AMA News & Notes is a monthly publication compiled and edited by the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) Government Relations Department. Designed to inform motorcyclists of rights-related issues and events around the world, AMA News & Notes welcomes your input. Suggestions and editorial contributions can be sent to AMA Western States Representative Nick Haris by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Washington, D.C.: Self-driving cars would be allowed to operate on Washington, D.C., roads under the Autonomous Vehicle Act of 2012 (B-931), introduced by Councilwoman Mary M. Cheh (D-Ward 3). The bill would authorize autonomous vehicles, which are self-driving cars, to operate on the roads in the district, establish a system for taxing users of autonomous vehicles based on vehicle miles traveled — 1.875 cents per mile — require the district Department of Motor Vehicles to create an autonomous vehicle designation for registration, titling and operation permit purposes, and establish safe operating protocols for such vehicles.
Washington, D.C.: U.S. Interior Secretary Ken Salazar has announced dates in 2013 ranging from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day to Veterans Day when more than 2,000 national parks, forests, wildlife refuges and other federal land will offer free admittance to everyone.
The Interior Department notes that tourism and outdoor recreation are powerful economic engines in communities across the country. The department says that recreation on federal land in 2009 provided 440,000 jobs and contributed $55 billion to the economy. The fee waiver doesn’t cover expanded amenity or user fees for things such as camping, boat launches, transportation, or special tours.
The Interior Department also notes that active duty military members and their dependents are eligible for free annual passes that allow entrance to land managed by the National Park Service, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Forest Service. The America the Beautiful National Parks and Federal Recreational Lands Pass Program also offers free lifetime passes for people with disabilities, a $10 lifetime senior pass for those age 62 and older, and an $80 annual pass for the general public.
Phoenix, Ariz.: Motorcycles in the Phoenix metropolitan area would be exempt from emissions testing requirements under a proposal by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The agency has proposed three revisions to the Arizona State Implementation Plan submitted by the Arizona Department of Environmental Quality. Two of these revisions relate to an amendment to Arizona’s Basic and Enhanced Vehicle Emissions Inspection Programs that would exempt motorcycles in the Phoenix metropolitan area from emissions testing requirements.
The request to drop the testing requirement came in response to a 2008 state law requiring ADEQ to do an analysis of pollutants emitted by motorcycles and make a proposal to the federal agency. Even though motorcycles account for 3.5 percent of vehicles on the area’s roads, the department’s analysis determined that they emit “insignificant” amounts of pollution, accounting for less than 1 percent of total emissions in the Phoenix metro area.
The EPA is proposing approval of these revisions because it has found that they meet all applicable requirements and would not interfere with reasonable further progress or attainment of any of the national ambient air quality standards. The EPA is proposing this action under the Clean Air Act obligation to take action on state submittals of revisions to state implementation plans.
Irvine, Calif.: Creative, cash-winning kids from coast to coast got their videos on safe and responsible ATV riding posted online as public service announcements by the ATV Safety Institute, MSF’s DirtBike School and the Right Rider Access Fund. A judging panel from ASI, the Right Rider Access Fund and the National Off-Highway Vehicle Conservation Council selected the winners from among dozens of entries from young enthusiasts nationwide, all aiming to highlight the ASI’s Golden Rules of ATV Safety or the MSF DirtBike School’s Dirt Bike Riding Tips.
The associations designed the contest to inform and motivate kids and their parents on the responsible use of ATVs and dirtbikes while spreading the message to other young riders. Every entry took a unique approach to demonstrate safe riding practices, but each video highlighted one or more of ASI’s Golden Rules of ATV Safety or one or more of the MSF’s Dirt Bike Riding Tips.
To see the winning videos visit: www.atvsafety.org/atv_psa_contest/videos.html.
Lake Tahoe, Calif.: The U.S. Forest Service’s Lake Tahoe Basin Management Unit has begun the annual closure of forest roads around the Tahoe basin. Once the gates are closed, forest users are reminded to park safely off the roadway in designated spots and avoid parking in front of gates.
Fall closure dates are established by the Motor Vehicle Use Map, which also establishes target-opening dates after the winter season. The dates are dependent on soil conditions to avoid resource damage and erosion potential. The map, with dates for specific roads, is available at www.fs.usda.gov/goto/ltbmu/TravelManagement.
More information on gate closures can be obtained by calling the Forest Supervisor’s Office at (530) 543-2694 or visiting www.fs.usda.gov/goto/ltbmu/RecAreaStatus.
Sacramento, Calif.: The California Air Resources Board told the AMA that even if it approves the sale of the new E15 ethanol-gasoline blend in California, the blend wouldn’t appear in the market for several years.
CARB made the comment in response to a letter from AMA Vice President for Government Relations Wayne Allard, who expressed concern about potential misfueling of E15 into motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles. E15 is a gasoline formulation that contains up to 15 percent ethanol, and the federal Environmental Protection Agency hasn’t approved its use in motorcycles or ATVs.
To avoid misfueling, the EPA is requiring warning labels on gas pumps and requiring all consumers buy at least four gallons of gas when they buy from blender pumps. A blender pump dispenses different fuel blends through the same hose.
Michael Waugh, chief of the CARB transportation fuels branch, responded to Allard’s letter on behalf of CARB Chairwoman Mary Nichols. In the letter, Waugh said: “Please be advised that E15 is not approved for sale in California, and if ARB chooses to allow E15 as a transportation fuel, it would take several years to complete the vehicle testing and rule development necessary to introduce a new transportation fuel into California’s market.”
Dillon, Colo.: The U.S. Forest Service is seeking feedback on a proposal to create a 21-mile single-track trail system in the Tenderfoot/Frey Gulch area, which is east of Dillon, Colo., and west of Keystone. The land is managed by the Dillon Ranger District of the White River National Forest. This includes 8 miles of new trail construction and 13 miles of reconstruction of existing trails. The environmental assessment was released for a 30-day comment period ending Dec. 17.
An open house will be hosted at the Dillon Ranger Station from 2-6 p.m. Dec. 5. District staff will answer questions about the proposal. Additional information is available at www.fs.fed.us/nepa/fs-usda-pop.php/?project=34502.
Meeker, Colo.: Former Colorado U.S. Sen. Ben Nighthorse Campbell, a member of the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame, was behind the wheel of a Mack truck hauling the nation’s 2012 U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree from Colorado to Washington, D.C.
“It is a privilege to drive the tree for the U.S. Capitol from Colorado this year,” said Campbell, who was inducted into the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame in 2001. Campbell, an avid motorcyclist, served in Congress representing Colorado from 1993 to 2005.
Choose Outdoors, a national nonprofit coalition for outdoor recreation, coordinated the 2012 Capitol Christmas Tree tour with the White River National Forest, where the 73-foot-tall Colorado Englemann Spruce tree was harvested.
The almost-four-week-long trip began in Meeker, Colo., where the tree was harvested from the White River National Forest, which is in the heart of the Rocky Mountains. On the way to Washington, D.C., the tree is stopped in cities and towns in Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, Missouri, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Virginia before arriving in the nation’s capital in late November.
To learn more about the 2012 Capitol Christmas Tree tour, go to www.capitolchristmastree2012.org.
Las Vegas, Nev.: Seven historic figures took their places among motorcycling’s greatest legends on Nov. 16 at the 2012 AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, presented by KTM. The ceremony was part of AMA Legends Weekend, powered by Paul Thede’s Race Tech, held at the Red Rock Casino, Resort and Spa.
The 2012 inductees were honored with videos chronicling their careers, induction speeches and the presentation of their official Hall of Fame rings, sponsored by Zero Motorcycles. In addition to the honorees, several luminaries from the world of motorcycling participated in the ceremony.
Corvallis, Ore.: TEAM OREGON, a national leader in motorcycle training and education, recognized the Oregon Department of Transportation Safety Division with its Champion Award recently.
The Champion Award is reserved for select individuals and organizations that stand out as the strongest advocates for, and influencers of, the state’s motorcycle safety effort. TSD Administrator Troy Costales and Motorcycle Safety Program Manager Michele O’Leary accepted the award on behalf of TSD.
TEAM OREGON works closely with TSD to provide rider training, education and outreach programs to the motorcyclists of Oregon. Funding comes from student tuitions, motorcycle endorsement and renewal fees, and state and federal grants. Since 1984, the program has trained more than 120,000 riders — 11,500 in 2012 alone. Oregon’s fatal crash rate for motorcyclists is half the national average.
Tysons Corner, Va.: As cash-strapped states and cities look for ways to stretch their taxpayer transportation dollars, more and more are turning to High-Occupancy Toll lanes, known as Express Lanes. The latest to open are the 495 Express Lanes on the Virginia side of the Capital Beltway in the Washington, D.C., area, which opened Nov. 17. Once open, they will give riders, and drivers, a new option for faster trips on I-495 from about the Springfield Interchange to just past the Dulles Toll Road.
High-Occupancy Toll lanes are essentially High-Occupancy Vehicles lanes but with single-driver vehicles having the option to use the lane for a fee. That is, HOV users are able to continue to use the lane for free. In the case of the 495 Express Lanes, which eventually will involve 14 miles of lanes, motorcyclists don’t have to pay a toll. And motorcyclists don’t need an E-ZPass to ride the 495 Express Lanes. But if you enter the Express Lanes with an E-ZPass on your motorcycle, the Express Lanes system will detect your motorcycle and won’t charge a toll. For more information, go to www.495expresslanes.com.
Huntington, W.Va.: The Right Rider Access Fund and NOHVCC are providing a scholarship for the spring semester at Marshall University. The spring semester OHV Recreation Management courses are PLS 451/551: Planning and Design of OHV Parks; and PLS 453/553: Operation and Management of OHV Trail Systems. The information in these courses can be invaluable for both agency personnel as well as the enthusiasts. The winner of the scholarship will be able to choose one of the two offered courses for this spring’s semester.
Applications are due in the NOHVCC office by Dec. 7. NOHVCC will review the applications and choose a winner in the shortest amount of time possible. For more information regarding the scholarship or to receive an application, contact NOHVCC staff at email@example.com. For additional information regarding the content of the courses, contact Theresa Litteral at firstname.lastname@example.org.