The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) today announced the 2009 AMA Motorcyclist of the Year with a departure: This year's recipients are a group, rather than an individual. The winners? Kids who ride motorcycles and all-terrain vehicles (ATVs). America's youngest riders were at the center of the biggest story of the year in 2009, as the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) enforced a ban on selling youth-model off-highway vehicles (OHVs).
Kids like these shown here at a CPSIA protest are the recipients of the 2009 AMA Motorcyclist of the Year Award.
AMA President and CEO Rob Dingman made the announcement at the annual AMA Racing Championship Banquet, presented by KTM North America, being held at the Hard Rock Hotel & Casino Las Vegas.
"The core of the AMA mission is to promote the motorcycle lifestyle and protect the future of motorcycling, and few threats have taken a more direct aim at that lifestyle than the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA), which effectively banned the sale of youth-model OHVs," Dingman said. "The AMA Motorcyclist of the Year is the person or persons who have had the most profound impact on motorcycling in a single calendar year. Although they were unwitting victims, kid motorcycle and ATV riders were thrust into that role in 2009."
The January 2010 issue of American Motorcyclist magazine, which will arrive in members' mailboxes within the next week, includes an in-depth examination of the issue, as well as a report on the importance of motorcycling to young riders and their families. The articles will be available online at AmericanMotorcyclist.com after AMA members have received their magazines.
"This devastating ban could potentially cast aside the hopes and dreams of thousands of young riders and their families," Dingman said. "It is our duty to protect those dreams and re-establish the permanent access that young riders have to youth-model OHVs.
"With the 2009 AMA Motorcyclist of the Year announcement, we want to thank every young rider and his or her family all across America," Dingman said. "By further raising awareness of the issue, we will all gain more ground in this important battle."
At the center of the controversy is the CPSIA provision that strictly reduces the levels of allowable lead in children's toys. Because OHVs include lead in parts such as battery terminals, valve stems, engine cases and controls, the law banned the sale of OHVs intended for kids 12 years old and younger in early 2009.
Thanks to the efforts of AMA members, AMA staff and others, more than 70,000 motorcyclists used online tools provided by the AMA at AmericanMotorcyclist.com to voice opposition to the law. As a direct result, the Consumer Product Safety Commission issued delayed enforcement of the law until 2011. With congressional leaders reluctant to re-write a law that they had just passed, the delay of enforcement was critical to the efforts to resolve the issue because it secured valuable time for the AMA and its allies to continue to pressure regulators and lawmakers to permanently exempt youth-model OHVs from the CPSIA.
"The passion, thoughtfulness and perseverance of AMA members helped us make headway in this fight," said AMA Vice President for Government Relations Ed Moreland. "But we have a long way to go. We urge all motorcyclists to reach out to their representatives so that we can make sure appropriately sized OHVs continue to be available to kids who ride motorcycles and ATVs."
Among the solutions to this issue is H.R. 1587, introduced by U.S. Rep. Denny Rehberg (R-Mont.), which would exempt kids' OHVs from the lead-content provisions of the CPSIA. The AMA strongly encourages motorcyclists to contact their representatives and urge them to support this bill by going to AmericanMotorcyclist.com > Rights > Issues & Legislation.