Big Changes, Bigger Opportunities
Expanding outreach, lobbying and education at all levels of government
May 18, 2023
By Nick Haris
I’ve learned a few things in my 21 years of advocating on behalf of riders. One of those things could not be clearer: Government happens at all levels. That means the AMA must be engaged at all levels of government to be an effective advocate for your rights and freedoms to ride and race.
Before I became the AMA Government Relations Director, I was the Western States Representative — a position I’m concurrently holding, for now. In that role, I’ve learned a lot about the issues and challenges that motorcyclist face — in the western states region, and beyond — including access to public lands, lane splitting, rider education and training, automated vehicle technology and more.
I also learned a lot about the opportunities and solutions that motorcyclists must engage in, such as finding common round with opponents, coordinating with our allies, and remaining engaged throughout the often long and arduous processes required to transform legislation from a good idea to successful implementation.
That experience is why I’m excited to share some news with our members.
The AMA is evolving its Government Relations Department to better serve you and advance our mission: to promote the motorcycle lifestyle and protect the future of motorcycling. We are refocusing and revitalizing our efforts by building a team of effective and engaged advocates who will work hard to protect and promote your rights and interests as motorcyclists at all levels of government: federal, regional, state and local.
First, we are bringing on board an experienced Washington Representative, who will monitor and influence the policies and programs at the federal level. That individual will work closely with the U.S. Department of Transportation, Congress and other national partners on topics such as infrastructure funding, safety regulations, environmental issues and more. We must be, can be and will be louder and more effective at the national level, and this new team member will be a pro at communication and collaborating to amplify your voice and influence to maintain and grow our sport and pastime.
Second, we are increasing our representation at the regional and state level. We are adding Central States and Eastern States Representatives. I speak from experience when I say these folks will be busy advocating for you.
- Keep track of the local and state laws and policies that affect you.
- Promote funding the right projects that improve motorcyclist safety, promote motorcycling, and enforce regulations that prevent rider discrimination or create opportunities that increase your opportunities to ride.
- Work with state departments of transportation and legislatures to influence state transportation budgets, project priorities, licensing requirements, tolls and fees, public transit options or regional coordination.
- Work with and support AMA members and motorcyclists in their region.
Regional representation will make a difference. Local knowledge and connections are crucial for effective advocacy and lobbying. These team members will have the pulse of the political and social landscapes of their states and will work with key decision-makers and influencers in their regions. Their personal networks will be strong, and they will understand how to work well with state and local partners and stakeholders.
Frankly, this type of work is difficult to do from a Washington, D.C., office. We will hire staff where the laws are made and where the affected motorcyclists ride. This has worked for me in the western states, and it will succeed in the central and eastern ones, too.
Third, at the local level, we will hire a Grassroots Specialist who will coordinate and support the government relations activities of our local members, clubs and affiliates across the country. This individual will:
- Work with engaged member volunteers to track local policies and programs that affect you as a rider in your community, such as how well your local roads are maintained, how well traffic is managed, or what trails and parks are accessible.
- Support members speaking up in front of local governments, agencies and other partners that make the rules, such as city or county councils, transit authorities or regional planning organizations.
- Provide tools and resources to help you participate in public hearings, advisory committees, stakeholder groups, or citizen surveys.
- Coordinate with other local or specialized motorcycling groups and allies to make our voice louder and stronger, such as AMA clubs or organizations like Backcountry Discovery Routes.
The AMA is the largest and most influential motorcycling organization in the nation, with more than 214,000 members who ride for fun, sport, travel work or adventure. Our members are part of a diverse and passionate community of riders who love the freedom and thrill of riding and racing. Our Government Relations Department makes sure that you can enjoy riding without unnecessary hassles or restrictions from the government. Whether it has been promoting and protecting the federal Recreational Trails Program, keeping lane splitting legal in California and expanding the practice to other states, or supporting a member defending his or her right to keep riding on personal property, the AMA has fought at every level of government, and this structure will help us be even more effective in the future.
An experienced and connected Washington Representative, regional government relations managers and grassroots engagement allow us to have a more focused and tailored strategy and message for each level of government. It supports us being more responsive and agile when it comes to taking action on your behalf.
Thank you for your membership and support of the AMA. Ride safe and ride free!