AMERICAN MOTORCYCLIST MARCH 2020

State and Local Update

 

Arizona

H.B. 2285, introduced by state Rep. Noel W. Campbell (R-Prescott), would make it legal for motorcyclists to overtake and pass another vehicle that is stopped in the same direction of travel in the same lane if the street is divided into at least two adjacent traffic lanes in the same direction of travel, the speed limit does not exceed 45 mph and the motorcyclist is traveling at 15 mph or slower.

California

Riverside County officials are considering buying the Lake Elsinore Motorsports Park and reopening it for special events and for off-road recreation, according to a report in the Press-Enterprise.

The facility, which closed in early 2019, is an almost-300-acre site.

County officials say that they have been trying to develop a similar park either in the Badlands area near Gilman Springs Road east of Moreno Valley, or near the Salton Sea in the eastern Riverside County desert.

Idaho

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management’s Pocatello field office is moving forward with three recreational improvements in Southeast Idaho, one of which involves off-highway access.

To help fund these recreation enhancements, the field office is applying for grants through the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation and is seeking public comment related to the projects.

The proposed projects are:

Improving trail systems in the Soda Hills and Bear Lake areas. This project involves installing new route markers along designated routes, installing Travel Management Area signs and kiosks, and revising and printing travel plan maps that reflect the designated routes on the ground.

Developing a nonmotorized watercraft launch site along the Blackfoot River below the Blackfoot Reservoir dam.

Improvements to the boat ramp and trailer parking area at the Maple Grove campground.

As part of the grant application process, the field office is asking for public input. Send comments to cpatterson@blm.gov or by mail to Bureau of Land Management, Attn: Chuck Patterson, 4350 Cliffs Drive, Pocatello, ID 83204.

Additional background information is available at www.blm.gov/press-release/blm-seeks-public-input-proposed-recreation-projects-southeast-idaho or contact the Pocatello field office at (208) 478-6340.

Maine

A task force appointed by Gov. Janet Mills (D) has recommended a limit on the size and weight of ATVs that can be used on state-maintained trails.

The proposed limits are 65 inches wide and 2,000 pounds.

The task force also recommended a standardized annual trail inspection process, a communications campaign for landowners and ATV riders, and increased fees.

The task force report also stated that nearly half of the state’s ATV trail system could close if the state doesn’t pay for the widening and maintenance of the trails to accommodate larger vehicles if the limits aren’t put into place.

There were 72,000 ATVs registered in Maine in 2019, according to a report in the Portland Press Herald.

Maryland

The Baltimore Police Department is continuing its efforts to stop the illegal use of dirt bikes and ATVs on city streets and is asking the public to provide information to help identify unlicensed riders.

The Dirt Bike Violators Task Force is asking the public for information about suspects, stolen dirt bike storage locations or other tips. Anyone with information may call (443) 902-4474 or email dirtbiketips@baltimorepolice.org.

Under city statute, no person may ride a dirt bike or other unregistered motorcycle on either public or private property within the city. It’s even illegal to possess an unregistered dirt bike or motorcycle. Further, no service station may sell or dispense fuel for delivery into an unregistered vehicle.

Massachusetts

The AMA sent a letter of support for H. 3064 and S. 2077, which would introduce responsible motorcycle lane splitting to Massachusetts, but did not take a position on a provision of the bills that would allow riders to use the road shoulder or breakdown lanes.

Lane splitting would be permitted when two or more designated lanes of travel in the same direction are traveling at speeds of 10 mph or slower. The rider would not be allowed to travel faster than 25 mph.

Minnesota

State officials have created an Outdoor Recreation Task Force to identify economic and participation opportunities for the state’s outdoor recreation resources. The effort to create the task force came from the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and Explore Minnesota. The 20-member task force is one of 17 in the country designed to maximize the social and economic benefits of outdoor activity.

Missouri

The Kansas City council approved a ban on texting while driving for all motorists within the city limits, as part of its Vision Zero initiative to reduce traffic crashes, injuries and fatalities.

State law prohibits drivers younger than 21 from engaging in distractions while driving.

The city of Columbia already has adopted similar legislation.

Also, the Freedom of Road Riders is again asking state lawmakers to repeal the mandatory helmet law. Although Gov. Mike Parson (D) vetoed a repeal last year, as a state legislator he supported legislation permitting helmet choice.

New York

Following his veto of state legislation in December that would have regulated electric bicycles and scooters, Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) outlined a plan in January to legalize the vehicles statewide.

“One thing is clear: We need an alternative to automobiles, to driving in New York City. The volume is paralyzing, the cost is prohibitive, it is environmentally destructive, and I believe we’re at a point where we’ll see a major transition,” Cuomo said at a press conference.

The governor said the earlier legislation did not sufficiently regulate speed limits for ebikes and scooters or require use of a safety helmet.

In the January plan, Cuomo proposed New York recognized three classes of ebikes: Class 1, pedal assist up to 20 mph; Class 2, throttle assist up to 20 mph; and Class 3, throttle assist up to 25 mph, with those ebikes allowed only in Manhattan.

Cuomo also would require riders to be at least 16 years old. The vehicles would be banned from sidewalks, except for parking, and would be restricted to use on roadways where the speed limit is 30 mph or slower.

The plan also would require escooter riders younger than 18 and all Class 3 ebike riders to wear a helmet.

There is a provision in the plan that allows local governments to amend the rules or opt out.

Ohio

Ohio motorcyclists would be allowed to use earplugs while riding under a bill passed by the state legislature and forwarded to Gov. Mike DeWine.

It currently is illegal to use headphones or earplugs while riding in Ohio.

The use of earplugs can help protect riders’ hearing from the noise caused by wind, loud exhaust notes or other traffic.

The new law (H.B. 129) would still prohibit the use of earphones for listening to music or other entertainment while riding. The definition of earphones does not include speakers or other listening devices that are built into protective headgear.

Also, the Wayne National Forest is seeking public review of a draft assessment, the first step in revising the plan that guides management of the forest.

The draft assessment outlines ecological, social and economic changes on the forest and surrounding area. Public input will help determine what is important to local communities and the people who use and care about the forest.

The Wayne National Forest is in the assessment phase of a three-phase process that also includes plan development and implementation and monitoring. The goal is to evaluate relevant current conditions and trends in the forest and southeastern Ohio. Release of the draft assessment begins a 45-day public review period and can be viewed at https://tinyurl.com/tblu35b.

Submit input through the online commenting system (https://tinyurl.com/v5vawgh). Input can also be submitted by letter to Forest Plan Revision Assessment Feedback, Wayne National Forest, 13700 Highway 33, Nelsonville, OH 45764, or by phone at (740) 753-0555.

Questions should be directed to the forest plan revision team at (740) 753-0555 or wayneplanrevision@usda.gov.

Pennsylvania

The Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources is reviewing its policies to respond to increasing demand for ATV riding opportunities and is seeking public comment.

The review was prompted by the lifting of a moratorium on new trails.

DCNR conducted a 2016 survey of ATV users on their views of recreational opportunities. There were more than 4,800 responses, with results indicating a strong desire for more long-distance trails. Pennsylvania has approximately 285,000 registered ATVs. On state forest lands, ATV riding is allowed only on designated trails.

The state has more than 260 miles of ATV trails in state forests.

Written comments may be submitted to PaForester@pa.gov. The deadline to submit comments is March 27.

South Carolina

H. 3355 would prohibit the use of electronic devices while driving. Introduced by state Rep. Bill Taylor (R-Aiken), the offense would be known as “Driving Under the Influence of an Electronic Device (or DUI-E).”

Utah

ABATE of Utah is seeking to make manually manipulating a mobile device by drivers a primary offense, supporting H.B.101, sponsored by state Rep. Carol Moss (D-Holladay).

Cell phone use while driving has been prohibited in Utah since 2009, but it is a secondary offense, meaning that drivers cannot be stopped merely for that violation.

A report in the Salt Lake Tribune says that the current law also makes it difficult to enforce a law prohibiting texting while driving. Police report that when they pull over people they see texting, they often claim to have been merely dialing a phone number.

Vermont

Towns and cities across northern Vermont are trying to increase ATV traffic to boost business in a region suffering from declining population and a sluggish economy, according to a report from Vermont Public Radio.

Business owners are urging local governments—including those in Newport and Granby—to allow ATVs on city streets, so riders can spend money at restaurants, stores and service stations. And hotel operators want the patrons that would come from increased use of the state’s ATV trails.

Virginia

State Delegate Tony Wilt (R-Broadway) introduced a bill that would allow lane filtering in Virginia under certain conditions, but the bill failed to emerge from committee following a 3-3 tie vote.

H.B. 1236 would have allowed motorcyclists to move between traffic that is stopped or moving at 10 mph or slower, as long as the motorcyclist is on a road with two or more lanes in each direction, the motorcyclist does not exceed 20 mph while filtering, and the maneuver can be performed safely.

West Virginia

A bill introduced in both the House and Senate would allow motorcyclists to ride without a helmet.

H.B. 2070 and S.B. 153 would allow those 21 years or older to operate or be a passenger on a motorcycle without a helmet if they have held a motorcycle license for a minimum of two years.

Wisconsin

The Monroe County Highway Department received requests from ATV clubs to approve off-road vehicle routes on segments of several county highways appropriate for ATV travel.

The segments total 24 miles, in addition to the 219 miles of county highways that have previously been approved by the Monroe County Board of Supervisors.

More than 60 percent of the county’s highway system has been opened to off-road traffic.