National, regional, state and local news for motorcyclists
National and Regional News
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The federal Motorcyclist Advisory Council ended its official duties Oct. 24, after meeting regularly since 2017 and sending its recommendations to the U.S. Department of Transportation in February. Legislation to reauthorize the MAC was contained in an amendment to the federal highway bill that passed the House of Representatives. The MAC was established to provide advice and recommendations concerning infrastructure issues related to motorcyclist safety, including barrier design; road design, construction, and maintenance practices; and the architecture and implementation of intelligent transportation system technologies. Mike Sayre, AMA government relations director, was the MAC chair.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Motorcycle fatalities declined 0.5 percent to 5,014 in 2019, the third consecutive year that fewer riders died on America’s roads, according to preliminary statistics released in October by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The decline in motorcyclist deaths compares to a 2 percent decline in overall vehicle fatalities in 2019. There were 36,096 fatalities in motor vehicle traffic crashes in 2019, while 36,835 were reported in 2018. The data indicate that an estimated 8,870 people died in motor vehicle traffic crashes in the second quarter of 2020, a decrease of about 3.3 percent compared to the second quarter of 2019, which translates into 302 fewer fatalities as compared to the same period in 2019. NHTSA officials noted, however, that the 2020 numbers reflect a significant reduction in driving during the coronavirus pandemic. The total traffic volume decreased by more than 16 percent in the first six months of 2020.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The AMA urges motorcyclists and other off-highway vehicle enthusiasts to apply for positions on the 11 state or regional Resource Advisory Councils of the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. These RACs provide advice and recommendations to the BLM on land use planning and management of the National System of Public Lands within their geographic areas. Nominations are due by Nov. 13. Find the AMA alert at cqrcengage.com/amacycle/app/write-a-letter?4&engagementId=509582. Additional information and applications are available from Carrie Richardson, BLM Communications, 1849 C St. N.W., Room 5614, Washington, DC 20240, or firstname.lastname@example.org.
AUBURN, Ala. — Auburn University’s GPS and Vehicle Dynamics Laboratory is building a garage with multiple bays and lifts for commercial trucks and passenger vehicles, office space for researchers, a conference room and an observation area overlooking a 1.7-mile oval test track. The $800,000 facility will be one of a few autonomous vehicle research facilities in the nation attached to a test track. University officials said the indoor facility will provide protection from the sweltering summer heat and popup thunderstorms that interfere with testing procedures.
KETCHIKAN, Alaska — The Ketchikan Resource Advisory Committee has scheduled a virtual meeting at 6 p.m. Nov. 5 to provide updates on past projects and to propose new ones. The meeting is open to the public, and the agenda includes time for people to make oral statements of three minutes or less. Individuals wishing to make an oral statement should request in writing by Oct. 29, to be scheduled on the agenda. Anyone who would like to bring related matters to the attention of the committee may file written statements with the committee staff before or after the meeting. Contact Penny L. Richardson, RAC coordinator, (907) 228-4105 or (907) 419-5300, or email@example.com, for meeting dial in information.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The AMA cautioned the California Air Resources Board and offered to work with the agency as it revamps its testing fee structure for off-highway and dual-sport motorcycles. Fee increases that raise the price of motorcycles or aftermarket equipment reduce the demand for those products. And that reduced demand affects economic opportunities related to the use of those products, such as hotel stays, restaurant visits and other spending by individuals and families. “With respect to youth-oriented off-road models, recognition of different use and cost implications of a new testing fee structure is critical,” the AMA wrote to CARB. “AMA members and their families need continued access to reasonably priced, youth-appropriate vehicles. Without access to these appropriately sized vehicles, younger riders might be wrongly encouraged to ride adult-sized machines.”
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Gov. Gavin Newsom signed an executive order in September directing state officials to ensure that by 2035 all new cars and passenger trucks sold in California be zero-emissions vehicles. The intent, the governor said, is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The transportation sector is responsible for more than half of all of California’s carbon pollution, 80 percent of smog-forming pollution and 95 percent of toxic diesel emissions, the order states. The move is expected to quicken the shift to electric vehicles and those powered by other alternative fuels.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The state Department of Motor Vehicles issued a permit to Zoox Inc. to operate two driverless vehicles on some streets in Foster City. The vehicles may operate in fair weather conditions (light rain/fog) on streets with a speed limit of no more than 45 mph. The AMA recognizes the potential of autonomous and driver-assist vehicles to improve road-user safety, but objects to the testing of these new technologies on public roadways. Zoox is the fourth company to receive a driverless testing permit in the state. Currently, 60 companies in California have permits to test AVs with a driver.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The draft 2020 Soil Standard and Guidelines from the Off-Highway Motor Vehicle Recreation Division of the California Department of Parks and Recreation is available for public review and comments. The document, an update to the 2008 Soil Conservation Standard and Guidelines, is available at ohv.parks.ca.gov/pages/1140/files/2020scsg_3rd_draft_formatted.pdf. Written comments may be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org by 5 p.m. Nov. 5. A public meeting about the update is scheduled for 2-4 p.m. Nov. 5. For more information, contact Jon M. O’Brien, environmental program manager, email@example.com.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management has reduced fire restrictions in some areas of public lands in Southern California managed by the California Desert District. Areas previously designated Stage II fire restrictions have been redesignated to Stage I fire restrictions. These areas include public lands managed by the California Desert District in Imperial and eastern Mono Counties and portions of Riverside, San Bernardino, Los Angeles, southern Inyo and Kern counties. For specific descriptions of fire restrictions, a fire restrictions map and a copy of the fire order, visit go.usa.gov/xmueg.
NEW HAVEN, Conn. — Police launched a task force to identify people illegally riding dirt bikes and ATVs on city streets, and the Board of Alders approved a new ordinance that increases fines for illegal riding to $1,000 for a first offense, $1,500 for a second violation, and $2,000 for the third. The new law also includes a $100 fine for service stations that sell fuel to anyone who arrives riding a dirt bike or an ATV.
LANSING, Mich. — Motorcyclists are trying to fix a dangerous defect in the state’s new automobile insurance system that took effect in July, limiting access to lifetime medical benefits to motorcyclists injured in traffic crashes. Previously, motorcyclists involved in a crash with an automobile were covered by the no-fault system’s potentially unlimited, lifetime medical benefits, known as personal injury protection coverage or PIP. Under the revamped system, the amount of no-fault benefits available to motorcyclists in a crash involving a car or truck now depends on how much PIP the other vehicle’s owner or driver chose to purchase. About 60 members of ABATE of Michigan gathered on the capitol steps in September to draw attention to the change in coverage. S.B. 528, introduced by state Sen. Peter Lucido (R-Macomb Count) would fix the situation by allowing motorcyclists to file a claim against their own policy, just as other road users can.
PHILADELPHIA — Six members of the Philadelphia City Council voiced support in October for a dirt-bike and ATV park in the city. Philadelphia is one of several large cities overwhelmed by people—mostly youth—illegally riding dirt bikes on city streets and through public parks. Urban OHV parks, which the AMA supports and has promoted in Philadelphia and other communities, offer at least a partial solution to the problem by providing a safer and legal space for responsible riding. Councilwoman Katherine Gilmore Richardson said the “bike life” is a culture that is part of the city. The local CBS-TV affiliate reported that from May 13 through Oct. 3, Philadelphia police confiscated 263 ATVs and dirt bikes. Deputy Police Commissioner Joel Dales testified that enforcement is making a difference, but by itself is not a long-term solution.
HARRISBURG, Pa. — The state Department of Transportation resumed motorcycle training courses in September after instituting coronavirus mitigation measures. American Motorcycle Training Inc., P&P Enterprises Inc./dba Appalachian Cycles, Shaeffer’s Harley-Davidson and Total Control Training Inc. are the first approved vendors that will provide motorcycle safety training. Classes operating under the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program are free to Pennsylvania motorcycle permit and license holders. Successful completion of a basic or intermediate course waives the requirement to take a skills test at a PennDOT Driver License Center and automatically earns the permit holder their motorcycle license.
MONTPELIER, Vt. — Gov. Phil Scott vetoed H. 926, an update to the state’s land-use law, and instead signed Executive Order 04-20, which empowers the state Natural Resources Board to issue rules governing the state trail system. By March 2021, the state commissioner of Forests, Parks and Recreation is to make recommendations for an alternative program for overseeing the planning, construction, use and maintenance of recreational trails in the Vermont Trails System.
RIPON, Wis. — The Common Council tabled an ordinance that would have allowed ATVs and UTVs to operate on city streets. While the council heard from those who ride between area communities to visit businesses, a group of residents objected to the potential of excessive sound from the vehicles and reckless riding. Opponents also said Ripon would be “an island” of ATV activity, since no nearby community allows the vehicles on public roadways.
MINNEAPOLIS — Polaris Inc. created the Empowersports Women’s Riding Council, a panel of 12 women intended to increase the representation and inclusion of women in motorcycling and other powersports. Participants include Michelle Barraza, Carrie Barton, Julie-Ann Chapman, Amy David, Gevin Fax, Vicki Gray, Lisa Lockhart, Kristen Matlock, Jody Perewitz, Porsche Taylor, Jolene Van Vugt and Kelly Yazdi.
GREAT FALLS, Mont. — The National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council announced that Steve Newton from Alabama is the new Clubs and Association Issue Area Representative. Newton has been riding ATVs for 15 years and has served as president of the Cheaha Trail Riders and as a NOHVCC state partner.
SMITHFIELD, R.I. — Harry Grant was inducted into the New England Trials Association Hall of Fame on Oct. 22 during a ceremony at his home. Grant, 68, began competing in off-road Observed Trials competition in the early 1970s, quickly rising to the Top Ten Riders and achieving Expert ranking. In addition to competing in New England events, Grant participated in many national competitions in the 1970s. In 1975, he was one of a few U.S. riders to compete in the first World Championship Observed Trials Competition held in the United States. As recently as 2019, Grant was still competing in the Senior classes of Observed Trials in various New England locations.
TORONTO — Winners at the 2020 Toronto Motorcycle Film Festival, conducted online Oct. 1-10, included:
- People’s Choice Award—”When The Road Ends—Lost In The Pacific”
- Best Feature Film—”The Space Between”
- Best Short Film—”Reappear”
- Best Short Documentary—”Fast Eddie”
- Best Canadian Film—”Biker Bob’s Posthumous Adventure”
PICKERINGTON, Ohio — The AMA has announced the professional competition numbers for pro-licensed riders competing in Monster Energy AMA Supercross, an FIM World Championship, and the Lucas Oil AMA Pro Motocross Championship for the 2021 season. Each rider uses the assigned professional number for competition. In addition, the current champion runs the No. 1 plate, instead of an assigned professional number, when competing in the class or region in which the No. 1 plate was earned. Find the complete list at americanmotorcyclist.com/2021-professional-supercross-and-motocross-numbers-announced.
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