blind spot with an indicator on the car’s side-view mirror, a seat vibration and audible alarm. If the driver turned the car’s turn signal on, the indicator flashed with an audible alarm to let the driver know there was a bike in the car’s path.

    The Intersection Movement Assist allows vehicles to be aware of each other even if the view is obstructed. The scientists claim that current technology that uses radar cannot be trusted in this scenario because it cannot see around curves or if the view is obstructed. The Intersection Movement Assist system works similar to the Blind Spot Warning system. The only difference is the location of the indicator lights. With the Intersection Movement Assist, LED lights flash on the car windshield the direction the approaching vehicle is traveling.

    With privacy and safety our utmost priorities, the AMA still has some areas of concern with this new technology. The U.S. DOT has stated that privacy and system security are secure. We aren’t convinced. The AMA has provided comments to the Federal Communication Commission to bring awareness that the V2V technology may be compromised with unlicensed devices, such as other Wi-Fi networks. Therefore, 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 vehicular intersections already a well-documented problem for motorcyclists, can you imagine the false sense of security that drivers may have who are 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.

    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 solutions.

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  • DC Insider: Pro-ethanol group calls E15 misfueling concerns absurd

    On June 18, boosters of the untested-for-motorcycles E15 fuel blend (15 percent ethanol by volume) issued a statement saying there is no need for misfueling concerns for motorcycles as E15 becomes available to the public. It specifically cited the American Motorcyclist Association, in part, for delaying the availability of E15 nationwide in a press conference call.

    The group insisted that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency “has seen to it that E15 is clearly labeled at fueling stations.” Additionally, the group released an E15 fact sheet for motorcyclists. The fact sheet stated that E15 is illegal to put into a motorcycle engine.

    Telling motorcyclists that E15 use is illegal completely misses the point because motorcyclists don't want to use it unless independent testing confirms it is safe. One of the AMA’s concerns has always been that riders might unintentionally put E15 in their fuel tanks due to confusing 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.

    So now, besides having serious concerns about the potential harmful effects of unsafe fuel and inadvertent misfueling, AMA members and the motorcycling community have to worry about the consequences of breaking a federal law.

    The AMA is troubled by the EPA plan for retailers to avoid inadvertent misfueling by consumers because the plan does not provide clarity to AMA members and the public. For example, it calls for yet another label on a blender pump that already has many labels. The plan does not require any physical barriers in the fueling nozzle/receptacle, as was provided when the nation transitioned from leaded to unleaded fuel. Finally, the plan calls for a single, separate E10/E0 fuel pump when E15 will be sold through a blender pump and signage directing consumers to an E10-or-lower fuel pump.

    In addition to our concerns with the EPA Misfueling Mitigation Plan, we question if every retailer selling E15 will abide by its requirements. If a retailer does not clearly label E15, a motorcyclist may inadvertently receive it, believing it is an E10 or E0 blend. If a retailer does not separate E10 from E15 in a blender pump, a motorcyclist selecting E10 can inadvertently receive more than a quart of E15 fuel leftover in the pump hose. Or if a retailer offers only a single pump with E10/E0, what options are left when the pump runs out of what is likely to be the most popular fuel offered at that station?

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

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  • DC Insider: Is E30 fuel coming to a pump near you?

    If the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has its way, then E30 fuel is coming to a gas pump near you.

    Here’s why.

    Automobile and motorcycle manufacturers must certify that the on-highway vehicles they produce will meet applicable U.S. EPA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration emissions, fuel economy and safety requirements prior to selling the vehicles. The fuel that the vehicles must use for this requirement is called the “certification fuel.”

    By administrative fiat, the EPA now proposes to change the certification fuel to E15, with an allowance for manufacturers to petition the EPA for an E30 certification. This proposal, if promulgated, will create an environment where this country will have a divided fleet of engines requiring different types of fuel.

    The current certification fuel is E0 – that is, fuel that has no ethanol content whatsoever.

    Changing the certification fuel to E15 or E30 is at odds with the 22 million motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles currently in use, not to mention the legacy fleet of cars, boats, lawnmowers, generators and hundreds of millions of small engines in commerce today. None of these vehicles and engines is designed to operate on fuel with more than 10 percent ethanol.  

    The AMA believes that the current certification fuel should not be changed to reflect what the EPA calls “forward-looking” assumptions about what “could become a major gasoline blend over the next 10-15 years,” such as E15 or E30.

    Currently, the risks of increasing E15 in the marketplace will negatively impact every American. Since the EPA used only one test to determine whether E15 is safe for vehicles before granting a waiver allowing E15 into the marketplace, the AMA urges the agency to allow for an independent scientific study of E15. We also request that motorcycles and ATVs be included in the study.

    The AMA has expressed concerns about E15 being mistakenly used and damaging engines in motorcycles and ATVs, and about the continued availability of gasoline that has no ethanol, or gasoline with only a 10 percent blend, that is safe for use in motorcycles and ATVs.

    With the EPA wanting to certify fuel at possibly E30, every motorcyclist should be very concerned.

    This is why we urge you join the American Motorcyclist Association and fellow motorcyclists at the AMA E15: “Fuel For Thought” lobby day in Washington, D.C., on June 19. The event includes a ride and a rally at the U.S. Capitol, and will educate lawmakers about the need to research the possible harmful effects of E15 fuel on motorcycle and all-terrain vehicle engines. For more information, go to

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  • DC Insider: Why buy more, you don’t use what you already own?

    It seems every time I pick up a newspaper or watch TV, I see another story about federal budget cuts and continued budget shortfalls. This is especially true for federal land management agencies such as the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service and the National Park Service.

    With budgets being cut, many – including myself – are worried how these cuts will affect access to our public lands, especially for responsible off-highway-vehicle use. This is particularly concerning because one of the most frequent reasons given by land managers for closing an OHV trail is lack of funding for trail maintenance.  

    However, we are not getting the whole story.

    As federal agencies are faced with shrinking budgets, instead of working to reduce inefficiencies and wasteful spending, the Department of Interior is attempting to expand the area it already manages. Let me say that one more time: As its budget is shrinking and federal land managers are curtailing operations, the DOI is purchasing more land!

    I am not the only one to notice this disturbing trend.

    U.S. Rep. Bob Bishop recently said, “It’s ironic that the Department of Interior can’t find money to keep normal operations at our parks, yet they always seem to have money to buy more land.”

    I find it sad. As OHV trails, campsites and visitor centers across the country are delaying opening day to save money, the DOI is trying to increase the size of its domain. We need to ask the people’s representatives in Congress to keep a close watch on the budgets of federal land agencies.

    We -- the OHV community – also need to be involved in maintaining trails and creating a proper and responsible riding environment so that federal land managers don’t have excuses for closing trails.

    We can do this in several ways. First, by following all posted rules and regulations regarding where we are allowed to ride. Second, we must always pack out what we bring in. Third, we must remain vigilant and keep our lawmakers informed when government tries to limit access to our lands for responsible recreation. Lastly, we can volunteer with the BLM, USFS and NPS to help ensure the trails we all enjoy are well maintained, safe and fun.

    The AMA is currently attempting to secure a list of trails that were closed due to lack of funds. With this information we hope to work with federal, state and local land managers and volunteers to reopen trails across the country.

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  • DC Insider: May is Motorcycle Awareness Month

    The month of May is Motorcycle Awareness Month, which is one of the most important months of the year for the safety of all road users -- especially motorcyclists.

    As the largest motorcycling rights and event-sanctioning organization in North America, the American Motorcyclist Association urges drivers to avoid crashes with motorcyclists by taking extra care and looking twice to spot motorcycles in traffic -- especially at intersections – and respect the motorcyclists' space on the road and not follow too closely.

    The AMA recognizes that distracted or inattentive driving has become a major concern for all road users. Far too many cases have been documented of motorcyclists being injured or killed as a result of other vehicle operators being distracted or inattentive.

    Recently, Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood issued voluntarily guidelines that encourage automobile manufacturers to limit the distraction risk associated with electronic devices built into their vehicles. High-tech devices designed for communications, entertainment and navigation, known as “infotainment systems,” will inevitably increase distracted driving and add to the ever-increasing number of crashes and fatalities attributable to distracted and inattentive vehicle operation.

    The AMA sent a letter applauding LaHood for issuing the guidelines to combat distracted driving because we share his view that “Distracted driving is a deadly epidemic that has devastating consequences on our nation’s roadways.”

    Responding in a letter on behalf of LaHood, the National Highway Safety Administration expressed pleasure that the AMA supports efforts to curtail distracted driving. Furthermore, the NHTSA pointed out that in-vehicle technologies distract driver attention and increase the risk to all motorists, including motorcyclists.

    To view AMA position statements on distracted and inattentive vehicle operation and rider education, as well as other subjects, visit

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  • DC Insider: Take the money and run! California to opt out of the Recreational Trails Program

    Recently, at a meeting with California Gov. Jerry Brown’s staff, the AMA learned that California intends to opt out of the federal Recreational Trails Program. This means California will spend approximately $5.7 million less on recreational trails in 2014.

    The RTP functioned as a standalone program within the federal highway trust because it is based on a user-pay/user-benefit system. All of the funding for the program came from taxes paid on gasoline by OHV users (you and I) when we filled up our gas tanks. In essence, when groups applied for grants from the program they were simply applying for their money back.

    This will no longer be the case.

    According to the governor’s proposed budget, the funds that were congressionally authorized to fund trails will be diverted to fund active transportation projects. This will include only walking and bicycling projects that will reduce greenhouse emissions.  

    Starting in 2014, Brown is asking OHV users to continue to pay the federal and state excise tax on gasoline and derive no benefit. In fact, he is telling the OHV community to fund other projects instead.

    The RTP program in California is exceptionally popular and well run. Each year RTP administrators receive more applications for grants than they can fund. Additionally, in 2011 California was recognized by the Coalition for Recreational Trails for administering the program efficiently.

    In proposing this state budget, Brown has shown how much he values the OHV community in California and surrounding states. The AMA does not plan to sit out this budget battle on the sidelines. In fact, we – along with other users of recreational trails – have begun a large grassroots campaign to get the governor to reconsider his decision to opt out of the RTP.  

    We need your help! Please send the governor a letter – you can do so by going here and clicking the “Take Action” button. Additionally, share this link with all your friends and urge them to do the same.

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  • DC Insider: Is progress being made to end motorcycle-only checkpoints?

    One word—yes.

    On May 7, U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner (R-Wis.) introduced H.R. 1861, the Stop Motorcycle Checkpoint Funding Act. The bill will protect motorcyclists’ rights and promote crash prevention as the most effective use of taxpayer money to save motorcyclists’ lives.

    The bill incorporates Sensenbrenner’s legislation (H.R. 904) introduced in the previous Congress. H.R. 904 would have prohibited the U.S. Department of Transportation from providing funds to state and local authorities for the purpose of creating motorcycle-only checkpoints.

    This bill is critical to ending the discriminatory practice of MOCs.

    To view the AMA's efforts to end motorcycle-only checkpoints, go to

    You—the motorcyclist— can count on the AMA to watch your six while you enjoy the freedom of riding.

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  • DC Insider: A Ride A Day Keeps The Doctor Away

    It turns out that riding your motorcycle can help keep your brain fit.

    A study performed by Dr. Ryuta Kawashima of the University of Tokyo demonstrated that people who rode their motorcycles daily experienced improved memory and spatial reasoning capacity.  

    The study examined three groups. One group of riders had been riding their bikes daily for an extended period of time. The second was a group of former riders who had not been on a motorcycle in over 10 years. Each group had their brains scanned while riding and performing other activities. Finally, they examined a group that did not ride a motorcycle at all.

    Interestingly, the images of each groups’ brains showed vast differences. When riding, the riders who had continuously motorcycled used the right hemisphere of the prefrontal lobe – the area associated with higher mental functions, such as speech, planning and motivation – and demonstrated higher levels of concentration. Those who had not been on a motorcycle for over 10 years did not.

    The benefits of riding more do not stop once you get off your bike. Current riders experienced higher levels of cognitive faculties. Interestingly, at the end of the study, the former riders also experienced these benefits as compared to the control group which did not motorcycle.

    These effects are vastly different that those generated from driving a car, which does not produce the same benefits. This is largely due to the fact that driving a car under normal condition does not create similar stimuli, or require the increased levels of concentration, as motorcycling.

    An added bonus, all participants reported a more positive mental state and lower levels of stress at the end of the study.

    As if you didn’t already need another reason to ride your motorcycle more!

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  • DC Insider: Bureaucrats’ Attempting to Override Congress….Again

    A few weeks ago I wrote about the Bureau of Land Management using arbitrary standards to decide when an event is considered “significant,” thus, needing to be officially “noticed” in the Federal Register. At that time my curiosity got the best of me and the AMA wrote a letter to the principle deputy director of the BLM asking for clarification. Just this week the BLM responded to the letter the AMA sent out asking for clarification.

    The BLM’s response was disappointing.    

    The BLM directed me to 40 CFR 1508.27 which, theoretically, lays out the legally binding definition of a “significant” event. The legal definition leaves much to be desired. At the end of the day, this flexible definition of a significant event gives nearly total discretion to (unelected) federal decision-makers on the ground.

    The BLM went on to say that, “Although Federal regulations do not require a comment period for environmental assessments… [we] strongly encourage public involvement, leaving the type of involvement at the discretion of the decision-maker.”

    As a result, if an unelected bureaucrat wants to make an unpopular decision he/she first gets to decide if an event is significant enough to legally warrant public comments and being noticed in the Federal Register. That same bureaucrat can then decide the level of public involvement. Since the law is so vague, any decision is difficult to appeal.

    I am not one to argue for more levels of arbitrary bureaucracy. But, the BLM, as well as all other federal land management agencies, should have quantitative measurements that apply when determining the significance of a proposed decision. These metrics should be applied to every project so the public can be involved in decisions that affect them, no matter how insignificant the federal government claims them to be. After all, our nation’s citizens and their treasured natural resources deserve nothing less.

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  • DC Insider: They are at it again

    Unelected bureaucrats are trying to restrict responsible OHV access once again.

    In 1964 Congress passed the Wilderness Act, which established the legal basis for designating federal public land as Wilderness. This important legislation was passed to protect the most pristine federal lands for future generations – certainly a noble endeavor.

    A Wilderness designation is one of the strictest forms of public land management. Once Congress designates an area as Wilderness, nearly all forms of non-pedestrian recreation are prohibited – including riding a bicycle or using a wheelbarrow. This is why, to prevent abuse, only Congress can create Wilderness.

    The AMA supports appropriate Wilderness designations that meet the criteria established by the 1964 law. Until recently, this rule was generally followed by federal land management agencies. However, as we have seen in recent years, federal agencies have increasingly attempted to limit access to public lands by creating new land-use designations that mirror Wilderness.

    However, these agencies are not seeking congressional approval to do so.

    On Dec. 22, 2010, former Interior Secretary Ken Salazar signed Secretarial Order 3310 creating a new land-use designation called "Wild Lands" that essentially allowed officials in the federal Bureau of Land Management to manage public land as if it had received a "Wilderness" land-use designation from Congress, but without requiring congressional approval. This new policy would have restricted responsible off-highway riding in the designated areas.

    When the "Wild Lands" policy first emerged, federal lawmakers called the policy a "land grab" and a blatant attempt to usurp congressional authority. The AMA agreed.  

    The AMA opposed the "Wild Lands" policy because it would restrict responsible OHV riding with little or no public input whatsoever. Fortunately, Congress asserted its authority and blocked the "Wild Lands" proposal by refusing to fund it.

    However, the fight did not end there.

    On Aug. 2, 2012, U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop (R-Utah) and U.S. Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) announced that despite a lack of funding, Wild Lands had been reincarnated within the federal Department of the Interior. Instead of designating targeted land as Wild Lands, the DOI would label them as having “Wilderness characteristics.” This was the defining language used to describe the Department of the Interior's "Wild Lands" policy.

    This de facto resurrection of the Wild Lands policy was in violation of the congressional funding moratorium that prohibits the use of appropriated funds to implement, administer, or enforce Secretarial Order 3310.

    Senators and representatives from western states were opposed to the administrative attempts to circumvent Congress.

    "Even though these proposals have already been overwhelmingly rejected, the administration is attempting to administratively put these policies in place," Hatch said. "This proposal will give Washington bureaucrats more control over the lands in Utah and across the West. It's wrong, and the Interior Department needs to stop trying to keep the public off public lands."

    "This is a prime example of why Congress must exercise vigorous oversight," said House Natural Resources Chairman Doc Hastings. "The Wild Lands policy expressly circumvents Congress' statutory authority to establish Wilderness areas."

    Now an additional threat has emerged.

    The AMA recently noticed the National Parks Service introducing the concept of “semi-primitive areas.” According to a recent draft environmental impact statement, semi-primitive areas are “areas [where] visitors would experience a more natural setting with an opportunity for solitude away from roads…semi-primitive zone[s]…could be accessed by visitors using only nonmotorized means.”

    The BLM has a similar definition, though less restrictive – motorized uses are allowed but kept to a minimum to protect a natural looking environment with only subtle evidence of man-made structures.

    This sounds like Wilderness Lite to me.

    The AMA is concerned that this designation will be used to ultimately limit – or even end -- OHV use on public lands. In the DEIS cited above, the NPS has stated that its goal is to increase the level of funding for these semi-primitive and rural zones to make certain national parks a destination for non-motorized activities.

    Opponents of motorized recreation want to eliminate OHV use so that Wilderness characteristics can return to an area. If this happens, the agencies can then use language lifted from Secretarial Order 3310 to designate an area as having Wilderness characteristics. While the DOI has insisted this will not affect land-use within an area, this designation will be taken into account when designing future resource management plans and DEISs.

    This is another example of federal agencies trying to do an end run around Congress to limit OHV access. Wilderness designation, because of the strict limitations that accompany it, is supposed to be difficult to obtain. Designating areas as semi-primitive is one administrative step closer to designating the land as having Wilderness characteristics. In turn, this is one step closer to a de facto Wilderness designation.

    Because the restrictions in Wilderness are so great, only Congress should have the authority to designate it. What the agencies are trying to do is rule by administrative fiat, without utilizing public input.  

    The American Motorcyclist Association opposes all of these administrative land-use designations because they can restrict responsible OHV riding.

    Please join us in working together to defeat these proposals and any that are certain to follow. More members means more clout against our opponents, and your support will help the AMA fight for your rights – on the road, trail, racetrack, and in the halls of government. To join, go to

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