National and Regional News
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The AMA is calling on the U.S. Department of Transportation to include motorcyclists in its ambitious plan to eliminate fatalities on the nation’s roadways. The plan, called Road to Zero, is an adaptation of the Swedish Vision Zero program that forces planners to design transportation systems with the safety of people as the highest priority, rather than the movement of vehicles. During its announcement of Road to Zero, the DOT failed to mention motorcyclists, even though bicyclists, pedestrians and joggers were singled out for attention. The AMA sent a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, urging the inclusion of motorcyclists as part of the coalition or on committees as they are formed. The coalition includes the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Federal Highway Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Safety Council.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – With the development of autonomous vehicles well underway, the AMA is contacting manufacturers and software developers to ensure that motorcycles are considered and accounted for in this new technology. Most recently, the AMA wrote a letter to Google’s autonomous vehicle effort, Alphabet Inc., urging the company to ensure that its software and sensors recognize motorcycles on the roadway and trigger immediate and appropriate responses.
WASHINGTON, D.C. – Seven governors of Midwest states have asked the White House and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to lift a restriction on the summertime sale of fuels that contain 15 percent ethanol by volume. An EPA waiver allows E10 fuel to be sold year round. But no E15 may be sold between June 1 and Sept. 15 each year, because the blend would exceed the summer limit on how readily the fuel will vaporize and pollute the atmosphere.
The bipartisan group of governors is seeking a waiver for E15, saying that there is no scientific basis for the EPA position on summertime sales of the fuel. About 300 of the 150,000 fuel stations nationwide sell E15, but ethanol fuel advocates hope to increase that number substantially. The AMA opposes the expanded sale of E15, because the fuel is not approved for use in motorcycles or all-terrain vehicles, and its widespread availability would increase the chance of misfueling.
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Expansion of the Carnegie Off-Road Vehicle Park near Livermore received approval from the state Off Highway Motor Vehicle Park Commission in October. The commission voted 7-0 in favor of the plan to expand the 1,551-acre park to 3,100 acres. Planners said they have a balanced plan to increase recreational opportunities while protecting sensitive resources and wildlife. Opponents of the plan threatened to sue to stop the expansion.
GARFIELD COUNTY, Colo. – County commissioners gave preliminary approval to an ordinance that would allow off-highway vehicles to use some county roads if the operators are 16 or older and hold a driver’s license or carry liability insurance. County Sheriff Lou Vallario says the OHV riders could use the roads for recreation, not for daily driving. Local economic development officials hope the ordinance will provide a boost for area businesses when OHV riders begin using county roads to traverse between trails.
FROSTBURG, Md. – The state’s first modern off-road-vehicle trail received approval in October from the state Board of Public Works. The St. John's Rock Road trail in Garrett County features single-track hare scramble sections, technical spur trails, internal loops, pull-offs and a rock crawling area. The facility also includes a campsite tailored for off-road vehicles. The estimated cost for the project is $1.4 million. Completion is scheduled for late spring or early summer 2017. Part of the funding came from the federal Recreational Trail Program.
LANSING, Mich. – A new bill would put an end to cellphone-to-ear conversations for drivers. Under the proposed law, sponsored by state Rep. Martin Howrylak (R-Troy), hands-free phone use would still be permitted. First offenders would face a $250 fine. Subsequent violations would carry a $500 fine and one point on the driver’s license. Texting while driving already is illegal in Michigan.
FORT ANN, N.Y. – After a five-month effort, AMA member Jeremy Treadway received approval from the Fort Ann, N.Y., Planning Board for a 4,300-foot motocross track on a 106-acre site that formerly was a golf course. Among the conditions imposed by the board are sound tests for each vehicle operating at the track to ensure a 105 decibel maximum, an April-to-October season, a limit of 20 motorcycles on the track at one time and adherence to AMA competition rules, which requires the organization to charter with the association and maintain a sanction for all events. Treadway’s attorney says he and Treadway suggested some of the stipulations as a way to help ensure approval for the project.
COLUMBUS, Ohio – Owners of autocycles can drive them without a motorcycle endorsement under a law (H.B. 429) went into effect in September. The three-wheeled vehicles, such as the Polaris Slingshot, sport side-by-side seating, steering wheels and other car-like features. Polaris operates a facility in Wilmington, Ohio. State Rep. Niraj Antani, who sponsored the bill, said all of the state’s public safety personnel supported the change.
BLANDING, Utah – The U.S. Bureau of Land Management is considering six proposals for recreational opportunities in Recapture Canyon near Blanding, Utah, where protestors staged an ATV ride in 2015 that landed a county commissioner in jail. San Juan County officials applied for a right of way for motorized access nearly 10 years ago. The BLM closed parts of the canyon to off-highway vehicles in 2007, citing damage to cultural artifacts. Local residents objected and said the agency failed to follow the federally mandated review process. The BLM environmental assessment will include options for hiking, mountain biking, horseback riding, camping and off-highway-vehicle use. County officials proposed an 11.7-mile trail system for ATV use. And another plan calls for 13.7 miles of mixed-used trails.
ST. GEORGE, Utah – Off-highway recreation will be affected by a land swap involving the Red Cliffs Desert Reserve and the Long Valley area of Washington County, Utah. As part of the arrangement, the U.S. Bureau of Land Management would receive 80 acres within the reserve from developer Bob Brennan. Brennan would receive 605 acres in Long Valley. Both parcels are valued at $7.7 million. The Red Cliffs Desert Reserve is an area set aside as habitat for the threatened Mojave Desert tortoise. Utah off-highway riders are concerned that development on the Long Valley property would impinge on their opportunities for responsible motorized recreation. The BLM began a 45-day protest period when it published a notice Oct. 7. Those wishing to protest the land exchange should contact the BLM field office manager at St. George Field Office, 345 E. Riverside Drive, St. George, Utah. Or submit a protest by fax to (435) 688-3252.
SANTA MONICA, Calif – As part of its vision for the company’s next 100 years, BMW Motorrad unveiled a concept motorcycle featuring a zero-emissions power plant, self-balancing capabilities, a flexible frame, advanced stability systems and a visor with a display that changes with the rider’s head movements. The company says the design and technology will make riding more enjoyable and safer. The controlling computer would monitor all input, then suggest changes to the rider or make adjustments itself. The visor would allow the rider to get a rear view, directions or information about speed and lean angle. The visor also could warn the rider of impending collisions.
TOKYO – Honda Motor Co., Ltd. and Yamaha Motor Co., Ltd. may join to produce scooters for the Japanese market. The companies began discussions in October toward a business alliance in the “Class-1 category,*” which includes scooters with a 50cc engine or electric motor. The market for the Class-1 category in Japan has been shrinking in recent years, and motorcycle manufacturers are facing challenges, including compliance with safety standards and emissions regulations, that will become more stringent. Among the plans for collaboration are development of 50cc business scooters, development of electric motorcycles and jointly producing 50cc scooters as an original equipment manufacturer.
MILWAUKEE, Wis. – The Harley-Davidson Motor Co. plans to lay off about 225 salaried workers before the end of 2016. When making the announcement, the company blamed a sluggish U.S. motorcycle market as the reason it needs to cut costs. Seventy contractors also will be affected by the cuts.
MILWAUKEE, Wis. – Harley-Davidson motorcycles are the coolest thing made in Wisconsin, according to the Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce business group. The motorcycles beat finalists Johnsonville Sausage bratwurst and Fincantieri Marinette Marine's littoral combat ships produced for the U.S. Navy. The business group received more than 200 nominations for the award. More than 20,000 people voted on more than 30 products.
TORONTO – The Canadian Motorcycle Hall of Fame has announced its Induction Class of 2016. In the competitor class are AMA Motorcycle Hall of Famer Miguel Duhamel, Buddy Ford Sr., Peter Hurst, Gary McKinnon, Pascal Piccotte and Carl Vaillancourt. In the contributor category are Leo Bouchard, Serge Huard and Carlo Paladino. Historical inductees are contributor Jack Canfield and competitor Bruce Hickey. The induction ceremony is scheduled for Feb. 25 at the Sheraton Montreal Airport Hotel in Montreal, Quebec. For more information, check www.canmoto.ca.
LONDON – The Motorcycle Action Group is protesting a new tax on non-compliant motorcycles that is part of the city’s Ultra Low Emissions Zone. The government plans to charge those motorcyclists the same daily fee of about $15 that car drivers pay. MAG leaders argue that motorcycles and other powered two-wheelers are a vital part of London’s plan to relieve congestion, and adding the daily tax will discourage motorcycle use. A 2011 Transport for London study showed that trips for all types of motorcycles produce far less carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxide than cars, when emissions from the same real-time trips are compared.
PUNE, India – The Tork company has launched India’s first electric motorcycle, the T6X. The company claims the T6X range is 62 miles on a full battery, and the cruising speed is 62 mph. The lithium-ion battery pack can be charged to 80 percent in an hour. The bike is targeted at city commuters. Tork has set up six charging points in Pune, hoping to reach 100 by December. The electric motorcycles will sell for about $1,900.
HA NAM PROVINCE, Vietnam – Honda Vietnam celebrated its 20 millionth unit of motorcycle production at its Ha Nam factory. Company officials say the milestone reflects Honda Vietnam’s significant contribution to the country’s motorcycle business and demonstrates the company’s commitment to long-term investment in the country. Honda Vietnam began operations in 1996 and produced its first motorcycle in December 1997.
ORLANDO, Fla. – The AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame inducted eight new members and honored an existing member as a Hall of Fame Legend on Thursday evening at the AMA Motorcycle Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, presented by Husqvarna Motorcycles, during the opening day of the American International Motorcycle Expo in Orlando, Fla. Master of ceremonies Perry King and host Laurette Nicoll presented the compelling stories of the Class of 2016 to the audience, which included the inductees' families, friends and fans. The newest Hall of Famers are: motorcycling pioneer Gloria Tramontin-Struck, desert racing champion and tuner Chris Haines, the late motorcycle designer and engineer Charles Franklin, race frame builder Jeff Cole, road racing champion Miguel Duhamel, dirt track racer Ronnie Jones, desert racing champion Jack Johnson and engine builder and tuner Dennis Mahan.
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