~Since 2004~
A site about memories, thoughts, photos, and unrepentant opinions about motorcycles and motorcycling after four decades of twisting the throttle.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Big Brother Or Just Big Money?

So you think the Tennessee police are being hard on the folks running up and down Deal's Gap? Maybe they are, but take some time to read around the website theNewspaper.com "A journal of the politics of driving" and see what state and local governments in the US, Canada, and other nations are doing to their citizens in the name of "safety."

As nearly as I can tell from reading about the seizure without trial of vehicles merely because they are likely to be used in "street racing" (Canada) to the State of Virginia hammering drivers with outrageous fines to the those wacky Aussies vandalizing speed cameras, it's clear that traffic safety means big money to governments looking for ever new and ingenious ways to tax drivers off the road and into public transportation or maybe just bankruptcy.

Here's one to brighten your day if you live around Pennsylvania. "Pennsylvania to Impose $25 Tax on Driving Across State" Take a read and see if your blood pressure doesn't go up a bit. Hard to believe but it would seem the politicians we elect may not have our best interests at heart. Big Brother isn't just watching you, he's planning on stealing your paycheck. What is worse is that they are proud of it. If I were not already so cynical about government, I'd be shocked.

Friday, August 24, 2007

Stepping On The Dragon's Tail

I love to ride and drive fast but I'm selective about when and where but I freely admit to taking liberties with the speed limit now and again even at this later stage of life. In my twenties there were people who doubted I would make it to thirty but I did and someplace along the way since then I learned to slow down and yet enjoy the ride. Still, the throttle hand can get itchy on a nice road and I give into the need for speed. I've gotten more than one "performance award" over the years one two wheels and four and pretty much deserved them when I was stopped. You play, you eventually pay.

Out east in Tennessee (and also out west and in California) the guys have taken specific twisty roads, turned them into public race tracks, documented their fun with websites and blogs (www.killboy.com) and now are moaning and groaning when the police crack down. Gentlemen, what did you think was going to happen when you have numerous people flaunting the speed laws every single weekend on the same stretch of road for years? There's no shortage of evidence. Go to Google Video and you will find over 1,000 videos if you search on the term "Deal's Gap."

 photo: Killboy.com

I'm really not knocking killboy.com (I read it most every week and enjoy the pictures and captions) or the people who have figured out how to boost tourism around an obscure rural Tennessee road so they can make a living, I'm just saying that when the police finally get enough calls from John Q. Public and also have to work enough traffic accidents on one stretch of road, there are going to be consequences. The government is not going to wink and look the other way when people are being injured and killed just because breaking the law brings in tourist dollars. We all know that fact as surely as politicians love to grandstand on any issue that they can, whether they grasp all the facts or not. Don't whine. You knew in your heart of high RPM hearts that this was bound to happen.

Same goes for the loud pipes chopper guys who are feeling the heat now via city noise laws in places like Denver, CO and Cave Creek, AZ. You Jesse James wannabes knew those straight pipes were not legal, did you think they would be ignored forever because of the silly slogan "Loud pipes save lives"? If you did then you're wearing your official Harley do-rag too tight.

Riders (including me) and drivers have been flaunting the speed laws on popular roads for years because they can, so it's no surprise that when the police do crack down that they get heavy handed about it simply because they can. Cops are human and having riders or drivers blitzing "their road," which is in fact their workplace that they are hired by the public to control, is likely to draw a strong reaction. As Jim Croce sang: "You don't pull the mask off the ol' Lone Ranger..."

I've read recently that Mullholland Drive in SoCal is getting much the same treatment as Deals Gap and the road up Palomar Mountain (my old stomping grounds) has been under the police microscope more than once and even suffered vigilante backlash from residents in the area. You challenge the cop's authority on the road you're going to lose. Get real, folks, and move on. There are other great roads in TN and other great roads in California. Are you riding to enjoy the ride or riding to be seen and show off? Spread out and have your fun but don't make yourself a nuisance. And when you get popped, take your medicine like man.

A little TN police hypocrisy in action. photo via www.killboy.com

I'll say too that some of the stories of tickets written by the TN cops and the pictures of patrol cars themselves violating the law are convincing enough to say that the police are misguided in their heavy handedness and ultimately making enemies instead of changing attitudes or making friends. Was it really necessary to have fourteen patrol cars on eleven miles of road? Necessary to write tickets to tourists for 35 mph in a 30 mph zone? That's just stupid. One patrol car at each end and one in the middle of the Gap would have been enough to spoil the fun and make the point with the most egregious violators.

Thumbs down to the knee draggers and crazies who thought they could flaunt the speed laws forever and get away with it and thumbs down to the Tennessee highway patrol guys and country police for acting more like Sheriff Buford T. Justice than professional law enforcement officers.

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"When my mood gets too hot and I find myself wandering beyond control I pull out my motor-bike and hurl it top-speed through these unfit roads for hour after hour." - T.E. Lawrence

An Important reminder from the past:
"I believe there are more instances of the abridgment of the freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations." - James Madison