National and Regional News
WASHINGTON, D.C. — WalletHub compiled its list of the best and worst states for driving in 2017. Using criteria including gas prices, congestion and 21 other data points, the company ranked Texas, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa and North Carolina the most motorist-friendly states. The worst areas for driving were Hawaii, Washington state, Maryland, California and Connecticut. The full list is available at www.wallethub.com/edu/best-worst-states-to-drive-in/43012.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Valero Energy Corp, the largest American oil refiner, has left the Renewable Fuels Association due to cost cutting, a company spokeswoman said in a statement to Reuters. Valero has been lobbying to change the federal Renewable Fuel Standard, which dictates the amount of ethanol blended into the U.S. gasoline supply each year. The company spent nearly $750 million in 2016 to buy fuel credits to meet the mandate.
SAN FRANCISCO — A motorcyclist involved in a crash with a self-driving car has sued General Motors. Motorcyclist Oscar Nilsson claims the GM Cruise Chevrolet Bolt changed lanes to the left. As he rode forward, the Bolt suddenly veered back into his lane, knocking him down. In a report GM filed with California Department of Motor Vehicles, the carmaker said the Bolt aborted the lane change and, as it was re-centering itself, Nilsson glanced the side of the car and fell over. The case was filed in the U.S. District Court in San Francisco.
BOZEMAN, Mont. — The Custer Gallatin National Forest is preparing an environmental impact statement as part of its forest plan revision and has opened a 60-day comment period that ends March 5. The revision effort is about halfway through its four-year process, and the team is seeking public comments from the public that are solution-oriented and can help to shape alternatives. The proposed action represents an interdisciplinary approach from many specialists across the forest, as well as consideration of input received from the public, other agencies, best available science and direction associated with the 2012 planning rule. The draft EIS is expected in the autumn of 2018, and the final EIS is expected in the summer of 2019. Comments may be submitted electronically online at www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=50185. Written comments should be addressed to Custer Gallatin National Forest, Attn: Forest Plan Revision Team, P.O. Box 130, Bozeman, MT 59771. Comments may also be sent via email to email@example.com with subject line: "Comment draft plan, CGNF" or via facsimile to 406-587-6758.
PIERRE, S.D. — The state Supreme Court ruled in favor of Buffalo Chip City, meaning the 2015 vote to make the Buffalo Chip Campground and surrounding area a city was valid. The ruling reverses a circuit court finding that some of those voting for incorporation did not live at listed addresses and that the vote was invalid. Campground CEO Rod Woodruff and Meade County commissioners believe the city status will improve economic conditions at Buffalo Chip. The campground has evolved over the years into a mecca of motorcyclists attending the annual Sturgis rally.
SEATTLE — State troopers are cracking down on motorists under the new distracted driving law, which is the toughest such statute in the country. The Driving Under the Influence of Electronics law provides for a $136 fine just for holding a phone while driving. Drivers are allowed to touch a phone only to answer a call or start navigation. Holding a phone is prohibited while driving and while stopped in traffic or at a light or stop sign.
MADISON, Wis. — The state Department of Natural Resources is considering a plan to increase ATV access at three properties in the Northwoods area. In September 2017, the Natural Resources Board approved a recommendation from the DNR to evaluate several amendment requests the agency has received to provide all-terrain vehicle and utility terrain vehicle access across the Upper Wolf River Fishery Area and the Turtle-Flambeau Scenic Waters Area. These trails would create linkages in the larger regional trail networks. The department has also received requests to construct a multi-use parking area at the Willow Flowage Scenic Waters Area to serve snowmobilers, ATV/UTVs, and boaters. These facilities are not currently authorized by the respective master plans for these properties. In order for the trails and parking area to be constructed, the master plans would need to be amended to allow these uses. For initial information about the amendment process, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for “master planning” and click on the link for “Northwoods amendments.” To comment, fill out the online questionnaires download the form and mail it in. Comments, either online or hardcopy, are due by Feb. 4.
LINCOLN, Neb. — A bid to repeal the state’s mandatory motorcycle helmet law failed again this session when senators voted 30-15 to stop debate. The death of the bill (L.B. 368) means all motorcyclists and passengers riding in the state must wear DOT-approved helmets. Sen. John Lowe of Kearney said he may bring the bill back in 2019.
LAS VEGAS — Honda unveiled removable battery packs for its electric two-wheelers at the Consumer Electronics Show. The Honda PCX electric scooter was unveiled in October with two removable batteries under the seat, according to www. auto.ndtv.com. Now, Honda says those Mobile Power Packs can be shared with other machines. Honda uses the same batteries to power ATVs, an autonomous four-wheeled buggy and the PCX Electric scooter. All the vehicles use various numbers of the same battery pack.
LOGAN COUNTY, Ohio — The Ohio Controlling Board is considering a request to grant about $8 million in low-interest loans to the Transportation Research Center Inc. The center in East Liberty, Ohio, has served for decades as a 4,500-acre research site where manufacturers and engineers test prototypes of the newest sports cars, motorcycles and trucks long before they’re ever unveiled to the public. According to the Springfield News-Sun, the Transportation Research Center began construction in the late 1960s to attract foreign automakers and new jobs to the state, a goal that was accomplished when Honda established a manufacturing facility nearby in the mid-1970s. But state lawmakers and other partners now see the TRC as a key asset to attract investment and even more high-tech auto research to the state.
MILWAUKEE — Harley-Davidson Motor Co. announced it will close its Kansas City, Mo., final assembly plant and move all its operations to York, Pa., by July 2019. Harley-Davidson President and CEO Matt Levatich said closing the Kansas City plant will eliminate 800 jobs. Meanwhile, 450 full-time, casual and contractor positions will be added at the company’s York facility.
WATERLOO, Ontario, Canada — Chemists at the University of Waterloo have announced a breakthrough that could boost battery performance for electric vehicles, according to a report at www.sciencedaily.com. The Waterloo team says the use of negative electrodes made of lithium metal holds the potential to dramatically increase battery storage capacity, which could triple the distance electric vehicles are able to travel on a single charge.
GURUGRAM, India — Harley-Davidson India launched the Harley-Davidson University at Capital Harley-Davidson in Gurugram. The school will train Harley service personnel to work on the latest models of the company’s motorcycles. In addition to mechanic training, employees will be offered financial management and branding courses. The school is the company’s fourth in the Asian-Pacific region.
COLUMBUS, Ohio — The AMA recognized its greatest champions and hardest-working organizers from the 2017 season on Jan. 20 during the AMA Championship Banquet at the Hilton Downtown Columbus in Columbus, Ohio. Cody Webb of Royal Oaks, Calif., was recognized as the AMA Athlete of the Year from National Championship Series competition. The 2017 AMA Athlete of the Year from Grand Championship events was Justin Cooper, AMA Motocross Horizon Award Winner and AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship. Tayla Jones, who moved to North Carolina from Australia last year, was announced as the AMA Female Racer of the Year. She was the 2017 WXC Champion from the AMSOIL AMA Grand National Cross Country Series, the Women's Pro Overall Champion from the AMA Full Gas Sprint Enduro Championship Series, and the Women's Elite Champion from the AMA National Enduro Championship Series. The 2017 AMA Vet Racer of the Year was Destry Abbott, who dominated his class in the 2017 AMA Endurocross National Championship Series. The 2017 AMA Youth Racer of the Year was Ty Masterpool, who is the Supermini 1 (12-15) Champion and Supermini 2 (13-16) Champion from the Rocky Mountain ATV/MC AMA Amateur National Motocross Championship. Top-three finishers were recognized from six regional championships and 21 national championships, representing all disciplines of AMA-sanctioned competition. More winners are listed at www.americanmotorcyclist.com/Home/News-Story/american-motorcyclist-association-honors-2017-champions.
PICKERINGTON, Ohio — Tony Moseley won reelection to the American Motorcyclist Association Board of Directors in voting that ended Jan. 15. Moseley’s challenger for the South Central Region seat was Nancy Broen of Georgetown, Texas. “The motorcycling industry provided me a living, as well as a wonderful pastime, for 30 years,” Moseley said. “I’m happy to give back to the motorcycling community in any way I can by serving a second term on the Board.” Moseley, of Fort Worth, Texas, has served on the AMA Board of Directors for three years. He is retired from Kawasaki Motors Corp. U.S.A. His term expires in 2020.
PICKERINGTON, Ohio — AMA Grand Tours, which allow riders to travel to destinations on their own schedule, are the perfect choice for motorcyclists who enjoy traveling solo or with a small group of family or friends. Participants document their visits to tour destinations with a photo or a stamp in a travel log. For 2018, the American Motorcyclist Association is highlighting six AMA Grand Tour events. "Grand Tours were added to the list of AMA-sanctioned events in 1975," said AMA Recreational Riding Manager Heather Wilson. "The tours are still as fun and relevant today as they were more than 40 years ago. Grand Tours also are a great complement to the AMA LongRider program, the AMA's mileage-recognition program for members." A complete schedule is available at www.americanmotorcyclist.com/Home/News-Story/ama-grand-tours-motorcycle-touring-for-the-individualist.
PICKERINGTON, Ohio — Two AMA Road Captain workshops are being offered April 7 at the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Museum, covering various aspects of leading a group motorcycle ride. AMA EAGLES training also will be available that day. AMA EAGLES (Education, Activism, Growth, Leadership, Expertise, Skills) is an advocacy and leadership program that empowers members with knowledge, tools and resources tailored to their interests. Through it, members learn about the AMA and become better grassroots activists, public relations representatives and membership advocates. Two road captain sessions will be presented by AMA Recreational Riding Manager Heather Wilson: a morning session from 10 a.m. to noon and an afternoon session from 1-3 p.m. To register, visit www.americanmotorcyclist.com/For-Members/AMA-Road-Captain-Workshop. AMA EAGLES workshops will be offered simultaneously, led by AMA Volunteer and State Chapters Manager Marie Wuelleh. The EAGLES workshops are from 9:30 a.m. to noon and 1-3:30 p.m. To register, visit www.americanmotorcyclist.com/For-Members/AMA-EAGLES/Story/attend-in-person-eagles-training.
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