PICKERINGTON, Ohio -- The American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) is asking some pointed questions related to motorcycling priorities following a news conference by a powerful U.S. House committee chairman.
Rep. John Mica (R-Fla.), chairman of the House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure, held a news conference on July 7 to roll out some of the priorities that he intends to include in his forthcoming proposed national transportation bill. If it is introduced, approved by the full Congress and signed into law by the president, the bill would guide federal transportation spending for the next six years.
Mica's proposal would spend only $230 billion, far less than the $566 billion sought by President Obama's administration.
In a letter to Mica dated July 11, AMA Washington Representative Rick Podliska outlined the AMA's position on a variety of issues crucial to motorcyclists and asked several questions in light of the proposed spending cuts.
For example, Podliska asked whether Mica's proposal would: bar states from using federal funds for motorcycle-only traffic checkpoints; continue to prohibit lobbying at the state level by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA); continue to designate funds for motorcycle rider education and awareness programs; and continue the Recreational Trails Program (RTP) which uses a modest amount of the revenue collected from fuel taxes paid by off-highway riders to help pay for state trail projects.
AMA President and CEO Rob Dingman has previously stated that abolishing the RTP program would effectively create a tax increase on off-highway riders (OHV) because the RTP funds would no longer be designated for a program that benefits motorized users.
Podliska also noted that Mica, during his news conference, discussed "performance measures" as a way to improve state highway safety efforts. Podliska asked whether performance measures would be applied to states with high motorcycle crash rates so that those states would be required to spend more federal funding to reduce the number of crashes.
In addition, Podliska wrote that Mica appeared to be pushing for more public-private partnerships. Podliska asked whether Mica's proposals would, for example, require private companies operating public roads to continue to allow motorcycles to use those roads.