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  • Washington is hearing from motorcyclists!

    The American Motorcyclist Association is keeping the pressure on Washington when it comes to choice for access to safe fuels.

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency is proposing to increase the amount of ethanol in our fuel supply through the Renewable Fuel Standard. As you know, if this proposal is adopted, it would increase the risk of inadvertent misfueling for motorcyclists and all-terrain-vehicle riders by forcing the widespread availability of higher-ethanol fuel blends, such as E15 – fuel with 15 percent ethanol by volume. In turn, it decreases the availability of E0, fuel that has no ethanol added, and E10, which is covered by manufacturers’ warranty.

    AMA members and others concerned with unsafe fuels are acting to voice their concerns with the EPA and Congress.

    Thanks to your efforts, the elected officials and agency chiefs in Washington know that we do not approve of their actions.

    Here are the impressive numbers generated by motorcyclists in recent weeks:

    a) 23,571 petition signatures
    b) 7,341 emails to Congress
    c) More than 365,000 emails sent from the AMA to advocates

    If you have not signed the AMA petition to protect your choice to access safe fuels, please go to https://cqrcengage.com/amacycle/app/sign-petition?2&engagementId=108574.

    Again, thank you from the AMA for taking action!

    Join the AMA—it’s where riders belong.

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  • Why All Motorcyclists Need Your Support

    It takes all of us, working together, to protect our rights as motorcyclists, no matter what type of riding we do.

    Chances are you receive many email alerts from the American Motorcyclist Association each and every year. This year, the government relations team has sent a record number, in our ongoing effort to keep you informed on the most pressing issues facing motorcycling and the motorcycle lifestyle.

    We focus on segmenting these emails, so you receive information directly related to issues in your area and based on your particular interest in motorcycling, whether it be on-highway or off.

    To better serve the membership, we have implemented a series of banners that appear at the top of our email alerts identifying each based on select categories. Some of the most common categories are:

    • Federal Action Alerts
    • State Action Alerts
    • Local Action Alerts
    • Meeting Notices
    • Informational Alerts

    We understand that you do not want your inbox cluttered with emails on topics that don’t interest you. If you are a recreational rider, your top priority might be riding the open road with friends. If you are racer, your top priority might be your next competition. You may be concerned with the dirt bike ban in the county next to you or the closing of public lands in your neighboring state.

    However, all of these topics affect the motorcycle lifestyle and the future of motorcycling. It is important to take action on all of the email alerts that you receive, even if it appears to be  outside your immediate area of interest or geographic location.

    We need you to help preserve the motorcycle lifestyle for fellow riders and future generations. If you finish your racing career, continue your membership to afford others the same opportunities. Dirt bike bans threaten the ability of racers to practice and continue their sport, just as discriminatory motorcycle-only checkpoints harm street motorcyclists’ ability to ride.

    Threats to the motorcycle lifestyle and the motorcycling community affect everyone and must be addressed with a unified response.  The AMA does that, with your help.

    There are many voices in the motorcycling community, but the one with the loudest megaphone is the AMA, because of our rich history and active members willing to voice their concerns. The next time you receive an email alert, keep in mind that the right to ride is universal and all of us need your support.

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  • Government “knows what’s best” for motorcyclists


    In this case, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency believes it knows what type of fuel is best for your motorcycle.

    On May 29, the EPA proposed setting the renewable fuel standard for 2014 at the levels that were actually produced and used, which totaled 15.93 billion gallons. But for 2015, the standard rises to 16.3 billion gallons. And for 2016, the total increases again, to 17.4 billion gallons.

    The corn-ethanol volumes would be 13.25 billion gallons for 2014, 13.4 billion gallons in 2015 and 14 billion gallons in 2016.

    By now you are asking, “How do these fuel mandates affect my ride?”

    The practical effect of the EPA’s action is that ethanol production will exceed the “blend wall,” the point at which no more ethanol can be mixed into the nation’s fuel supply without resulting in blends higher than 10 percent. That means more E15 and less E10/E0 on the market.

    It is apparent that the EPA’s proposed rule does not consider the concerns of motorcyclists and all-terrain-vehicle owners, despite knowing that none of the estimated 22 million motorcycles and ATVs in use in the United States is approved to use E15 or higher ethanol blends.

    What does the EPA propose to ensure the sale E15 increases?

    The proposed rule calls for stakeholders to overcome market barriers to expand the use of renewable fuels to meet the 2016 fuel mandate by:

    •“Increasing the number of retail stations offering E15 and E85 through direct installation of new equipment or providing grants to retail owners, and locating stations offering E15/E85 closest to higher populations of vehicles that can use those fuels” and
    •“Developing contractual mechanisms to ensure favorable pricing of E15 and E85 at retail compared to E10 to boost sales volumes” (emphasis added)

    In other words, the EPA is proposing federal grants and price controls to increase amount of the higher-than-E10-ethanol blended fuels into the marketplace.

    The AMA strongly disagrees with this approach. Instead, the market should dictate demand and let the consumer choose the proper fuel for each vehicle. These government mandates will lead to more inadvertent misfueling and, very likely, engine and fuel system damage to countless motorcycles and ATVs not designed for E15 use.

    Does the EPA address the misfueling concern for motorcyclists in its proposed rule?

    The EPA responded once to our concerns. If you think by addressing the AMA’s most important concern just one time is sufficient, then the EPA did a bang up job. Otherwise, read on.

    The EPA only mentioned misfueling once as part of a run-on sentence in its proposed rule. The rule states: “…in June of 2011, the EPA finalized regulations to prevent misfueling of vehicles, engines, and equipment not covered by the partial waiver decisions.”

    This is the same misfueling mitigation plan that initially mandated a four-gallon minimum fuel purchase to address the concerns raised by the AMA. It was eventually revised in 2013 to the current plan, but it is still easily misunderstood, misapplied or ignored by state governments and producers, distributors and vendors.

    With the misunderstood and unenforced misfueling plan and the proliferation of E15 in the marketplace, especially through blender pumps, motorcyclists and ATV riders face an increased risk of unknowingly fueling their vehicles with a blend higher than the federally approved E10.

    It appears the government shows it “knows what is best” by mandating the type of fuel produced, the amount produced and the methods of distribution, all to increase sales of a fuel that 22 million motorcyclists and ATV users can’t – and definitely should not -- use.

    Does anyone think this makes sense?

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  • Federal Agencies Hosing Motorcyclists at Both Ends

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency hosed motorcyclists by announcing the Renewable Fuel Standard proposal that would increase the risk of inadvertent misfueling for motorcyclists and all-terrain-vehicle owners by forcing the widespread availability of higher-ethanol fuel blends, such as E15.

    Then, the U.S. Department of Agriculture hosed motorcyclists by unveiling a $100 million slush fund to double the number of higher-blend renewable-fuel pumps. Under the blender pump subsidy program, the USDA will administer competitive grants to match funding for state-led efforts to test and evaluate innovative and comprehensive approaches to market higher blends of renewable fuel, such as E15 and E85.

    Here is the kicker.

    The EPA calls for higher ethanol blended fuels, and the USDA spends taxpayer dollars to make it happen, on the same day. I liken this regulatory tsunami to taking a one-two punch to the gut and having to say, “Thanks, I want more.”

    Was it coincidence?

    Our government took these actions despite knowing that none of the estimated 22 million motorcycles and ATVs in use in the United States is approved to use E15 or higher ethanol blends. Using those fuels in motorcycles and ATVs is illegal and may cause engine and fuel system damage and void the manufacturer's warranty.

    Had it with being hosed? Join the AMA—it’s where riders belong!


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  • All Politics is Local?

    Former U.S. Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill is credited for coining the phrase “All politics is local,” and local AMA members are proving that his observation has merit.

    At the American Motorcyclist Association, we believe the power of local advocates is our greatest resource in the fight to promote the motorcycle lifestyle and protect the future of motorcycling. To highlight the relationship between the AMA and local advocates, we launched the “Local Action Center.” The Local Action Center is intended to:

    Highlight AMA members and staff working together on local issues
    At any given time, members can see snippets of events in which the AMA is actively involved or recently was successful at the local level. If you hover over an icon on the page, a description of the involvement by AMA members and staff will appear.

    Showcase the breadth and depth of the AMA
    The AMA works on many issues at the local level, from places like Livermore, Calif., to Coos County, N.H. and everywhere in between. While AMA staff members cannot attend every local meeting or write letters supporting or opposing every local ordinance, we have been very active in many localities all over the country. The grassroots activism of the AMA membership has multiplied our efforts at this level.

    Differentiate local alerts and state alerts
    Understanding how government works is confusing enough and, unfortunately, many organizations combine state and local activities. We want to build greater civic understanding among AMA members so our members know how to communicate with government, at the appropriate level and in the proper office. This year, we created new banners for our email AMA Action Alerts to notify members whether the issue was federal, state or local. Ultimately, we hope to increase the understanding of the government process and build the civic capital of our membership.

    Create a page that targets local government where the public trust is the highest
    Statistically, Americans trust local and state government more than they trust the federal government. In fact, Gallup polls show the Congressional approval rating in 2014 was 15 percent, while trust in state government was 62 percent and trust in local government was 72 percent. Trusting in government means, in part, being confident that government respects your views, opinions and feedback and will act on them. The AMA wants to ensure that you have an effective platform to use to communicate with local officials -- with whom you have more access to and can connect with on a more personable level as an average community member who happens to be a motorcycle enthusiast.

    Dispel the myth that the AMA is solely a federal advocacy organization
     The AMA takes pride in representing motorcyclists at the local, state, federal and international level. The AMA has had some big wins on issues like the “Lead Law” and is the leading voice on current issues like E15 fuel. But the AMA also is concerned with motorcycle tolls and parking rates in your town.

    Provide an additional outlet to communicate with government
    All of the AMA Action Alerts pertaining to local political activity will appear on this central page. In addition to receiving a local email action alert, you will have the opportunity to view the action alert on the AMA website and view other local activities that may provide insight on the issue going on in your area.

    In addition to these local tools, the AMA will continue to provide valuable resources at the federal and state level and search for new ways for you to interact with your elected officials and communicate to them the value of the motorcycle lifestyle.

     If you have a local issue and need assistance, please contact our grassroots team at (202) 742-4310 or grassroots@ama-cycle.org.


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  • Lane Splitting

    2015 has become the year of lane splitting (also called lane sharing and white lining in some places). Riders across the United States have been contacting the AMA expressing their desire to learn more about this somewhat controversial -- yet well documented -- riding technique.

    Several bills in have been introduced this year, including in Oregon, Washington, California, Tennessee and Texas. While some of these bills will undoubtedly fail to be enacted this session (or be amended to the point where the AMA cannot support them), a bigger question remains: How and why do riders often feel so strongly about lane splitting?

    Within the road-riding community, perhaps no single issue (other than helmet laws) provokes as strong a response as lane splitting. Riders typically fall into two camps: Those who are convinced it is dangerous (and often have never done it) and those who see it as yet another advantage of riding, especially in congested urban areas and during rush hour commuting.

    Lane splitting, long employed in much of Europe, South America and Asia, is often misunderstood. We encourage AMA members to review and understand the issue before deciding for themselves. The AMA position on this subject (and other important ones) can be reviewed at: http://www.americanmotorcyclist.com/rights/positionstatements.

    However you feel about the subject, we would remind all of our members that lane splitting is simply a choice that some riders will continue to make, and, in those instances where it is allowed (or under consideration), we hope every member will see the value in supporting that decision. Dividing ourselves is a sure recipe for failure and will ultimately result in non-riders making important decisions that will negatively affect all of us.

    Ride Safely!

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  • Sustainable Off Road Means Access Education

    Before joining the AMA staff, I had jobs in land management and powersports retail. An odd mix perhaps, but it was perfect training for my current AMA role.

    Often, I had conversations with off-highway vehicle riders who were buying their first bike after a long break and whose primary thought was where they could ride it. Maybe it was a trail they’d just seen or heard about or, more commonly, the place where they’d last ridden many years years ago. The new or returning riders gave scant thought to whether the trails they had their eye on -- public or private -- were legally accessible or what permits or permissions would be needed to ride there.

    More recently, I swallowed hard when an AMA member knowledgeable about access described the AMA’s advocacy efforts as “western focused” and oriented toward “federal access.” He dismissed our efforts as irrelevant to him on the East Coast.

    Soon after that conversation, another AMA member contacted me for help after he’d been cited for riding illegally on federal land in an eastern national forest. He wanted to better understand the charges he faced and the rules they were based on.

    The lessons for us in these encounters are:

    • East or West, public land or private, land-access realities have changed and continue to evolve.

    • Federal policies affect all riders, especially those using public lands. And, sometimes, decisions made in one locale are cited as precedents or models for future decisions in other jurisdictions, including states.

    • It is important, and admittedly involved, for today’s OHV riders to know all the access rules.

    • Consequences of making land-access assumptions can easily ruin an otherwise carefully planned trip and, much more significantly, cause the permanent loss of a favorite riding area for everyone.

    The AMA works hard to communicate the importance of being aware of and involved in access issues where you ride and beyond. Through our magazine, American Motorcyclist, AMA Action Alerts, the AMA Extra e-newsletters, the monthly AMA News & Notes and our website, www.americanmotorcyclist.com[PT1] /rights, we provide you with the most current information available on the most important issues.

    The U.S. Forest Service’s public hearings, federal and state motor vehicle use maps and “Call Before You Haul” programs are all great ways for OHV enthusiasts to remain aware of access rules.  Local clubs are often the best source of information on legal access to private lands. 

    With the off-highway-riding season at one of its seasonal peaks -- between the cold winters in the North and the oppressive summer heat in the South -- we strongly encourage you to ensure your knowledge is current on land-access rules where you ride. While you are at it, educate yourself on the broader access issues and efforts in your area.

    If you need help with the particulars in your local riding area, please contact the AMA at grassroots@amacycle.org for assistance.


     [PT1]Be sure to hyperlink these

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  • Making Change Happen: Grassroots Advocates and Coordinators

    All too often the idea of lobbying conjures up images of golf outings, steak dinners and the excesses of Jack Abramoff. Fundraisers and events can be a part of an organization’s overall advocacy strategy. But this component represents a small portion of the time devoted to supporting or opposing legislation.

    In reality, the American Motorcyclist Association spends its time educating our members about policy priorities, tracking legislation and working on member inquiries. Direct lobbying is appropriate only when the correct dosage of grassroots advocacy already has been applied.

    Successful grassroots advocacy builds coalitions, bolsters political participation, promotes a variety of causes and fosters a civic-learning environment. By its very nature, grassroots advocacy is a positive social good that helps people communicate with government more effectively.

    In the, AMA, the core of our grassroots advocacy strategy is leveraging the strength of our membership and conveying members’ views through strategic communication, both online and offline.

    It is always more compelling for a lawmaker to hear the story of a citizen-motorcyclist than a paid AMA staff person. On rider education, distracted and inattentive vehicle operation and many other issues, the AMA could not be on the forefront of policy debates without the loud and clear voices of our members.

    While grassroots advocacy must communicate the experiences and desires of our members, how exactly does the grassroots coordinator fit in? Working behind the scenes, the AMA grassroots coordinator is an experienced organizer who wears a number of hats. Such as:

    • Translator — Translating and processing the message of advocates in the proper format to ensure that the information is received and understood by elected officials.

    • Technologist — Updating the AMA website and social media platforms to create interactive content  that ensures members receive accurate and timely information on web, mobile and tablet devices.

    • Civics teacher — Teaching advocates the basics about government and the legislative process; crafting informational alerts, preparing guides, hosting webinars and in-person training to better equip advocates to communicate with elected officials.

    • Cheerleader/drill sergeant — Activating the AMA membership is a core function of a successful grassroots program. Elected officials need to hear from our members and the grassroots coordinator measures and analyzes the reach and effectiveness of their messages. If members are responding to AMA calls to action, the coordinator cheers the results and lets the members know their efforts are successful. If calls to action go unanswered, it might be appropriate for the coordinator to take the role of a drill sergeant and craft a clearer message highlighting the importance of AMA members’ responses.

    • Mentor -- The grassroots coordinator can even go into the field and meet with members face to face at events, town halls or public meetings.

    While there is no clear recipe for advocacy, successful engagement with legislators relies on the willingness and persuasiveness of our AMA members and the organizational skills of the grassroots coordinator. Working as a team, the results can exceed everyone’s expectations. 

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  • R(S)VP: Responding to the misinformation about higher ethanol blends


    Your reservations are justified when it comes to E15, a fuel blend with as much as 15 percent ethanol in your gasoline. E15 represents a 50 percent increase in ethanol, compared to the regular E10 found at most service stations across the country.

    For years, the American Motorcyclist Association has been warning legislators and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of the dangers of motorcyclists and ATV owners inadvertently pumping E15 or higher ethanol blends into their tanks.

    In fact, none of the estimated 22 million motorcycles and ATVs currently in operation is approved for E15 use.

    But you may say, “I know what fuel to put in my ride!”

    We are sure you do. And yet you may end up with some E15 in your fuel tank anyway, causing costly fuel system or engine damage. Even voiding your warranty. How can that be?

    Because some service stations are using labels on their fuel pumps that can be confusing, at best. And some blender pumps may have E15 left over in the hose when you select your preferred blend. So as careful as you are, you could inadvertently misfuel your vehicle with some fuel greater than 10 percent ethanol (E10).

    According to federal regulations, E15 may be sold legally during the summer months if the pump label meets EPA regulations and care is taken to ensure that the Reid Vapor Pressure does not exceed federal standards.

    The AMA clued you in about RVP in an earlier blog post.

    But, briefly, RVP measurement is used by the EPA to regulate the vapor pressure of gasoline sold at retail stations during the summer ozone season (June 1 to September 15). The goal is to reduce evaporative emissions from gasoline that contribute to ground-level ozone and diminish the effects of ozone-related health problems.

    And yet it appears that some fuel retailers have relabeled E15 as flex-fuel. According to a letter from the American Fuel & Petrochemical Manufacturers and American Petroleum Institute, “The attempt to label and sell E15 as ‘flex-fuel’ is an unlawful attempt to bypass the existing RVP regulatory requirements. If this labeling is allowed, then theoretically, the same logic could apply to virtually any blend of ethanol and gasoline, such as E10.”

    Furthermore, the same AFPM and API letter states that some labels [See Figure1] being used by fueling stations may not meet the current labeling requirements per the EPA misfueling mitigation plan.[1]

    Confused yet?

    Changing the labeling creates even more confusion with an already confusing issue and raises the risk that some of us, no matter how much we know, will unintentionally pump E15 or higher ethanol blends into our fuel tanks.

    It’s bad enough that our engines are not built for E15, but now — adding insult to injury — the EPA says we are violating the law even if we unintentionally pump some of it into our bikes and ATVs!

    The AMA recently sent another letter to the EPA reiterating our concerns and also asked the agency to issue an Enforcement Alert concerning the improper relabeling of E15 as a flex-fuel.

    We will keep you up to date as more information becomes available. Meanwhile, be vigilant when refueling your ride. Be sure you are using the fuel your vehicle manufacturer recommends.


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  • Distracted Driving

    With motorcycles located in the cooler climates coming out of the garage and more riders taking to the roads, we at the AMA are getting more inquiries regarding distracted driving and how to effectively fight back.

    The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that “driver inattention is the leading factor in most crashes and near-crashes,” and “nearly 80 percent of crashes and 65 percent of near-crashes involved some form of driver inattention within three seconds before the event.”

    The good news is that state legislators are beginning to understand the gravity of the problem and take appropriate action by increasing penalties for distracted drivers who cause serious injury or death.

    The bad news is this action often comes too late.

    Pennsylvania Rep. Jaret Gibbons (D-Beaver/Butler/Lawrence) has prepared legislation that would create new penalties for drivers who injure or kill other motorists while texting and driving. The legislation, named after Daniel Gallatin who was killed pulling into his daughter’s driveway by a motorist who was texting, already has 39 cosponsors in the state assembly.

    Similarly, legislators in Florida, Massachusetts and Texas have introduced bills that would require motorists to provide minimum clearance to vulnerable road users when passing, essentially increasing the right-of-way for motorcyclists.

    Unfortunately, legislation alone will not fix the problem of distracted drivers. Fourteen states already have a ban on using handheld devices while driving and 45 states ban texting while driving. However, even in states with these bans, motorists are still texting and talking on the phone while driving – not to mention all of the other distracting activities that drivers perform.

    What can you do to make a difference? Ensure your kids and family members are not driving while distracted. Tell your neighbors about the importance of anti-distracted driving campaigns.

    Have you had a close call with a distracted driver? Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper reminding everyone to share the road. Support legislators who support anti-distracted-driving legislation and increased motorist awareness of motorcycles.

    Most importantly, riders need to educate other motorists about the myriad forms of distracted driving. We need to remind everyone that the fact that you aren’t on your cellphone doesn’t mean you are focused on the road. Eating, drinking, adjusting the radio or GPS and engaging in personal grooming all divert attention from the road.

    We have the numbers on our side. Nearly 80 percent of crashes could potentially be avoided if all drivers focused on the road. Let’s tell fellow motorists and other lawmakers about this problem and work toward a solution.

    Ride safe!



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