National and Regional News
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released its proposed rule that lifts the summertime ban on higher-ethanol blends of gasoline, particularly E15, which contains 50 percent more ethanol than the common E10. A ban on E15 has been in place during warmer months across most of the country, because the EPA determined it contributes to smog in hot weather. The AMA opposes the increased availability of E15, because use of the fuel is illegal in motorcycles and ATVs, none of which are certified by the EPA to operate on fuel blends containing more than 10 percent ethanol. Studies show that consumers shop for fuel by price, raising concerns that motorcyclists will inadvertently pump the cheaper E15 blends into their vehicles. Ethanol can cause damage to engines, fuel systems and exhaust components in vehicles not designed for a specific blend. At the same time, the ethanol industry launched an E15 marketing campaign that adds confusion to the issue. Growth Energy, an ethanol marketing organization, began promoting E15 as Unleaded 88 in an effort to help retailers sell more of the fuel blend. So far, Sheetz, Kwik Trip, Protec Fuels, Kum & Go, Minnoco, and Family Express have signed on. In a press release about the campaign, Growth Energy stated, "Unleaded 88 communicates the octane of the fuel in the way consumers are used to seeing it." But by emphasizing octane rating over ethanol content, this campaign could easily mislead consumers into filling their fuel tanks with a harmful mixture for their vehicles.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — President Donald Trump signed S.47, the omnibus public lands bill that designates more than 1 million acres of Wilderness and permanently reauthorizes a federal program to pay for conservation measures. The bill designates 1.3 million acres in Utah, New Mexico, Oregon and California as Wilderness, the most stringent level of federal land protection. The designation prohibits any development and bans the use of most motorized vehicles. The Utah portion of the bill includes the loss of 72 miles of roads and access for OHV enthusiasts in Emery County. The AMA opposed the Emery County bill and lobbied alongside Utah riders for it to be considered separately. However, the Utah congressional delegation and county commissioners in the state supported the bill. The bill signed by the president also:
- Adds six wilderness areas in Death Valley National Park and releases six wilderness study areas, which can now be considered for recreational uses;
- Creates Vinagre Wash Special Management Area in California’s Imperial County, Calif.;
- Allows motorized travel on currently approved routes;
- Designates a three-year period for the public to lobby the Interior Secretary for new motorized routes;
- Provides Off Highway Vehicle Recreation Area designation to five areas currently used for OHV recreation in San Bernardino County managed by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management;
- Expands the Johnson Valley Off-Highway Vehicle Recreation Area in California by 20,240 acres;
- Creates 18 wilderness areas, totaling more than 600,000 acres;
- Creates the 216,995-acre San Rafael Swell Recreation area managed by BLM, which allows motorized use;
- Creates a seven-member federal advisory board, with only one member from the motorized community; and
- Allows repairs to existing motorized routes or rerouting of existing routes for public safety or to protect resources.
PLACERVILLE, Calif. —The seasonal closure of native dirt roads and motorized trails in the Eldorado National Forest has been extended to April 15. Rainfall, soil moisture, road and trail conditions, and weather forecasts are factors that trigger extending the seasonal closure beyond March 31. The seasonal closure is designed to protect roadbeds and watersheds from damage and to protect water quality. The seasonal closure does not affect routes in the Rock Creek Area near Georgetown, which has its own wet weather route closure process.
DENVER — Colorado’s “Volunteer Service Act,” which would provide liability protection for agencies and organizations using volunteer labor for work on public lands has passed the state House and Senate. Backed by the AMA and the Colorado Off-Highway Vehicle Coalition, the act strengthens the legal protections under the federal “Volunteer Protection Act of 1997" and covers individual volunteers and nonprofit groups who build or maintain recreational trails and related facilities pursuant to grants received under Colorado’s "Recreational Trails System Act of 1971." Groups previously had difficulty securing adequate liability insurance and completing the work within the timeframes outlined in their grant awards.
THOMASTON, Conn. — More than 150 dirt bike riders showed up to voice their concern over a proposal that could disrupt riding at Thomaston Dam, the state's only riding area. Steve Salisbury of the AMA and representatives of the New England Trail Rider Association were among those urging planners to situate a segment of the planned Naugatuck River Greenway Trail on the east side of the Naugatuck River, leaving the riding trails undisturbed.
MANCHESTER, Iowa — The Delaware County Roads-to-Trails ATV/UTV Club has received a $5,000 grant from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources for the creation of an ATV riding area in a Delaware County park. The club is partnering with the Delaware County Board of Supervisors and the Delaware County Conservation Board. The grant is expected to pay for a professional designer who would develop a trail in either Turtle Creek Park or Fountain Springs Park.
COLEBROOK, N.H. — Voters in three New Hampshire towns defeated or delayed petitions calling for a ban on ATVs on town roads. The Union Leader reported that Colebrook voters rejected the ban, 227-52. Pittsburg defeated it 166-54. And Stewartstown voted 92-26 to table the matter. Chamber of Commerce officials believe ATV riders provide a boost to the local economies. But some residents object to the presence of ATVs on town roads, particularly near the Ride The Wilds system, which provides 1,000 miles of trails for motorized use. In Gorham, people who live near a Ride The Wilds trailhead sued the state and town to move or remove it, citing noise, fumes and dirt that they say reduce property values and affect their quality of life, the Union Leader reported. ATV supporters said people using the trail system have contributed greatly to state revenue and that the value of property along the trails have increased significantly since Ride The Wilds opened in 2013. Several towns allow riders to use public streets to access fuel, food and services.
ALBANY, N.Y. — Assembly Member Félix W. Ortiz (D-Kings) introduced A.B. 6080, which would exempt all motorcycles from congestion pricing program fees, if such a program is adopted. Current and past congestion pricing proposals for New York City would have charged motorcycles the same amounts as cars and trucks. The AMA is urging New York riders to write to their New York State Assembly members in support of this commonsense legislation that recognizes the benefits of motorcycling for city traffic. At the same time, state leaders are ironing out the details on a congestion pricing plan for Manhattan. The New York Times reported that "The proceeds from congestion pricing are expected to enable the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which operates the city’s public transit network, to raise billions of dollars in bonds to modernize the antiquated subway."
HARRISBURG, Pa. — The state House of Representatives unanimously passed legislation to toughen penalties for driving a motorcycle without the proper license. H.B. 384 would increase the fine from $25 to $200, plus fees and surcharges. Bill sponsor, state Rep. Josh Kail (R-Beaver/Washington), said the state has large numbers of riders operating motorcycles and other vehicles without the proper license, posing a danger to the rider and other motorists and pedestrians. Kail said his legislation would bring the penalty more in line with the seriousness of the violation.
AUSTIN, Texas — Mike Sayre, AMA government affairs manager for on-highway issues, gave a presentation at the Texas Motorcycle Safety Forum in March. His discussion focused on the federal Motorcyclist Advisory Council, which he chairs. As directed by Congress, the MAC’s task is to provide advice and recommendations concerning infrastructure issues related to motorcyclist safety to the Federal Highway Administration. Sayre also met with AMA State Chapter coordinator Jude Schexnyder and discussed issues facing Texas motorcyclists.
SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah State Legislature approved a $5 million appropriation in the state budget to help restore the Bonneville Salt Flats, home of the AMA Land Speed Grand Championship. The 10-year restoration project is estimated to cost about $50 million, with most of the total coming from the federal government. The motorsports community also will contribute. The AMA, as part of the Save the Salt Coalition, has been urging local, state and federal officials to restore the Bonneville Salt Flats, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. The coalition will now focus on ensuring that funding and commitments come from Congress and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management.
SALT LAKE CITY — Utah became the second U.S. state to formally recognize a type of lane splitting, with the governor's signature on a bill legalizing the filtering of motorcycles between lanes of stopped traffic. H.B. 149 allows motorcyclists traveling no faster than 15 mph to filter between lanes of stopped traffic traveling in the same direction on roads where the speed limit is 45 mph or less. The bill, sponsored by state Rep. Walt Brooks (R-St. George) and state Sen. David P. Hinkins (R-Orangeville), was signed by Gov. Gary Herbert on March 21. The bill takes effect May 14. There are provisions in the bill automatically repealing the law on July 1, 2022, if the legislature takes no action to extend it.
RICHMOND, Va. — The state Senate and House of Delegates passed bills prohibiting motorists from touching their cellphones while driving. The bills would allow use of hands-free mode. State law currently prohibits only reading email or text messages or manually entering letters or text in a hand-held personal communications device while driving. Drivers would still be able to operate their phones while they are parked or stopped or while reporting an emergency.
OLYMPIA, Wash. — The Washington Recreation and Conservation Office asks that statewide recreational user groups and stakeholders complete a brief survey as part of the agency's efforts to study recreational assets of statewide significance. The study is at https://rco.wa.gov/doc_pages/RASS-Study.shtml. In May and June, the agency plans to reach out to a wider group of recreation stakeholders to include federal, state and local agencies and tribes and some regional organizations. Also, the RCO plans to post maps and reports and ask the public to comment on them.
JACKSON, Wyo. — Forty-four miles of officially recognized motorized trails are planned for the Salt River Range in Wyoming to replace a series of illegal roads and trails used by the OHV community. Officials of the Bridger-Teton National Forest agreed to provide 26 miles of new trails for side-by-sides, 14 miles for dirt bikes and 4 miles for any vehicles. The routes will be closed Dec. 1 to June 30 each year to protect elk habitat during calving and fawning seasons. The new motorized trails and roads will be built in cooperation with the Wyoming Trails Program.
LOS ANGELES — The Petersen Museum, the Motorcycle Arts Foundation and Harley-Davidson are opening an all-electric motorcycle exhibition April 4. The motorcycle exhibit, part of Petersen's "Electric Revolution," is a response to the rapid expansion of the electric-vehicle market. "E-bikes are the hottest sector of new-tech transportation, as dozens of small, tech-oriented companies vie for the top spots in a wide-open field," according to a Petersen Museum press release. "'Electric Revolution' will explore the history and current state of the electric industry, seen through the handiwork of both visionary home-builders and established manufacturers, with ultra-stylish contemporary designs that point the way to the future."
NEW YORK — AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer Erik Buell has launched a new brand, Fuell, that offers electric bicycles and motorcycles. Fuell plans to begin accepting orders in April at its website (https://fuell.us). Delivery of the Fluid e-bike is planned later this year. The Flow electric motorcycle will have first deliveries in early 2021. Buell, a former Harley-Davidson engineer, founded Buell Motorcycle Company in 1983. It merged with Harley-Davidson in 1993 and Harley produced Buell-branded motorcycles until 2009. Buell also worked with Schwinn in the 1990s to develop full-suspension mountain bikes. Buell's partners in Fuell are Frederic Vasseur, a French motorsport engineer and team manager, and François-Xavier Terny, a French entrepreneur and investor.
MILWAUKEE — Harley-Davidson Inc. has bought StaCyc Inc., the producer of the 12 and 16 Edrive electric two-wheelers for children. Harley-Davidson previously announced plans to launch its LiveWire electric motorcycle in fall of 2019 and future lightweight and middleweight electric motorcycles starting in 2021. The company said StaCyc electric two-wheelers will provide an entry point for the youngest riders.
PICKERINGTON, Ohio —AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer Arlen Ness passed away on March 22 at age 79. He is best known for his innovative and wild custom motorcycle designs and custom parts business, and often was called "The King of Custom Motorcycles." Ness' custom bikes were known for their low-slung, stretched-out look. His trendsetting designs have been studied and copied by other bike builders and factory engineers. He was among the first people in the motorcycle industry to recognize the value of CNC machining technology in the production of aftermarket motorcycle parts. Ness was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 1992. In 2008, the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame honored Ness' contributions to motorcycling with "Awesome-Ness," an exhibit that featured memorabilia and motorcycles, including "Untouchable" and 10 other custom motorcycles from Ness' personal collection.
PICKERINGTON, Ohio — Three-time AMA Grand National Champion and AMA Superbike champion Bubba Shobert will be the Grand Marshal of this year's AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days, featuring Honda, on July 5-7, 2019 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio. As a longtime factory Honda rider and one of the winningest racers in professional motorcycle competition, Shobert is an ideal choice for this year's AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days, featuring Honda, which will not only celebrate the 50th anniversary of Honda's legendary 1969 CB750 but also the 40th anniversary of the six-cylinder CBX and the 60th anniversary of American Honda Motor Co.'s presence in the United States. On hand to thrill race fans will be Shobert's factory Honda RS750, owned by American Honda, and his 1988 VFR750 championship-winning Superbike, owned by Superbike collector extraordinaire Brian O'Shea. Weather permitting, Shobert will ride the VFR750 around the road race course as he leads the Lap for History—a ride that fans can participate in with a small donation to the Hall of Fame. In addition to the RS750, American Honda will be on hand with a variety of classic and new-bike displays, all of which will highlight the company's significance to American motorcycling, particularly the advent in 1969 of the legendary CB750 Four. Expect CB750-oriented clubs, restorers and fans to help highlight possibly the most important production motorcycle in history. AMA members can purchase discounted tickets now at www.amavintagemotorcycledays.com. All camping and RV passes, as well as non-AMA member ticket sales, are available now at www.mid-ohio.com.
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