The American Motorcyclist Association announced its AMA Motorcyclist of the Year: AMA member and motorcycle activist Nancy Sabater. Awarded annually, the AMA Motorcyclist of the Year designation recognizes the person or persons who had the most profound impact on the world of motorcycling in the previous 12 months.
Sabater, a motorcyclist from Charlotte Hall, Md., earned the distinction for her grassroots advocacy in 2011 to save youth motorcycles and ATVs from a misguided federal law that would have banned their sale on Jan. 1, 2012. The victory over the "lead law" was sealed when President Obama signed legislation overturning the ban on Aug. 12, 2011, ending a three-year battle to save youth riding for future generations.
"A number of partners had a hand in our victory over this misguided law -- the motorcycle industry, race promoters, parts distributors and others," said AMA President and CEO Rob Dingman. "But it's Nancy and those like her -- the individual enthusiasts -- who truly put the rubber to the road, gave our cause a face in the crowd and brought this victory home. They were the most influential motorcyclists of 2011, and AMA member and grassroots activist Nancy Sabater is the AMA Motorcyclist of the Year for her stellar work on behalf of families and kids."
The issue arose in 2009 shortly after Congress passed the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act (CPSIA) of 2008. The law followed reports that inexpensive imported children's toys were testing high for lead content, which presents serious exposure risks for children.
However, the CPSIA was written with such sweeping language that it banned the making, importing, distributing or selling of any product intended for children 12 and under that contained more than a trace amount of lead. This ensnared kids' dirtbikes and ATVs because trace levels of lead can be found in parts such as brake calipers and battery terminals. It did not matter that those parts were extremely unlikely to end up in kids' mouths.
Fixing the lead law hinged on the support of thousands of individual motorcyclists, such as Sabater, who was involved in numerous efforts to generate support to repeal the law. For Sabater, these included two initiatives that preceded the fix itself: the AMA Family Capitol Hill Climb on May 26, 2011 -- which brought families together on Capitol Hill to lobby their lawmakers -- and a number of videos Sabater produced of well-known racers and motocross industry personalities speaking out against the lead law.
"This victory is something that demonstrates the fruits of our labors," Sabater said. "Something really happened here. We effected change. We showed these kids that if you want something hard enough and you work hard enough, that you can get results. Who knows what battles we'll fight next, in D.C., for the AMA, for the rights of motorcyclists? This was a victory on many levels."