5 Reasons You Aren’t An AMA Member


Category: HFL

Background photo by Jenn Clark

I’m a 1-percenter. Did you know the American Motorcyclist Association came up with that term? No wait...not the Mitt Romney kind; back in the 1950s the AMA coined that phrase in reference to the 99% of all motorcyclists who are decent, law-abiding citizens and the 1% referred to those who are basically just criminals. No, I’m not a criminal, but let me explain. I’m one of the roughly 1% of all motorcyclists in the U.S. who are AMA members nowadays. How did the AMA lose its relevance? These are the five reasons you aren’t an AMA member.

5 Reasons You Aren’t An AMA Member

Photo by Patrick Daly

You’re Not a Middle-Aged White Dude

95% of AMA members are male.* Ninety-five percent. There’s only two ways to look at a statistic that lopsided. Either this organization has no idea how to get a more diverse membership or it just doesn’t want to. And though I didn’t have access to any information describing membership ethnicity, a quick review of the last three years of their magazine covers paints a pretty clear (as in, white male) picture. You only have to go back seven months to find a cover girl, but you’ll have to dive deep to find a colorful face of the AMA; all the way back to December 2010 (which is actually a quarter-cover; keep on going to August 2010 to find an actual black man/rider/AMA member gracing the cover. Asians? Hispanics? Um, none.

Tyson Beckford with Ben Spies
Tyson Beckford with Ben Spies

Other demographics that make you go hmm...the average age is 48. The average number of years riding is 26 (that’s the average). Is anyone else humming Springsteen right now? “Glory days...”

5 Reasons You Aren’t An AMA Member

Photo by Jane Yesee

As of April 2013, the AMA’s 215,966 members reflected a 9,034-member decrease from the previous year, and the AMA reported a steady decline in the two previous years. I’m not surprised; nobody wants to hang out with their Uncle Walt all the time...not even other uncles.

Adey Bennett in action
Adey Bennett in action.

The Rhetoric

Late in 2011, the AMA brought in Wayne Allard, former US Senator from Colorado, as Vice President for Government Relations (i.e., he’s a lobbyist). I don’t know if it took him awhile to get his bearings, or if he’s just late to the whole speak-your-separatist-mind-and-logic-be-damned party, but Mr. Allard seems hell-bent on painting the AMA red (with embarrassment). Consider these Palin-esque gems:

“...motorcycling’s opponents are hard at work on Capital Hill trying to pass laws to tell us what, when, where, and how we can ride [American Motorcyclist, July 2013]”

Kind of cool to think we motorcyclists rank up there with LGBTs and dreamers to have honest-to-God “opponents” on capital hill, but, yeah...seriously. Get real. We all know it’s those Prius drivers who’ve got America by the balls, anyway. How about this one:

“We need to protect public lands for the people, not from the people [American Motorcyclist, December 2013, after vehemently opposing President Obama’s proclamation to make September National Wilderness Month because it did not specifically mention motorized recreation]”.

Because in the history of the world, people never did anything bad to the earth, right? The President’s proclamation didn’t specifically mention horseback riders, bungee jumpers, or scuba divers either, by the way. Dude, we know you don’t like the guy, but being a thorn in his side has sort of lost its cool.

Allard’s recent get-off-my-lawn insinuation that the Center for Disease Control has no business commenting on helmet use and injury prevention takes the cake, stating simply,

“The AMA doesn’t understand why the Center for Disease Control is involving itself in motorcycling when it’s supposed to be protecting Americans from disease. Motorcycling is not a disease [American Motorcyclist, January 2014]”.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Yes, he really said that. Way to make us all look like Larry the Cable-Guy, Mr. Allard. Even he knows how to Google.

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