June 2005

 

            The AMA held a successful "Introduction to Washington" seminar in Washington, DC, March 6-9 that featured some heavy hitters from motorcycling and government.

About 30 participants gathered to meet and learn from the AMA's government relations staff as well as other political experts. Besides learning about state and federal issues facing motorcyclists today, participants got tips on building relationships with government-agency officials and on lobbying elected officials.

Edward Moreland, AMA vice president for government relations led the seminar. Others who took part in seminar panels include Jeff Hennie, vice president of the Motorcycle Riders Foundation; Ruth Van Mark, deputy staff director for the US Senate Environment and Public Works Committee; Marietta Bowen, a highway safety specialist with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Janette King, senior legislative assistant for health in the office of US Rep. Ted Strickland (D-Ohio), Nelson Garcia, director of government relations for the Intelligent Transportation Society of America; and Doug Crandall and Erica Tergeson, staff director and legislative staff for the US House Subcommittee on Forests and Forest Health; as well as Joel Blackwell, head of the Issue Management Company, which is a media re

Seminar participants also put what they learned into practice, lobbying their members of Congress in face-to-face talks on issues ranging from health-insurance discrimination against motorcyclists to the need for comprehensive research into the causes of motorcycle crashes.

 

Utah Governor Jon Huntsman Jr. issued a proclamation recognizing motocross as "healthy and responsible outdoor family recreation" and then did what any enthusiastic motorcyclist would do: He went for a ride.

Huntsman took to the track as part of a “Ride with the Governor” event at the Utah State Parks and Recreation Jordan River Off-Highway Vehicle Huntsman's proclamation of Utah's "Motocross Kickoff Day" and "Motocross Safety Week" which made April 9 the official Kickoff to the 2005 Motocross Season in Utah, noted that the popularity of motocross is growing, that the state provides riding opportunities for residents and that the industry contributes to Utah's economy. The proclamation also credited safety and education programs with reducing the number of rider injuries from off-highway riding.

 

Arkansas motorcyclists, lead by efforts from ABATE of Arkansas, now may proceed through a red light, when safe to do so, if the vehicle detection device does not recognize the motorcycle.

HB2833 was signed by the Governor and is now Act 1886 which allows motorcycles to treat a red light as a stop sign in certain cases.

In other good news for Arkansas motorcyclists SB993, a bill to enhance right of way violations consistent with the AMA Justice For All initiative, passed through the State Legislature and has been signed by the Governor. 

 

The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA), responding to new motorcycling-related fatality statistics released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), is calling on motorcyclists nationwide to ask their federal lawmakers to support a comprehensive study of motorcycle-accident data.

Figures released recently by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) indicate that 3,927 motorcyclists were killed on the nation’s roads in 2004, up from 3,661 the previous year. The preliminary estimate represents a 7.3 percent increase over 2003.

The AMA expressed concern over the increase in motorcycling fatalities, but observed that the raw numbers offer no clear explanation for the increase and because there’s no recent research, we don’t know the reasons behind the increase in fatalities.

The last comprehensive federal study of motorcycling accident data was published in 1980, and dealt with accidents only in Southern California.

The AMA noted that one significant reason for the increase in motorcycling-related fatalities is that motorcycling has seen an enormous increase in popularity.

The AMA currently is urging Congress to approve a motorcycle crash study. Motorcyclists can lend their support by sending a strong message to their federal lawmakers through the "Rapid Response Center" at the AMA website at www.AMADirectlink.com.

In 2000, the AMA and other industry groups succeeded in incorporating a motorcycle-accident study in the National Agenda for Motorcycle Safety, which was released by the NHTSA and the private Motorcycle Safety Foundation to serve as a blueprint for improving motorcycling safety. That motorcycle-accident study has not yet been scheduled.

The AMA feels it is imperative that Congress fund comprehensive research to define the reasons for motorcycling accidents. Only then can we put together effective programs to reduce accidents.

The AMA has long supported motorcycle rider safety training, stricter licensing laws, appropriate riding gear and motorist-awareness campaigns as effective ways to reduce motorcycling accident and injury rates. The AMA also launched a program called "Justice for All" that seeks to make car drivers more responsible when they inflict injuries on motorcyclists, bicyclists, pedestrians and other vulnerable road users.

 

The US Bureau of Land Management's (BLM) California Desert District has terminated the three-month ban across 571,000 acres prohibiting off-highway vehicle (OHV) use in wash zones associated with the designated Desert Wildlife Management Areas within the Northern and Eastern Colorado desert bio-region in parts of Imperial, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.

A federal judge ordered the ban in early January 2005 after the Center for Biological Diversity and other groups argued that vehicles damage the habitat of the desert tortoise and can kick up dust and kill the reptiles.

The BLM made its announcement after the US Fish and Wildlife Service cleared the move, saying the vehicles would not likely jeopardize the continued existence of the tortoise or its habitat.

 

The British Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) recently released a controversial directive regarding the Single Payment Scheme for farmers and landowners (akin to the American farm subsidies) that has brought about the cancellation of the Neath Motor Cycle Club's opening round of the Colin Appleyard A.C.U. British Motorcycle Trials Championship.

The ruling issued by DEFRA states that farmers and landowners in receipt of the Single Payment Scheme must not allow any form of motorsports activities on land while receiving payments through the scheme. The rule covers many aspects of outdoor recreation totally detached from motorsports, and in three categories.

This new legislation threatens seven thousand motorcycle events on the British calendar in 2005. The regulations issued by DEFRA have already accounted for a number of events being cancelled and many other planned events are now threatened. Any event, regardless of two, three, or four wheels is now in doubt.

The Auto Cycle Union (governing body of most forms of motorcycle sport) and The Land Access and Recreation Association (LARA) are collating information through their respective counsel with plans to mount a legal challenge to the DEFRA rulings. Other national organizations are taking up the legality of the new Single Payment Scheme rules. Letters have been sent to the Secretary of State demanding clarification of the DEFRA statements.

 

Oregon’s motorcycle safety program is the best in the nation, according to the preliminary results of a study sponsored by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Oregon scored highest in the 47 states surveyed in three categories of program administration, rider education courses and motorcycle licensing, according to the study of best practices conducted for NHTSA by the American Institutes for Research. The preliminary results of the study were published in the Journal of Safety Research (www.nsc.org/lrs/res/jsr.htm), Volume 36, Issue 1, 2005, although NHTSA has not yet released the final report.

The TEAM OREGON program was developed with Oregon rider input and continued support with Oregon State University, which conducts day-to-day operations of the rider education courses with a grant through the Safety Division. The Driver and Motor Vehicle Services Division of ODOT administer the motorcycle licensing program.

To ride a motorcycle on public roads, a rider must have a driver license and a motorcycle endorsement. Applicants for the endorsement may present a TEAM OREGON basic course certificate at DMV instead of taking the DMV knowledge and skills tests. Applicants younger than 21 years are required to take the TEAM OREGON safety course before applying for the endorsement at DMV.

Oregon recently developed its own motorcycle safety education curricula for beginning, intermediate and advanced rider training courses. The courses were developed and produced through extensive review with the assistance of experts and practitioners in motorcycle safety and education from throughout the nation.

 

Virginia Governor Mark Warner (D) has signed into law House Bill 2020, sponsored by Delegate John Welch (R-Virginia Beach), requiring those using steel plates during street repairs or utility work on streets to follow newly developed standards of the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) regarding warnings and markings of the plates. Those standards require reflective markings at least 4 inches in width at various points around the perimeter of the plate. The VDOT standards also require that a "Steel Plate Ahead" sign be placed in advance of the temporary steel plate to warn approaching vehicles of the changed roadway condition.

 

Arizona Governor Janet Napolitano (D) officially signed HB2357 into Arizona State Law. HB2357 will exempt from emissions testing all vehicle's 15-years and older that have collectible vehicle insurance coverage, and it will exempt all years of motorcycles from emissions testing in the Tucson area only.

Phoenix area motorcycles will still have to submit to emissions testing.

The legislation must now be approved by the US Environmental Protection Agency under their State Implementation Plan to improve our air quality.

For more information visit the Arizona State Legislatures remodeled website at: http://www.azleg.state.az.us./.

 

Massachusetts House Bill 1983, submitted at the request of the Massachusetts Motorcycle Association (MMA) by Rep. Demetrius Atsalis (D-Hyannis), seeks to prohibit any municipality or the State, from banning motorcycles on any public road. 

The MMA encourages all riders to inform their friends of this bill and seek their support for its enactment by contacting their State Senator and Representative, advising them of House, No. 1983, and asking them to support "no banning of motorcycles." 

Any person who sees any "No motorcycles allowed" signs - please forward a picture of the sign and its location to the MMA.

 

Cheltenham Township, PA will lift, as of May 7, 2005, a more than half-century-old prohibition against motorcycle riding on Tookany Creek Parkway.

 The township's Board of Commissioners voted 6-1 to remove the motorcycle ban along the 2.6-mile stretch of road, which bisects Tookany Creek Park and the Melrose Country Club. The ban had been in place since 1948.

The decision to rescind the local ordinance was made after the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) notified the township that it risked losing almost $17,000 a year in liquid-fuel-tax revenues if the ban were to stay in place. The revenues are allocated for maintenance on that part of the road.

 

North Carolina Senate bill 189, authored by Sen. William R. Purcell (D-Laurinburg), would make it illegal for anyone under the age of 12 to operate an ATV. It would also place stringent limits on the use of ATVs by anyone under the age of 16 and would mandate safety training and personal safety equipment use for all riders. This legislation can be reviewed by clicking on the “Issues and Legislation” tab and a letter opposing this bill can be sent to Tar Heel State legislators on the Statewatch section of http://www.amadirectlink.com/.


AMA Government Relations News & Notes is a monthly service compiled and edited by the AMA
Government Relations Staff to keep motorcyclists informed of happenings around the world. We welcome
your news & views. Please submit all material to Terry Lee Cook, Grassroots Manager,
13515 Yarmouth Drive, Pickerington, OH 43147; fax 614-856-1920 or e-mail to tcook@ama-cycle.org