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AMA News & Notes: October 2019

National and regional news for motorcyclists

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Reviving America’s Scenic Byways Act (S. 349) passed the U.S. Senate by voice vote on Sept. 9 and was signed by the president. The bill passed the House in February. The bill requires the Secretary of Transportation to request nominations for, and make determinations regarding, roads to be designated under the national scenic byways program, which has been closed for six years. The AMA was part of the coalition that helped create this program in 1991 and is part of a coalition now intent on reviving the program. Many of the country’s favorite motorcycling roads are National Scenic Byways and benefit from the resources provided to preserve and enhance them. From the Blue Ridge Parkway, stretching 469 miles from North Carolina to Virginia, to the Beartooth Highway between Montana and Wyoming, to Hells Canyon in Oregon, there are 150 roads designated as National Scenic Byways. The program provides resources that help communities along these byways benefit from the tourism they generate, while preserving the characteristics of the roads that made them great destinations in the first place. Officials are prepared to seek National Scenic Byway designation for 44 roads in 24 states as soon as the program is restarted.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency must reconsider its 2018 renewable volume obligations under the Renewable Fuel Standard because the agency failed to consider how the policy would affect endangered species, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit ruled. In a suit brought in 2018, the Sierra Club and the Gulf Restoration Network argued that habitats of whooping cranes and gulf sturgeon could be affected if corn production is increased to meet federal standards for ethanol in vehicle fuels. Claims made by refineries and energy companies that the RVOs were too low or too high were rejected by the court. The EPA argued that it did make a determination when it responded to comments on the proposed standards by saying it could not attribute any damage to habitats or species to changes in the rule.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Interior Secretary David Bernhardt signed an order in late August that allows electric bicycles on all trails on Department of Interior land where pedal bicycles are permitted. The new policy covers all of the national parks and the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. Despite the BLM and U.S. Forest Service still considering e-bikes motorized vehicles, the San Juan Nation Forest in Colorado has allowed some e-bikes on selected nonmotorized trails following an environmental assessment and public input in 2017. In a more controversial move, the Tahoe National Forest also recently allowed electric mountain bikes on some nonmotorized trails without undergoing reviews under the National Environmental Policy Act or seeking public comments. The AMA believes federal lands should be available for use by all Americans engaging in a wide range of recreational activities. However, the AMA believes the growing popularity of e-bikes has posed many questions and agencies should manage their use consistently, especially in terms of soliciting public comments.

WASHINGTON, D.C. — Waymo, the self-driving car unit of Google parent Alphabet Inc., has asked the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to remove regulatory barriers for self-driving cars that do not have steering wheels or brake pedals, according to a Reuters report. But Waymo still wants NHTSA to ensure the safety of those cars on the road. Automakers currently must meet nearly 75 auto safety standards for self-driving cars, many written under the assumption that a licensed driver is in command of the vehicle using traditional controls. NHTSA should first work on addressing those safety standards that assume a human is behind the wheel before revising rules to address alternative seating configurations, Waymo said in a letter to the agency. That will “enable the timely deployment” of vehicles without manual controls. NHTSA is also grappling with how and where to test self-driving cars to assure they are safe, according to the Reuters report. The agency is considering whether to use simulations or external remote controls in testing. Many automakers plan remote controls to pilot autonomous vehicles through factories or onto trucks. The AMA objects to the deployment of automated vehicles that do not properly detect and appropriately respond to motorcycles, other nearby vehicles or pedestrians.

State News

PHOENIX — The Arizona Motorcycle Safety & Awareness Foundation is teaming with RideNow Powersports on a pilot program to help motorcyclists obtain helmets. Applicants who donate $50 to AMSAF will receive a $125 credit toward one full-face helmet at specified RideNow Powersports locations. Applicants must have a motorcycle endorsement on their driver’s licenses. Funds for the program came from donations, sponsorships and grants. For more information, visit www.amsaf.org/helmets or call (888) 951-3732.

PRESCOTT, Ariz. — The Yavapai Resource Advisory Committee is accepting applications through Oct. 6 for grants to be awarded under the Secure Rural Schools and Communities Self-Determination Act. Although the primary location for projects is intended to be in Yavapai County on the Prescott National Forest and portions of the Kaibab, Coconino and Tonto national forests, projects can also be on nonfederal lands within Yavapai County where it is clearly demonstrated that the project benefits resources on the national forest. Grants are for projects that improve roads, trails or recreation facilities or projects that improve forest health and restore and improve land health and water quality. Applications can be made at tinyurl.com/YavapaiRACProposal. For more information, contact Debbie Maneely at (928) 443-8130.

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Lawmakers approved S.B. 112, which restores the “fix-it” tickets for vehicles suspected of violating the state’s exhaust sound limit. Fix-it tickets allow the vehicle owner 30 days to correct a violation. A.B. 1824, signed into law in 2018, eliminated that option, resulting in immediate fines.

UKIAH, Calif. — The South Cow Mountain OHV Management Area has reopened to the public following repairs related to 2018’s Mendocino Complex fires. Fire damage was worsened by winter rains. Some motorized trails will remain closed because of burned bridges, washouts and hazard trees. Visitors are cautioned to pay attention to signs and stay off of closed routes for safety and to protect natural resources. Visitors should use only designated roads and trails and avoid driving on bulldozer fire lines. Visitors can expect to see fallen trees on some trails. The South Cow Mountain OHV Management Area provides more than 100 miles of trails for riders and drivers of all abilities using motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, four-wheel-drive trucks and utility vehicles.

MONTROSE, Colo. — The U.S. Bureau of Land Management will lease about 44 acres to Montrose County, enabling the county to develop the Shavano Gateway Recreation Area. According to the Montrose Press, the county will establish a formal trailhead for the Montrose side of the 160-mile Rimrocker Trail, as well as provide about 20 miles of single-track trails adjacent to the recreation area for mountain bikes, ATVs and non-motorized travel. The county also plans an off-highway vehicle training and obstacle course and infrastructure, such as picnic tables.

DUBUQUE, Iowa — The Dubuque County Supervisors are preparing to open most roads to ATVS and UTVs. Officials approved a $30,000 contract with Northeast Iowa Community College to educate the public about the change through radio, print and social media. The ordinance requires drivers to be 18 or older.

ANNAPOLIS, Md. — Motorcycle tolls would be cut in half under a plan to modernize Maryland’s toll system in 2020. A public comment period extended through Oct. 3 for the new tolling options proposed by the Maryland Transportation Authority board. A final report will be submitted Oct. 31 for review by the MDTA board and will be posted at mdta.maryland.gov for additional public comment. The board is scheduled to vote on a final recommendation at its Nov. 21 meeting. Gov. Larry Hogan said the toll relief package would save Marylanders more than $28 million over five years.

RANDOLPH, N.H. — A memorial is being planned for the seven motorcyclists killed in a June crash caused by a pickup truck driver who crossed the centerline of a highway. American Legion Post 82 in Gorham hopes to create the memorial near the crash site in Randolph, N.H. The memorial would include the Jarheads Motorcycle Club and U.S. Marine Corps logos. The Jarheads is a New England motorcycle club that includes Marines and their spouses. The pickup driver, 23-year-old Volodymyr Zhukovskyy, of West Springfield, Mass., has pleaded not guilty to negligent homicide. Officials say Zhukovskyy’s license should have been suspended because of a previous drunken driving arrest.

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — Three national forests—Cibola, Santa Fe and Carson—have released final draft plans and environmental impact statements. Public hearings were held in August and September. The deadline for comments on the plans is Nov. 7. The final draft Carson National Forest documents is available here: www.fs.usda.gov/detail/carson/landmanagement/planning/?cid=stelprdb5443166. For information about the Cibola National Forest, visit www.fs.usda.gov/detail/cibola/landmanagement/planning/?cid=FSBDEV3_065627. And the Santa Fe National Forest documents are available here: www.fs.usda.gov/detail/santafe/landmanagement/planning/?cid=stelprd3791442.

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Four miles of new all-purpose vehicle trails are planned for a 144-acre property in the Pike State Forest, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources announced. The new trails bring the total in the forest to nearly 20 miles of APV trails. APVs include four-wheelers, dirt bikes, side-by-sides and dual-sport motorcycles.

VERNAL, Utah — The Ashley National Forest is defining the scope of an update to its Forest Plan, which has been amended 24 times since its adoption in 1986. There are nearly 30 OHV trails on the forest. The scoping process is intended to give stakeholders the opportunity to identify issues that should be addressed in the Environmental Impact Statement and Forest Plan. The Forest Service expects to release a draft revised Forest Plan and EIS by the fall of 2020 and the final version of each by the summer of 2021. Comments are due by Nov. 8. Email comments to AshleyForestPlans@usda.gov or send them to Ashley National Forest, Attention: Plan Revision, 355 N. Vernal Ave., Vernal, UT 84078-1703. Plan documents are available online at www.fs.usda.gov/main/ashley/landmanagement/planning.

International News

VILLENEUVE-LE-ROI, France — This Paris suburb has installed cameras and sound detectors near Orly Airport in an attempt to reduce sound levels by ticketing suspected vehicles. The “acoustic cameras” pick up sounds that exceed the legal limit, then snap photos of the offending vehicles. However, French law does not allow vehicle owners to be fined under this approach. The French pilot project is one among several. A 2011 project in Calgary, Canada, was discontinued when it was determined that the acoustic measurements could not be used for enforcement. Edmonton installed cameras and sound recording equipment in 2018, according to a report by Dolf Willigers of the Federation of European Motorcycle Associations. The British Department for Transport has announced that acoustic cameras will be installed as a reaction to excessive vehicle sound. And the Netherlands city of Tilburg is considering acoustic cameras against excessive noise by cars and motorcycles in the inner city.

Industry News

MATTIGHOFEN, Austria — KTM Industries AG will be renamed Pierer Mobility AG to better reflect “the strong role of the majority shareholder” and encompass the company’s other brands. KTM also owns Husqvarna Motorcycles, Husqvarna Bicycles and Raymon and the component brand WP.

CALABASAS HILLS, Calif. — Powersports distributor Helmet House has been sold to an industry group. Founders Bob Miller and Phil Bellomy sold the 50-year-old business to Dave Bertram, Scott Link, Don Becklin and Randy Hutchings. MIller and Bellomy said they will retain part ownership. Among the brands distributed by Helmet House are Shoei, HJC, Tourmaster, Cortech and Sena. Bertram is the founder of Cycle Gear. Becklin is the founder of Motorcycle-Superstore and Motorcycle-USA.com. Link was director of sales for North America for Alpinestars. Hutchings is the current CEO of Helmet House.

MARIETTA, Ga. — Yamaha Motor Corp. USA awarded more than $86,000 to five organizations during the second quarter of 2019 as part of its pledge to fund $500,000 in Yamaha Outdoor Access Initiative grants this year. Those receiving the most recent grants are Arizona State Association of 4-Wheel Drive, Post Wildfire OHV Recovery Alliance, Save the Rider’s Dunes, Southern California Mountain Foundation and The Great Outdoors Fund. For further information on Yamaha’s Outdoor Access Initiative program, or to submit a grant application, visit YamahaOAI.com.

AUSTIN, Texas — WomenRidersNow.com, a website for female motorcyclists, has formed a Leadership Board to guide its strategy. Board members include Co-Chairwomen Erin Sills and Sarah Schilke. WRN founder Genevieve Schmitt, the 2019 AMA Bessie Stringfield Award recipient, will serve on the board in an advisory capacity.

AMA News

PICKERINGTON, Ohio — The 2019 AMA Legends & Champions Weekend is Dec. 6-7 at the Hilton Columbus Downtown in Columbus, Ohio. The AMA Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony on Dec. 6 will welcome the Hall of Fame Class of 2019: rights advocate Mark Buckner, off-road racing champion Kurt Caselli, motocross champion Ron Lechien, trials pioneer Wiltz Wagner and museum founder Dale Walksler. On Dec. 7, the 2019 AMA Championship Banquet which honors the national champions in all disciplines sanctioned by the AMA. In addition, the hotel will host AMA Congress on Dec. 6-7, where AMA Commission members will discuss rules governing AMA-sanctioned events. Tickets for AMA Legends & Champions Weekend are available now at http://events.constantcontact.com/register/event?llr=vw9ldxbab&oeidk=a07egk6666t3e98bda6. Tickets also can be purchased over the phone at (800) 262-5646. Reservations can be made at the Hilton Columbus Downtown at https://book.passkey.com/event/49921089/owner/9521521/home.

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AMA News & Notes is a monthly publication compiled and edited by the American Motorcyclist Association. 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 Managing Editor Jim Witters at jwitters@amacycle.org.

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