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Home > Feature Articles > Logistics and Vehicle Fleet Management > Off-Road Vehicles

Off-Road Motorcycles Double the Emissions of On-Road Cycles

Off-road motorcycles present a hazard for air quality, as well as destruction of natural and wild terrain.

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Off-road Motorcycles are Dirtier!

Everyone has a different opinion about motorcycles -- and about off-road motorcycles. I'm a mama, so you can guess where my observations and opinions center! Not only are motorcycles dangerous, but the off-road variety also destroy wilderness and natural habitats, not to mention the noise they add to the clutter.

However, to make things even more attention-getting, I learned something from California Air Resources Board that reinforces my concerns:

On average, off-road motorcycle emissions are at minimum twice as dirty compared to on-road models.

In addition, off-highway vehicles do not meet federal motor vehicle safety standards required of on-road motorcycles. There are no street-legal kits or conversions that make an off-road motorcycle legal for on-road use or registration. A motorcycle is either certified by ARB for on-road use or off-road use.

Off-road Vehicle Impact on Wildlands

According to the Sierra Club, "All across America, irresponsible and illegal off-road vehicle (ORV) use - driving all-terrain vehicles, four-wheelers, motorcycles, swamp buggies, jet-skis and snowmobiles off designated routes and into the back country - is threatening our national parks, wildlife refuges and other public lands. Off-road vehicles pollute our air and water, degrade wildlife habitat, and carve countless miles of new roads into wildlands." Why is this more than a tree-huggers' concern? Because wild forests are our core support system for biodiversity, air quality and water quality and storage. All very human benefits that are centered in community discipline regarding the use of wild lands.

Offroad Vehicle cost and benefits
Costs and Benefits of Off-road vehicles.
Illegally created routes erode and compact soil, destroy plants, degrade wildlife habitat and water quality, and spread invasive weeds.

ORVs also emit large amounts of pollution, including carbon monoxide, hydrocarbons, and carcinogens such as benzene. The small, inefficient two-stroke engines of some of these machines spew out as much as 30 percent of their fuel unburned -- polluting the soils, air, and water.

ARB cites Munroe Motors $112,000 for air quality violations

The Air Resources Board fined Munroe Motors of San Francisco $112,000 for illegal sales of off-road motorcycles.

An ARB investigation found that Munroe Motors sold over 20 higher-polluting off-road motorcycles as on-road models between 2004 and 2005.

ARB Enforcement of Clean-Air Laws

"ARB enforcement teams are on the lookout for business owners who unreasonably believe clean-air laws don't apply to them," said ARB Chairman Mary Nichols. "The penalties should send a message that it's just not worth the cost - or headache - to violate the law."

To ensure future compliance with California regulations, Munroe Motors has agreed to make registration documents available for ARB inspection upon request.

The California Air Pollution Control Fund, established to mitigate sources of pollution through education advancement and use of cleaner technology, will receive $103,000. The remaining $9,000 will go to the Attorney General's Office for legal fees.

California's air pollution control efforts include regulating emissions from cars, trucks, buses and motorcycles. Smog can damage lungs, cause coughing and chest tightness, and worsen asthma symptoms while also affecting crop yields.

The Air Resources Board is a department of the California Environmental Protection Agency. ARB's mission is to promote and protect public health, welfare, and ecological resources through effective reduction of air pollutants while recognizing and considering effects on the economy. The ARB oversees all air pollution control efforts in California to attain and maintain health based air quality standards.

Edited by Carolyn Allen, owner/editor of California Green Solutions
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