29 June 2008

Motorcycles in the Canyon, Part One

All right, let's just say this right off the bat: there are many, many motorcyclists who drive the canyon with respect for speed limits and with a minimum of noise; riders who enjoy the canyon for a little weekend (or weekdays, less often) cruise. In fact, as with drivers of cars and trucks, it is perfectly correct to say that a majority of motorcyclists drive the canyon safely and reasonably.
However, there are too often times when this is just not the case. Case in point: today, my wife with my two sons in the car was driving westbound on the Brea side when a motorcyclist passed her going at a very high speed and doing a wheelie.

So, let's review: Carbon Canyon Road (State Highway 142) is a two-lane, curvy road on which there is no passing allowed. The cyclist was going at a high rate of speed, well above the 45 mph limit. And, the best part of all: this person was doing a wheelie in the opposite lane.
I've been passed on this road by motorcyclists many times in my four years here. I've been awakened late at night many times by riders letting their throttles out or racing through at high speeds. Whatever decibel level is generated by this noise is only exacerbated by the high canyon walls which act to amplify the sound.

I have a co-worker who has insisted that motorcycles like that owned by her husband have loud mufflers so that other drivers can hear them and, thereby, preventing accidents. Sorry, but I just don't buy that, at least not for all or most cases. There are lots and lots of cyclists who have loud mufflers because they like that full-throated roar and feel that this gets them some kind of attention. Excepting the few women cyclists I've seen, you can bet your bottom dollar that testosterone drives both the need for speed and the desire for a roaring muffler.

I just wish that more people gave consideration to the noise pollution, as well as the air pollution, that we have to put up with, obviously not just in the canyon but everywhere in our region. But asking for consideration, not just with motorcyclists, but other drivers, is like asking for people to change their behavior when it comes to gas guzzling vehicles. The sad reality is that too many people are selfish, self-absorbed, ignorant or just downright unconcerned about the effect their actions have for others.
So, let me just say once again that I am acknowledging that most motorycle riders drive the canyon sensibly. But, there are an awful lot who act as if there are no residents here. If the tables were turned (shoe on the other foot, etc.) they would know exactly what I'm talking about.
It's just fortunate that the rider who passed my wife today doing a wheelie in the opposing lane while going at an excessive speed didn't hit someone else or crash and injure or kill themselves, though I have to wonder if it really matters if the latter were to happen. After all, actions theoretically should have consequences. But, if they did, we'd have more police patrols here.
There'll be more on the issue of dangerous driving in the canyon!

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