25 February 2007
American Motorcyclist Association
13515 Yarmouth Drive
Pickerington, OH 43147
I congratulate you on your recent appointment as President of the American Motorcyclist Association (“AMA”). I applaud your commitment to “A New Beginning”, as expressed in your article on page 18 of the March 2007 issue of American Motorcyclist magazine, wherein you state:
“… the AMA has put many changes into place, with more in the works. The single objective of all this is to better enable the organization to deliver in three key areas: rights. riding. racing…. Those three words are more than just the tagline on the Association’s logo. They represent the core of this organization. The AMA has a proud history of protecting your right to ride, of sharing with you the unique experience of motorcycling, and of creating an annual calendar of thousands of amateur and professional races for riders and fans…. To be successful, it is imperative that the Association stick to what it does best.”
These words, however, raise more questions than they answer. For starters, how is it that the AMA will achieve “a new beginning” by sticking to “what it does best”? For that premise to be logically consistent, then you must be tactfully conceding that (a) the AMA has not been doing what it does best, and/or (b) the AMA has not been doing what it is supposed to do. And with a few qualifications, Rob, I am afraid I have to agree with you. Let’s assume for the sake of discussion that (1) it is possible for one organization to simultaneously and effectively focus on three missions, and (2) the three missions of the AMA are those identified as “racing”, “riding” and “rights”:
From what I see as an AMA member, the focus on racing is nothing short of pervasive. Racing content and coverage dominate the AMA website and American Motorcyclist magazine. And if Google Alerts are any measure, then at least 90 percent of the AMA’s press releases must be racing-related. I even receive what appear to be extensive and expensive snailmail packages devoted entirely to the AMA racing agenda.
I don’t spend much time on this portion of the AMA website, but just about every monthly issue of American Motorcyclist magazine contains one to a few articles by writers sharing “…the unique experience of motorcycling”. These pieces provide a refreshing break from the Nationwide/Geico/Progressive/Other insurance ads and colorful pictures of brain-bucketed, body-armored riders that might otherwise dominate that publication.
“Rights” may come first in the AMA tag line, but from every outward appearance, “rights” is the least important of the three AMA missions.
Yes, I know you claim a “… victory in getting federal funding for the first new study of motorcycle crashes in more than a quarter century”. But if it was such a great victory, then why must we pay for the study with our tax dollars, and our AMA membership dollars, and again through individual contributions? And besides the “funding” we got, just how much input did we get regarding the methodology by which the study will be conducted, the data crunched, and the results presented?
And Yes, I am aware of the AMA’s much-touted Justice For All (“JFA”) program. But that model defines right-of-way-violation penalties that are neither severe nor specific to the maiming or killing of motorcyclists. And to date, I have seen no statistics suggesting that any legislation based on JFA has had any measurable impact in terms of reducing the number of motorcycle crashes, injuries and deaths attributable to negligent, care-less, distracted and impaired motorists.
And Yes, I am aware of the somewhat dated “AMA position in support of voluntary helmet use”:
But other than lip service, what is the AMA actually doing to support that position? Why is it that every time a state legislative hearing on mandatory helmet laws is conducted, pro-helmet law lobbyists from the American Automobile Association (AAA) are almost always present, while the AMA remains conspicuous in its absence?
My challenge to you and your AMA management team is a simple one, Rob: Either (a) stop including the word “rights” in the AMA tag line as an enticement for membership dues, or (b) start delivering what your members should expect from an outfit that alleges to be the nation’s largest “motorcyclists’ rights organization”.
Speaking strictly for myself and no other individuals or organizations,
Bruce Arnold aka IronBoltBruce
Bruce on Bikers Rights, Motorcyclists Rights, MROBruce@LdrLongDistanceRider.com
Author and Publisher, LdrLongDistanceRider.com
Co-Moderator, Bruce-n-Ray’s Biker Forum
Premier Member, Iron Butt Association
Sustaining Member, Motorcycle Riders Foundation
Member and Elite Legislative Supporter, American Motorcyclist Association
Until Next Time … Ride Long, Ride Free!