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September QuickThrottle Column

Finishing up working on my October column a bit early -- I'm headed out on a bike trip/writing assignment into Northern Idaho tomorrow, then swinging down to Portland for the 21st Anniversary Party of the gallery that carries my photography there and in Palm Springs over the weekend, Brian Marki Fine Art http://www.brianmarki.com. Since I'll be on the road over a week I needed to get it off my to-do list, and so I'll post this month's one here as well.

Sometimes when I go riding I do so to just forget about stuff -- to relax, to unwind, to enjoy the wind in my face and the sun on my back, the roar of the engine, and the (hopefully and except in Seattle) empty road ahead of me. In Seattle there is never an empty road ahead of me unless it’s 2am. And in blanking my mind, it tends to drift, and then I start wondering about all sorts of strange things.  For instance:

•    Why do only Harley-Davidson bikes have individual turn signal activators appropriate for the direction one is turning under the thumb of the left or right hand corresponding to the direction one is turning? Surely this can’t be a patented device that only HD has. Why does no other bike manufacturer do this?  These new Indian’s are fantastic bikes, and I’m tempted to get one. But Indian’s largest complaint – coming from I’m guessing former Harley owners – is that the turn signal is only on one handlebar and it’s a toggle left/toggle right affair. At the price they are charging for a ride and their target market being Harley riders you would think this fixing this would be a no-brainer. I might wait to get the Indian ‘till they fix this. I can’t unlearn correct turn signals – it’s like converting from a Mac to a PC.
•    I have an ORCA card to use on Seattle’s bus system. It’s a fare card with a chip in it that a reader reads when you board and debits your account. It also works on Sound Transit trains, and Pierce and Everett Transit. So why on earth doesn’t the Washington State Ferry system have something similar? A sticker with a bar code I can put on my windshield of my bike (or truck for that matter) that the attendant can scan with their little hand-held gun that will debit my account, and I get on the boat. I take the ferry fairly often – mainly to go from my home in West Seattle to Port Orchard see my friend Mike, the publisher of this august publication so we can pretend to have a business meeting at Moon Dog’s tavern and eat greasy cheeseburgers and hand cut fries. I get tired of having to go on line, buy a ticket with my credit card, print it out (with a bar code for them to scan), and then take that to the toll booth or the guy directing loading, and have them scan it.  Same credit card each time. Couldn’t this be a bar code sticker attached to the vehicle? This is after all Seattle – techie capital of the world. Surely someone at WSF could implement this right?
•    I’m still wondering how in the world Washington DOT bought a HOT lane toll reading system for I-405 that can’t distinguish a motorcycle plate from a car or truck one. My three-year-old nephew can – he points it out all the time. “Truck” he says. “Car” he points out. “Motorcy” (sounds like motor-sigh) he cheerfully says, which is his favorite – he can’t however say “cul” apparently.  Neither apparently can WashDOT.
•    Why does the news media assume that everyone who rides a motorcycle is somehow affiliated with or is a member of a biker gang? The Seattle Times, two days into the Sturgis Rally had a headline that said:  “No Sign Of Waco Violence Spilling Into Sturgis Biker Rally.” Really? Hundreds of thousands of folks gathered to enjoy riding the Black Hills and hanging out with friends and drinking way too much and they expect a “Sons of Anarchy” episode to break out? In reality Sturgis is for adults what spring-break is for college kids -- only everyone is middle aged. I mean if they only knew that the majority of Sturgis attendees were fifty-something slightly overweight balding white guys who showed up to Sturgis in their fifth-wheel trailers and toy carriers to hold their bike. Arial shots of the campgrounds this year looked like giant mobile home parks. I guess we were lucky there were no tornados touching down.
But enough of my wonderings. I wanted to also give well-deserved kudos to the combined efforts of the Confederation of Clubs, Washington State ABATE, and the U.S. Defenders for their unified effort to remind law enforcement in Washington that they need to pay attention to their own laws. It seems that our “friends” at the Washington Traffic Safety Commission (the same ones whose exaggerated and false testimony in Olympia pretty much killed the lane-splitting bill) decided that it was time for some targeted “Motorcycle Safety Patrols” starting the first of August. You know those joint efforts coordinated by the Commission and law enforcement to go after bikers rather than the cars that pay no attention to bikers. They even sent out a press release announcing it and posted it on their web page.

I guess the WSTC forgot about that little portion of the Revised Code of Washington that prohibits profiling of motorcycle riders – a law passed by this coalition a few years ago. How convenient of them. And how nice it was for this coalition to remind the WSTC of that little law. “OOOPS” said WSTC. We really didn’t mean to do that, after they got a letter from the Confederation of Clubs Attorney. They then rescinded the press release and actually went so far as to put up a retraction on their web page and notify all their law enforcement agency partners of the law, strongly condemned motorcycle profiling, and the “emphasis patrols” quickly became focused on “all motor vehicle drivers.”

Which now gets me to wondering how long legislators will continue to give credibility to the WSTC, which is proven once again that they are not a credible organization at all… I wonder…

Gary can be reached at roadsigns@comcast.net or www.grgardner.com, and you can read his blog at http://grgardner.livejournal.com

Comments

( 1 comment — Leave a comment )
bigmacbear
Sep. 7th, 2015 05:39 pm (UTC)
ORCA actually does work on Washington State Ferries, but only for passengers without a vehicle. You tap your ORCA on the turnstile at Colman Dock in lieu of a barcoded ticket.

Some of the vehicle toll booths have ORCA readers, but they don't work.
( 1 comment — Leave a comment )

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