March Motorcycle News
|MOTORCYCLISTS REAP REWARDS FROM ECONOMIC STIMULUS PACKAGE||
Motorcycling will reap some benefits from the historic two-year, $787 billion economic recovery and stimulus bill recently signed into law by President Barack Obama. Language in HR 1, the largest spending measure ever enacted by Congress, provides for a tax credit for people buying new passenger cars and light-duty trucks, and now thanks to eleventh hour lobbying efforts by motorcycle groups and manufacturers, federal tax relief will extend to purchasers of new motorcycles as well.
Section 1008 of the legislation includes motorcycles as "qualified vehicles", and individuals purchasing a new motorcycle will be allowed to deduct the sales and excise taxes on their 2009 tax returns.
Four senators successfully lobbied for including motorcycles in the compromise measure: Bob Casey, D-Pa.; Christopher Bond, R-Mo., Russell Feingold, D-Wis., and Herb Kohl, D-Wis.
"The issues of consumer confidence and tight credit markets have not evaded motorcycle dealers," the four senators wrote to congressional leaders who put the finishing touches on the stimulus bill. "The effect of the downturn not only impacts the dealers - it has hurt manufacturers as well."
Expansion of the tax credit should attract more motorcycle buyers, Feingold said in a joint press release with Kohl. To be eligible for this "above the line" tax deduction, you must make less than $125,000 ($250,000 for those filing jointly) and purchase a new bike in 2009 for up to $49,500.
CONGRESSIONAL COMMITTEE APPROVES BILL TO PROTECT HEALTH INSURANCE FOR RIDERS
On March 4, by voice vote, the House Energy and
Commerce Committee passed bipartisan legislation to strengthen health
insurance coverage for injuries incurred while participating in legal
recreational and transportation activities, such as motorcycling, riding
ATVs, snowmobiling and horseback riding.
UTAH MAY REWARD HELMET WEARERS
In a unique and interesting twist to mandatory helmet laws, the state of Utah is considering a bill that would reward riders who break the law while wearing a helmet.
The House Transportation Committee unanimously approved a proposal from Rep.
Ronda Rudd Menlove (R-Garland) that would knock $10 off of the fine for motorcyclists cited for traffic violations if they are wearing a helmet at the time.
"Instead of just punishment, why not give an incentive for people to use a helmet?," Menlove told the Standard-Examiner newspaper.
The committee also unanimously tabled a bill that would mandate helmet use for all riders in Utah's largest cities.&nb sp; Additionally, the measure would have increased the age limit at which motorcycle riders in Utah are required to wear helmets from 18 to 21; require anyone riding with a passenger under 21 to wear a helmet; and require riders of any age operating on a learning permit to wear a helmet.
A contingent of bikers came to the committee meeting to voice their opposition to the bill. Eric Stine, education coordinator for ABATE Utah, said the focus of motorcycle safety should be on educating the public about watching for motorcyclists while driving. "We believe in accident prevention, not safer crashes. Many sports and activities are more dangerous than motorcycle riding. We will never be able to legislate the risk out of living."
MOTORCYCLES IMPROVE BRAIN FUNCTION
| Riding motorcycles
helps keep drivers young by invigorating their brains, the scientist behind
popular "Brain Training" computer software said recently, citing
a new scientific study. "The driver's brain gets activated by riding
motorbikes" in part because it requires heightened alertness, Japanese
neuroscientist Ryuta Kawashima said after his research team and Yamaha
Motor conducted a string of experiments involving middle-aged men.
"In a convenient and easy environment, the human mind and body get used to setting the hurdle low," he warned. "Our final conclusion is that riding motorcycles can lead to smart ageing."
Kawashima is the designer of "Brain Training" software, which incorporates quizzes and other games and is available on the Nintendo DS game console under the name "Brain Age".
A self-professed motorcycle fan, 49-year-old Kawashima cited a new study conducted jointly by Yamaha and Tohoku University, for which he works.
One experiment involved 22 men in their 40s and 50s who held motorcycle licenses but had not operated a cycle for at least a decade. They were randomly split into two groups, with one asked to resume riding motorcycles in everyday life for two months, and another that kept using bicycles or cars. Kawashima says research showed the motorcycle-riding team demonstrated improvements in memory, space recognition and other functions of the prefrontal area. The area covers memory, information processing and concentration functions.
"The group that rode motorbikes posted higher marks in cognitive function tests," Kawashima said.
In a test requiring the men to remember a set of numbers in reverse order, the riders' scores jumped by more than 50 percent in two months, while the non-riders' marks deteriorated slightly, he said.
The riders also said they made fewer mistakes at work and felt happier.
"Mental care is a very big issue in modern society," said Kawashima. "I think we made an interesting stir here as data showed you can improve your mental condition simply by using motorbikes to commute."
In 2003, Kawashima authored "Train Your Brain: 60 Days to a Better Brain".
More recently, he teamed with Toyota to help develop intelligent cars designed to help seniors drive safely.
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