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AMA News and Notes: December 2013

December 02, 2013

AMA News & Notes is a monthly publication compiled and edited by the American Motorcyclist Association Government Relations Department. Designed to inform motorcyclists of rights-related issues and events in the United States and around the world, AMA News & Notes welcomes your input. Suggestions and editorial contributions can be sent to AMA Western States Representative Nick Haris at nharis@ama-cycle.org.

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            Washington D.C.: The AMA is seeking a meeting with the head of the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to find out whether the agency is trying to reduce motorcycle ridership by pursuing a federal mandatory motorcycle helmet law.

            The meeting request, made by AMA Vice President for Government Relations Wayne Allard in a Nov. 22 letter to CDC Director Tom Frieden, was made a day after U.S. Rep. Tim Walberg (R-Mich.) sent a letter to Frieden expressing concerns over the same issue. Walberg's Nov. 21 letter questions the work of a CDC advisory group called the Community Preventative Services Task Force and refers to a presentation at a task force meeting in October 2013.

            In his letter, Allard repeated a question asked by Walberg: "Is it the goal or strategy of the CDC to reduce the use of motorcycle -- a legal mode of transportation - by recommending and pursuing a federal helmet law?

            "With the safety of motorcyclists the utmost priority of the AMA, we are willing to work with all stakeholders, including the CDC, to promote rider education and training, as well as motorist awareness programs. These are effective strategies to reduce motorcycle crashes from ever occurring. Whereas, universal motorcycle helmet laws do nothing to prevent crashes," Allard wrote.

The CDC, which is part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, is headquartered in Atlanta.

            The AMA strongly advocates helmet use but believes that adult riders, not governments, should make the choice whether or not to wear a helmet. Mandatory helmet laws do nothing to prevent crashes. The AMA supports actions that help riders avoid a crash from occurring, including voluntary rider education, improved licensing and testing, and expanded motorist awareness programs.

            Like Rep. Walberg, the AMA questions what expertise and authority the CDC and its task force have in the traffic safety arena. Motorcycling is not a disease to be cured. It is a legitimate means of transportation and recreation enjoyed by an estimated 11 million Americans.

            The AMA has prepared an FAQ on the issue to provide the motorcycling community with the most current information.

            Washington D.C.: The U.S. Forest Service now offers access to variety of visitor maps for people using Android and iOS devices. The digital maps are part of USDA's work toward reaching President Obama's initiative to create a paperless government that also provides the American public with better, more accessible information. The Forest Service is currently working on the first phase of a website redesign, expected to debut early in 2014, which centers on a map-based tool for planning trips onto our nation's forests, grasslands and other special places.

            In areas of national forests and grasslands where Internet connections are unavailable, the app and static maps work well if users download the maps prior to their visit. The apps and maps also will be useful for wildland firefighters.

            In geographic areas with Internet availability, users will be able to use the products with live data. The interactive map is expected to be available on a limited basis starting in March 2014. The USFS’s seven regions are tasked with uploading maps. Users should contact the regional office where a forest or grassland is located if maps are not available on the app. Paper maps are still available for purchase online at the National Forest Store.

            Boise, Idaho: Because of a court-ordered settlement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has until 2015 to make a final determination on listing the Greater Sage-Grouse under the Endangered Species Act. State wildlife management agencies, along with the federal Bureau of Land Management and USFS, which administer most federal lands in the West, are taking unprecedented steps to ensure the conservation of the Greater Sage-Grouse.

            The Draft Land Use Plan Amendment/Draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for the Idaho-Southwestern Montana sub region is now available at http://www.blm.gov/id/st/en/prog/nepa_register/sage-grouse_rmp_revision.html. The publication of the Draft LUPA/DEIS begins a 90-day public comment period that will conclude on January 29, 2014.

            The BLM, working jointly with the USFS, is preparing an EIS to address the effects of implementing proposed Greater Sage-Grouse conservation measures on the lands they manage. These EISs will use both localized data to assist in designing the most effective local conservation strategies and less-detailed regional data to help ensure that the agencies can accurately compare conservation approaches west-wide.      

            For more information on the National Greater Sage-Grouse Planning Strategy, and the progress in other subregions, visit http://www.blm.gov/sagegrouse.

            A series of seven open houses will be held to present information and answer questions on the Draft LUPA/DEIS. For more information on meeting dates and locations, visit http://www.blm.gov/id/st/en/prog/nepa_register/sage-grouse_rmp_revision.html

            Redding, Calif.: American Trails sponsors an annual contest for photographs of National Recreation Trails across the country. The contest provides awards in several categories and showcases entries (and previous winners) on the organization’s website. The goal is to highlight the diversity of the NRTs and to make more Americans familiar with these outstanding trails. They are looking for good photos of trail users as well as special facilities, art on the trails, management issues, construction, and volunteers. They also want to see entries that cover the many types and uses of National Recreation Trails throughout America.

            The entry deadline is December 15, 2013, and photos of any designated NRT are eligible. Check the online searchable database for a list of NRTs in your state and provide more information on individual trails. If you're not sure if a trail is an NRT, or if you have questions about the contest, call American Trails at (530) 547-2060 or NRT@AmericanTrails.org. Entries will be displayed on the NRT website. Visit the contest website for full details and submission information.


            Sacramento, Calif.: The California Air Resources Board invites citizens to participate in a series of public workshops to learn about upcoming studies to better understand the usage and emissions associated with red sticker off-highway recreational vehicles. The workshops will be held in three locations as indicated below; each workshop will cover the same topics.

Sacramento Workshop: December 10, 2013, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.

Fresno Workshop: December 16, 2013, 12:00 p.m. to 2:00 p.m.

Diamond Bar Workshop: December 17, 2013, 10:00 a.m. to 12:00p.m.

The workshop notice and additional information are available on the ARB's website

            Reno, Nev.: A federal judge has upheld regulations limiting off-highway vehicle use at the Tahoe National Forest, but attorneys representing recreational users have vowed to continue the effort to protect their riding rights on public lands.

            Ruling from the bench, U.S. District Judge John A. Mendez denied a challenge brought by OHV recreationists against the travel management plan for the Tahoe National Forest, an 800,000-acre forest widely used by Northern California and Western Nevada residents.

            The Pacific Legal Foundation filed suit against the plan in July 2012, claiming it had illegally closed more than 800 miles of roads and trails enjoyed by the public for decades. Ted Hadzi-Antich of the Pacific Legal Foundation challenged the decision and said it will be appealed.


            Gorham, N.H.: A standing-room-only crowd at a recent hearing strongly supported a proposal to allow ATVs to use the public highways in town so they can access local restaurants, motels, and other businesses. At the end of the hearing, town selectmen unanimously approved two motions that would open up specific roads to ATV use year round and a third motion that opens all town roads during the Jericho ATV Festival Weekend on a trial basis.

            Pickerington, Ohio: The AMA Board of Directors adopted a lane-splitting position statement at their October meeting. The AMA believes that lane splitting can have safety benefits as well as help reduce traffic congestion. In developing its statement, the AMA board continues to place significant emphasis on motorcycle operator and passenger safety.

            The AMA endorses rider responsibility and actions that make roadways safer for motorcyclists. While research and evidence suggest that lane splitting may reduce a motorcyclist’s risk exposure, the AMA is cautious to issue a blanket endorsement supporting the practice. In particular, experience indicates that the legislative process and the implementation of new laws are fraught with uncertainty. A straightforward lane splitting bill may easily be amended with provisions that the AMA and the motorcycling community would find unacceptable.

Passing legislation to permit lane splitting may be the easiest part of the process. Significant effort would subsequently be required to educate the law enforcement community, officials and administrators within state departments of transportation and public safety, prosecutors, the judiciary and the general motoring public on the benefits to those groups and motorcyclists to make lane splitting safe for everyone.

            Lane splitting is an issue of choice. The practice is optional in California, for example, where formal guidelines exist. Those opposed to the practice should consider the desires of other motorcyclists who believe they would benefit from it.  

Given the ongoing success of lane splitting in California and the recent enthusiasm for lane splitting and/or filtering in other states, the AMA endorses these practices and will assist groups and individuals working to bring legal lane splitting and/or filtering to their states.

To view the statement, see http://americanmotorcyclist.com/Rights/PositionStatements/LaneSplitting.aspx.


            Pickerington, Ohio: The AMA is pleased to announce the 2014 dates for AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days, the country's premier annual celebration of vintage motorcycling. The event will take place July 18-20 at the world-class Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course in Lexington, Ohio.
            A fundraiser for the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame, AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days features classic motorcycles of all makes and styles, and honors the riders who made them famous. Activities include the AMA Racing Vintage Grand Championship, which features road racing, motocross, hare scrambles, trials and dirt-track; North America's largest motorcycle swap meet; bike shows and awards; stunt shows; demo rides of current production bikes; and seminars on a number of topics by noted motorcycling experts.
            All proceeds from AMA Vintage Motorcycle Days benefit the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame. The goal of the Hall of Fame, located on the AMA campus in Pickerington, Ohio, is to tell the stories and preserve the history of motorcycling's legends and heroes. For more information, call (614) 856-2222, or visit the Hall of Fame's website at www.motorcyclemuseum.org.

            Harrisburg, Pa.: House Bill 1060, originally introduced by Rep. Mark Keller (R-New Bloomfield), was signed by Governor Corbett. The bill allows motorcycle owners to mount their registration plates vertically if they pay an additional $20 fee and display special motorcycle registration plates featuring the identifying characters in a vertical alignment. The bill explicitly prohibits motorcycle registration plates with horizontal identifying characters from being vertically mounted.

            Windsor, Ontario, Canada: Police are cracking down on excessive motorcycle noise. Deputy Chief Jerome Brannigan said officers are on the lookout for altered mufflers that generate excessive or unusual noise. He said police have ticketed 50 people since officers began the crackdown earlier this year. They have experienced a conviction rate of 50 percent. Brannigan said 250 officers took specialized training to make the crackdown effective.

            In June 2010, Edmonton passed Canada’s first excessive motorcycle noise bylaw. It focused on engines louder than 92 decibels while idling and 96 decibels while the engine was revving. Police in Edmonton used decibel meters but found they lost cases because of compromising factors such as background noise.

            A similar law was passed in Bathurst, N.B., in 2011. A year before the ban on noisy bikes there, Bathurst police held clinics so bikers could check the decibel levels of their motorcycles.

If they were over the 92-decibel limit, they were asked to remove the modified after-market exhaust systems that were installed. 

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