The U.S. Senate has approved a bill that extends the
embattled Recreational Trails Program (RTP) that provides funding for trails,
and the federal motorcyclist safety grant program, for nearly two more years,
the American Motorcyclist Association (AMA) reports.
"Motorcyclists and all-terrain vehicle riders by the thousands spoke about
the benefits of the Recreational Trails Program and the fact that it's funded
by off-highway vehicle users, and federal lawmakers listened," Wayne
Allard, AMA vice president for government relations, said.
"We want to thank all the AMA members and others who contacted their
lawmakers asking them to preserve the RTP," Allard said. "It was a
hard-fought battle in the U.S. Senate and we are going to keep a close watch on
the legislation to try to ensure that the language remains in the bill when it
goes to the U.S. House of Representatives for further consideration, and then
to the president to be signed into law."
On March 14, the full Senate approved S.1813, "Moving Ahead for Progress
in the 21st Century," known as MAP-21. This bill authorizes transportation
funding through fiscal 2013, which ends Sept. 30, 2013, maintains the RTP and
provides $6 million a year for funding state programs that focus on
motorcyclist safety. The AMA has long promoted motorcycle rider education and
motorist awareness programs as essential strategies to prevent motorcycle
As originally written, S. 1813 would have effectively ended the RTP by severing
the program from its dedicated funding. But Sen. Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.) and
several bipartisan cosponsors offered an amendment to S. 1813, which was
approved by the full Senate, to continue the RTP.
On the House side, H.R. 7, the transportation bill titled the "American
Energy and Infrastructure Jobs Act of 2012" included $85 million a year
through fiscal 2016 for the RTP and funding for state motorcycle safety
programs. After passing the House committees that shared jurisdiction of the
subject matter in the bill, the House leadership is debating its options on
what version of the transportation bill to consider.
Because the Senate bill may become the vehicle, the Senate language was
extremely important if the RTP was to be saved.
Funds for the RTP come from the federal Highway Trust Fund and represent a
portion of the federal motor fuel excise tax collected from non-highway
recreational fuel use. In other words, taxes generated by fuel used for
off-highway vehicle recreation-by snowmobiles, all-terrain vehicles,
off-highway motorcycles and off-highway light trucks-fund the RTP.
The RTP provides funds to the states to develop and maintain recreational
trails and trail-related facilities for both non-motorized and motorized recreational
trail uses. The RTP is an assistance program of the U.S. Transportation
Department's Federal Highway Administration. The RTP program benefits hiking,
bicycling, in-line skating, equestrian use, cross-country skiing, snowmobiling,
off-road motorcycling, ATV riding, four-wheel driving or using other off-road