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Posts Tagged ‘2011’

Northwest Riding Season's

As I sit down and write this post, it is 45 degrees with rain and wind.  I spent the last week at NAMM in Anaheim, CA where it was sunny.  Today is one of those gray winter days that make me wonder what I’m doing here.

Then I remember driving in L.A. traffic during rush hour and thinking this is nuts. Or rolling through Furnace Creek on Hwy 190 last April watching it approach 90 degrees and thinking that’s nuts.  Or even a couple summers ago rolling across Alberta where it was super flat and you’d ride 20+ miles between curves in the road.  That’s when I remember why I’m here…

The northwest has some of the best riding roads in the country and we actually have seasons.

And speaking of seasons, it’s earning’s ‘season’ and Harley-Davidson announced a profit versus a year ago loss.  Harley’s sales of motorcycle and related products grew 13% in 2011 and the recent quarter marked its third-straight increase in U.S. sales.  The result is remarkable given that most financial analysts see a continuing “trough” in the U.S. economy, which is beset by a weak recovery and a jobless rate that is likely to remain in the 8% range for 2012.

Harley’s motorcycle and related product revenue rose 12% to $1.03B.  Retail sales of new motorcycles grew 11% worldwide and included a 12% increase in the U.S.  International sales rose 9.7% and included a 5.8% increase in Europe, even though consumer confidence has been shaken by the current economic crisis.  The motor company shipped 50,730 motorcycles to dealers and distributors during the quarter, compared with 44,481 in the same quarter last year. For the full year, shipments rose 11% to 233,117 bikes.  Even Harley’s financial services division got a boost from improved credit conditions. New motorcycle loans jumped 14% to $349.5 million and represented about half of the company’s retail sales.

Keith Wandell (H-D CEO and President) credited the Q4 sales jump to improved consumer confidence in the U.S., along with key growth investments overseas.  However, in Europe, the Euro-zone is facing its own, even larger, economic crisis and Mr. Wandell reminded the  analysts with, “We will continue to keep a close watch on the marketplace and remain cautious in our expectations of retail given the degree of continued economic uncertainty including regions like the Euro zone.”

For all of 2011, Harley reported net income of $599.1 million, or $2.33 per share, up from $146.5 million, or $1.11 per share, in 2010.  Motorcycle and related product revenue increased to $4.66B from $4.18B.

Photo taken by author.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog
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Steve Dorn Burn-Out at N/W Nitro Nationals

I attended the AHDRA (All Harley Drag Racing Association) drag race about a week ago in Woodburn, Oregon.

Before we go any further, allow me to interject a disclaimer:  I’m not a big racing fan.  In fact, I attended NASCAR (Daytona 500) a few years ago – the so-called ‘superbowl’ of racing — on a work gig and for me watching guys make left-handed turns hour after hour ad nauseam was boring.  Fortunately watching the fans worship drivers with brightly colored advertising attire while discussing race strategy in that southern accent made the event.  Watching the tire changes in the pit were entertaining for awhile, but they can’t hold a person’s interest forever.

The Steve Dorn and Latus Nitro H-D

At any rate I walked through the AHDRA pits in Woodburn and got my fill of all the Nitro Methane action I could possibly handle. The rev/roar of engines created a race atmosphere and there was indeed some great racing competition on the track from the various fields.  As a “newbie” to the AHDRA, I had no clue who was on the 2011 qualifying and elimination sheets or did I understand the difference between Top Fuel, Pro Fuel and the Screaming Eagle backed classes other than the obvious noise level in the motor differences.  My observation was that after the too few Nitro Methane class motorcycles finished their runs everything else seemed in slow motion.  Yeah, the non-nitro motorcycles were fast, but there is a huge perceptual difference from 150MPH vs. 220MPH.

I love the smell of nitro in the morning...

When standing around the staging area/pits I did overhear some rumblings about how the entire AHDRA series is awaiting its demise.  Being a nu-bee at this motorcycle drag race gig I wouldn’t know about attendance figures.  I typically sit behind a desk and tap on a keyboard.  Clearly the economy has impacted most everyone so why wouldn’t race organizations be struggling (NHRA, NASCAR, ADRL, AHDRA) or see a drop in attendance and racers too?

I did leave feeling of bit hungry due to the fact there was no action in the new Draggin Bagger class.  A class that the H-D Motor Company backed and promoted heavily in December of last year for the 2011 racing season.  There was an amateur contestant who took his fully loaded cruiser, tour pak with dual antenna’s out there to run the strip.  I’ll give the dude a shout out for doing a burn out on that thousand pound behemoth.

On departure there seemed to be a number of people who had a secret fantasy of being an AHDRA driver.  The Steve Dorn wannabe’s came out as I was driving the bike 75MPH in a 65MPH zone, trying to shake the guys who were riding in my draft.  It seemed like the normal speed limit no longer existed and riders were looking for a side-bank to pass on the shoulder.  This went on for about 15 miles then the Wilsonville I-5 construction had brake lights flashing as an old lady (yes, older than me) shot a dirty look in the rearview mirror while she jockeyed for a pole position in a lane that was moving ever so faster.

Vroom, go granny, go.

The Northwest Nitro National race results are HERE.

Photos taken by author.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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The smell of fuel, the camaraderie of fellow riders and the attention garnered from the public in a long-distance endurance motorcycle competition are the backbone of the sport.

Last year it became more than apparent that the public and participants of the Hoka Hey Challenge were left with some incorrect perceptions and information about the competition.

I’ve previously blogged about H-D throwing their corporate weight behind the long-distance event and wasn’t sure why given the history and the risk to the brand.  Will Barclay (the 2010 winner) even posted a comment. However, the new team behind the 2011 event are working hard to correct the communications and with big name sponsors (now includes the Harley Owners Group (H.O.G.)) it looks to be on a more positive track.

H.O.G. recently jumped in and announced their support of the event.  To recognize the H.O.G. members partaking in the Hoka Hey event – as among the most adventurous in the world – the highest finishing eligible H.O.G. member who completes the event (as determined by the organizers) will be awarded a 2012 Harley-Davidson Custom Vehicle Operations (CVO) motorcycle of his or her choice. In addition, the 2nd through 5th highest finishing eligible H.O.G. members will each be awarded a portion of a total of $19,000 in additional cash prizes.

Very cool!

The Hoka Hey Motorcycle Challenge will begin August 5, 2011. The event, the second annual in a series, begins in Phoenix, Arizona, and travels through all forty-eight contiguous U.S. states and several Canadian provinces to Nova Scotia.  The route will travel more than 10,000 miles, and is open only to riders of Harley-Davidson motorcycles.

Photos courtesy of Hoka Hey Challenge.

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Cold Creek Inn - Mt. Shasta (Background)

Day 1: (PDX – Mt. Shasta City)
The posse departure date for Laughlin was April 25th. Unfortunately, that morning rain came down in sheets and the wind blew like a hurricane. It is spring in the northwest after all and with the instability…showers produced a mix of rain and small hail with an occasional snow flurry back to rain.  So, rather than enjoy t-shirt riding, we enjoyed getting to know our rain gear and re-learning how to use heated gloves!  Scattered showers continued through the valley off and on, but it got warmer (maybe we were just getting use to it?) as we made our way south.

We rode straight down I-5 and it was an uneventful trip until we hit the Siskiyou pass where snow flurries started.  Fortunately nothing was sticking to the road and we continued on to Mt. Shasta City where we overnighted at the Cold Creek Inn.

Hwy 207 from South Lake Tahoe

We grabbed some dinner at Strings Italian Café and spent the evening re-packing rain gear and warming up.

Day 2: (Mt. Shasta City – Minden, NV)
Temperatures continued to be cold (sub-freezing) when we woke, but the sun was shining which helped thaw out the heavy frost on the bikes.

We plugged in and headed south down I-5 to Red Bluff.  In the first hour we crossed over Lake Shasta.  Bright blue sky with deep blue water made for some awesome photos unfortunately I never stopped to take any pictures.   I’ll add that to my bucket list.  The lake for all practical purposes look full.  And there is still a lot of construction on the I-5 roadway in and around the bridge.  After arriving in Red Bluff we took Hwy 99 South to Los Molinos and Chico.  We proceed south on Hwy 99/162 past the Oroville Wildlife Area to Yuba City then toward Lake of the Woods State Wildlife to Sacramento.  We did a bit of looping in the area and finally made our way east to Folsom on Hwy 50 or the El Dorado Fwy.

Minden, NV - Looking at South Lake Tahoe

We rolled thru Pollock Pines then the Eldorado National Forest via Hwy 50 then Hwy 89/50 thru South Lake Tahoe.  The temperatures remained cool through the 4500-5000 foot level of the national forest and while the road was dry there remained large amounts of snow in the ditches.  We fueled up in South Lake Tahoe and proceeded onto Hwy 207 which runs up and over the mountain after plenty of switchbacks to Minden, NV where we overnighted at the Holiday Inn Express.

Minden is located near the center of Carson Valley and about 15 miles south of Carson City.  We grab dinner at the Carson Valley Inn (Katie’s Country Kitchen) after learning that the CV Steak house closed shop on Tuesdays.

After dinner we were still chilled to the bone with a couple days of electric gloves so we hit the hot tub in the hotel and that seemed to permanently correct the “chilled” situation for the rest of the trip.

Mono Lake

Day 3: (Minden – Las Vegas)
The next morning continued on a bit of a warming trend as we picked up Hwy 395 and headed south.  We meandered along the valley floor and crossed back over the state line into CA., near Topaz Lake.  It was early but fishing boats dotted the lake I suppose to take a shot at capturing another trophy trout.

Bridgeport was the first fuel stop of the morning and where we paid about $25 to fill a 5-gallon motorcycle tank!   Not well know, but Bridgeport hosts the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare Training Center (MCMWTC).  It’s one of the most remote and isolated military posts and conducts training exercises for military personnel headed to Iraq and Afghanistan.  The base is located about 21 miles from the city center on Hwy 108 at Pickle Meadow, but we chatted up some guys in a non-descript white standard issue military van.

Sierra Mountain Range - Hwy 395

As we rode on it wasn’t long before we caught our first glimpse of Mono Lake.  “Mono” means “beautiful” in Piute and besides being an oasis in the great basin it is an awesome sight.  As we continued around Mono Lake we quickly climbed to another 8100-foot ridge where aspen forest dotted the landscape and then we started back down the to the valley floor.  We continued south and near Crestview is a turnoff on Hwy 203.  For many in southern CA., this is the road to Mammoth Lakes and a ski resort.

We ate lunch at a local Denny’s in Bishop, the unofficial capital of Owens Valley and the biggest town on Hwy 395 south of Reno.  The town sits at about 4000 feet, but just a few minutes prior to arriving we were nearly at 9000 feet.  On the way into Bishop I remember looking off east and seeing a large radar array.  I didn’t recall seeing any information and always on the lookout for something new I researched it on my return.  It’s the CARMA Deep Space Satellite Dish Array Complex and turns out to be one of the largest university operated radio observatories in the world known as the Owens Valley Radio Observatory.  Who knew?!

Death Valley

We continued on and arrived in Lone Pine which is between the highway and the Sierra range and was popular for filming western movies.  In fact we passed the Beverly and Jim Rogers Museum of Lone Pine Film history and enjoyed a spectacular view of Mt. Whitney (14,494 ft) which is the highest peak in the contiguous 48 states.  We took Hwy 190 east which runs though Death Valley National Park.

We entered Death Valley from the west entrance on Hwy 190 and traveled east.  The 3.3 million acres of spectacular scenery with sculpted hills and shifting sand dunes.  We went from high level vistas to the below sea level and enjoyed the hottest place in N.A.  About 20 miles into the park we stopped at Father Crowley Point and ran into a group of riders from Germany.  It seems to me that we end up chatting with folks from Germany about every year in the desert because they ride rented H-D’s with Florida plates.  Last year we met a group riding in the Grand Canyon with snow.  We made another stop at Stovepipe Wells village and another photo opportunity of Mesquite Flats Sand Dunes then headed east on Daylight Pass Road to Beatty, NV., as we needed to make some miles after meandering around in the park.

Below Sea Level

At Beatty we headed south on Hwy 95.  About an hour outside Las Vegas near Indian Springs I saw a big shadow roll over me from the sky and at first I was thinking it was a bird.  I looked back over my left shoulder and it turned out to be a Predator drone making circles in a landing pattern at Creech AFB.  The base use to be called Indian Springs Air Force Auxiliary Field, but was changed a few years ago and it’s now home to the Predator unmanned aerial vehicle and the 432d Wing “Hunters.”

We arrived in Las Vegas and bedded down in the “Hangover Suite” at the MGM.  I kid you not the hotel gave us a mid-week deal on the suite that cost the same as a normal room. We were living life large… at least for one night.

Laughlin Aquarius Hotel/Casino

Day 4: Laughlin
We hit it a bit hard the night before… some a lot more than others… and as a result we made a leisurely mid-day departure out of Vegas and headed toward Laughlin on Hwy 95.  At the Boulder City/Laughlin junction we did an inventory of fuel thinking we could make Searchlight without any issues.  We hadn’t planned on the fierce headwind and as a result my bike ran out of fuel about 7 miles to soon.  We leveraged a tube from one of the tool kits and used a water bottle to transfer some gas from one of the newer bikes which have 6+ gallon fuel tanks.  According to H-D the “check-engine” light which was triggered by the lack of firing due to fuel issue will re-set after about 50 starts and work normal.  I may need to go in and just have them reset it… assuming the cost is minimal to free?

After approximately 1200 miles we finally arrived at the Laughlin River Run and Aquarius Hotel/Casino in time to park our bikes, grab a refreshment and take in a few vendor booths.

The BBQ Crew

Our original plan was to crash at a buddies place in Needles on sleeping bags, but on a whim we decided to check room availability at the Aquarius.  They had rooms, be it 5X the standard budget rate on any other week, but our age group isn’t fond of sleeping bags and hard floors so we opted for plusher surroundings and paid the elevated rates.  Yeah, we’re lame, but showers are nice every couple days!

Summary
Over the next couple days we meandered around the local area, hit the pool once and chatted up the new motorcycle products with vendors and attended a couple of BBQ’s put on by one of our buddies friends from L.A.  First came Big Ed’s BBQ in Bull Head City with authentic Mexican dishes, Fajitas, Spanish rice and other seasoned food that melted in your mouth.  Then there was Big Dave’s in Needles on the Colorado River…   there were dry rubs, spicy pastes and marinated flavor that permeated the meats and provided a wonderful taste.  The shrimp was a killer with the wide range of heat from differing chilies.  Major shout out to the L.A. posse for the awesome hospitality!!

The "Van Down By The River"

Due to work constraints I had to have my bike shipped back to Oregon and caught a flight home late Sunday (May 1), but other members of the posse did a two day return.  Back-to-back nearly 600 mile days means they get the tired butt award!

I would be remiss if I didn’t make a comment about attendance or the Mongol MC.  The Aquarius seemed to be ‘home base’ for many of the members and the valet area had a number of tables with a mini-bar set up to refresh patrons.  The Aquarius had implemented a “no colors” policy that prohibited members of any biker club from displaying their membership patches while in the casino. And some “guests” apparently weren’t aware of the policy and wore colors but, they agreed to comply once they were informed by casino staff.  Indeed there was a large and very visible Metro Police contingent at the hotel as well.

Full On Shrimp...

I’m pleased to report that while motorcycle clubs of all dispositions turned out for the River Run, none caused any major problems for either the casinos or the police this year.  Sure the Aquarius management made the call to restrict casino access to registered guests only from about 6 pm- to-midnight Saturday, but rumors were overblown or simply untrue that motorcycle clubs were the issue.  The hotel made the decision earlier in the afternoon after observing that guests were having difficulty accessing parking lots, games and restaurants due to the sheer volume of visitors and put up the restriction.  As a guest I can tell you it help moved people in and out of the property and performed much better than previous years I’ve stayed at Harrah’s where arm badges and motorcycle passes wasted a lot of time getting off property.

Looking Back At A Great Road Trip

It’s true that attendance was observably down.  Yet, it felt plenty busy vs. jammed up or crowded.  I’m not sure if it was the weather (cooler/windy than normal) or economic as fuel prices approached $5/gallon at many locations.   In my viewpoint the cooler weather helped keep people in the vendor booths — buying — as you weren’t looking for shade or AC to avoid the heat.  If you attended and have some ideas on why attendance was down let me know.

The official stats from this report indicate that arrests were down (31 arrests vs. 34 in 2010).  Six were arrested and charged with felonies including drug possession and grand larceny.  Police issued 199 traffic citations vs. 229 in 2010.

All in all it was a really successful rally/weekend.

Photos taken by author.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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The grueling wait is over!

Harley-Davidson today announced the launch of its latest customer focused strategy in the battle of the motorcycle wars – the new “left-handed” Harley-Davidson® Blackline™ L-Edition.

A full page advertisement in LA Times announced the introduction of the Harley-Davidson® Blackline™ L-Edition, a new model in their 2011 lineup: a left-handed motorcycle specially designed for the more than 35 million left-handed Americans.  According to the advertisement, the new Blackline L-Edition was made of the same high-quality components as the original ‘right-handed’ version (motor, frame, seat, handle-bars, tires, etc.), but all the vehicle operations were rotated 360 degrees for the benefit of the left-handed customers, thereby redistributing the weight of the rider so that the bulk of the controls will skew to the left.

Mark-Hans Richer, CMO at Harley-Davidson, was quoted as saying that the new Blackline L-Edition was “lean as wire, hard as iron and would satisfy the rebellious nature of our left-handed customers.” The advertisement stated that the left-handed Blackline L-Edition would initially only be available in the U.S., but that the company was “considering plans to roll it out to other countries with large left-handed populations.” Clearly the left-handed Blackline L-Edition throws new fuel on a fire that burn’s across many left-handed generations and quenches their desire to ride.

A spokesperson from the Left-Handed Motorcycle Club (LHMC) stated:

“We are enthusiastically behind Harley-Davidson’s recognition of the difficulties riding a motorcycle that has a natural right-hand bias to it.  We urge all left-handed motorcyclists to visit their nearest Harley-Davidson dealer and experience the difference for themselves.”

The skill and care that went into the customization is clear, and the list of parts that were manufactured with a skew to the left speaks for itself: a 1 degree milled-left chrome rocker cover kit and the rear fender was bobbed from the left and placed high-and-tight over a slim, 144mm tire that emphasizes asymmetric left-hand side tread and an authentic hardtail profile. The compact headlight and speedometer were slightly skewed-left and low into the wide, FX front end, and there’s just enough shine to make the black parts look blacker.   Once aboard the Blackline L-Edition, the rider hugs the sculpted left-side frame on the lowest two-up seat ever offered by Harley-Davidson, and reaches high for new Split Drag™ left-handlebars that bolt right to the top of the left-leaning triple-clamp.

In addition, Harley-Davidson introduced a new “Lean Left” clothing line to support the new Blackline L-Edition and the company has teamed up with left-handed Supermodel Sophie Dahl in an innovative left-handed marketing campaign to introduce the latest addition to Harley-Davidson’s high-performance line of ‘Dark Custom’ motorcycles.  Partnering with Supermodel Sophie Dahl is a perfect match as the skewed left Blackline L-Edition sculpted frame and commanding physique complement the left-handed model, who has a recently learned the art of left-handed burnouts.

Please Note: According to a report by CareerBuilder.com, 33% of respondents said they’d been the victim of an April Fool’s Day prank in the office… if you believe this blog post then you’ve just been punked!  Nothing in this post is true and no left-handed people were harmed in the writing of this post.

Photo courtesy of Blue State Creations.

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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Stop "Nanny" Bills

We’ve been told a number of times that Oregon legislators know what’s best for us.  They seem to have a motto of just ‘trust us,’ now go out there and have some crazy fun.  But govern that fun because there are a lot of well intentioned legislative bills that treat citizens like children incapable of making a good decision — called “nanny” bills — which in my view try to mandate common sense and are simply telling people how to live their life.

For 2011, they don’t want you to smoke.  Anything anywhere.  Don’t even think about driving with a pet in your lap or riding a bike with headphones.  And when your windshield wipers are on (happens a lot in the northwest) they want it mandatory to use your headlights too.  Yeah, legislators want to lower the boom on all these so-called questionable habits and are as busy as ever protecting us from ourselves.  In fact, 2,837 measures have been introduced since January.  Some read like duplicates and some contradict other bills.  Yep, it’s “March Madness” from Salem!

One of the more prolific sponsors is Rep. Mitch Greenlick (D) who after reading a bike safety study by OHSU decided to authored a bill that would make it illegal to carry a child under the age of 6 years old in a bike trailer (HB 2228).  I’m curious if he collaborated with Eugene-based Burley Design, who have employees engaged in the making of trailers for more than 30 years and if they see this as a job killer?   Not even slightly distracted about jobs, Mr. Greenlick also wants to require a prescription to smoke cigars or cigarettes and wants to add a special tax on soda to discourage its consumption (HB 3223).

The Legislative Counsel’s office says it costs $980, on average to draft and circulate a bill.  That suggests there is a $2.7M cost for the drafting and routing of the 2,837 measures for 2011!  While we can debate the actual costs and if a House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) is less cost, what isn’t debatable is the loss of productivity of the people put there to serve us and the wasting of the states time and money on non-sense bills versus working to grow the economy and create jobs.  Some examples of those all-important issues (and there are many, believe me) that legislators think face our state:

  1. HCR 14 – adopts Code of West as model of conduct in State of Oregon.
  2. SCR 3 – designates Border collie as official state dog.
  3. HB 2010 – requires public schools to offer students instruction in Mandarin Chinese if school offers student instruction in two or more second languages.
  4. SB 160 – creates offense of driver operation with obstructing animal (makes it illegal to drive with a pet on your lap).
  5. SB 805 creates offense of unlawfully confining egg-laying hen.

So, by now you’re asking how does this relate to motorcycles and/or transportation measures?  I didn’t read all 2,837 measures, but I quickly scanned them and below are the measures motorcyclists might be interested in keeping an eye on:

SB 948 Declares that data used to diagnose, maintain or repair motor vehicles that is created, collected or contained in motor vehicle is exclusively owned by motor vehicle owner.
SB 945 Prohibits manufacturers from selling or offering for sale, and other specified persons from knowingly selling or offering for sale, brake friction material or motor vehicles or trailers with brake friction material containing specific amounts of certain fibers or elements that are hazardous when released into state waterways.
HB 3579 Prohibits advertising that seller will value property being offered as payment toward purchase or lease of motor vehicle at certain amounts.
SJR 36 Proposes amendment to Oregon Constitution to allow revenue from taxes on motor vehicle fuel and ownership, operation or use of motor vehicles to be used by state police for policing highways.
SB 873 Requires persons 75 years of age or older to renew driver licenses every two years and to take driving test prior to renewal.
SB 845 Requires Department of Transportation to issue driver license or driver permit to applicant who has complied with all requirements for license or permit but does not provide proof of legal presence in United States.
SB 846 Directs Department of Transportation to adopt standards for bicycle trailers designed for human passengers.
HB 3504 Authorizes civil forfeiture of motor vehicle if person is convicted of offense relating to driving while suspended or revoked.
HB 3377 Authorizes photo radar in City of Salem.
HB 3513 Creates Ignition Interlock Device Program Fund and continuously appropriates moneys in fund to Department of Transportation to pay for installation and maintenance of ignition interlock devices for use by persons who are indigent.
HB 3483 Requires use of headlights when windshield wipers are on.
SB 767 Creates offense of unlawfully idling motor vehicle engine.
HB 3259 Directs Department of Transportation to provide photograph on driver license, driver permit or identification card to licensed private investigator.
HB 3250 Directs Department of Transportation to issue Keep Kids Safe registration plates.
SB 647 Increases penalty for driving while suspended or revoked.
HB 3149 Establishes standards for personal vehicle sharing programs.
HB 3141 Requires only persons under 21 years of age to wear motorcycle helmet while riding on or operating motorcycle. I blogged on this previously HERE.
HB 3072 Requires use of headlights at all times.
HB 3039 Directs Department of Transportation to erect and maintain roadside memorial sign under certain circumstances for police officer killed in line of duty.
HB 2738 Directs Department of Transportation to consult with Oregon State University Marine Mammal Institute when designing Gray Whale registration plate.
HB 2768 Adds driving while fatigued to offense of reckless driving.
HB 2749 Creates offense of driving while drowsy.
HB 2545 Establishes tax on motor vehicle rentals.
HB 2333 Prohibits use of studded tires.
HB 2507 Permits person to use mobile communication device while operating motor vehicle in frontier counties.
HB 2042 Permits person to provide Department of Transportation with odometer disclosure form for vehicle 10 years old or older.
SB 160 Creates offense of driver operation with obstructing animal.
SB 180 Prohibits Department of Transportation from administering examination for driver license in language other than English.

And sticking with that ‘cowboy’ code theme and applying it to the 2011 legislature… I’m thinking “big mouth, no cows” might be more appropriate.

Photo courtesy of Flickr

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Road Traffic Accidents

We live in a world of overwhelming statistics.

We experience the most poignant human conditions in the form of numbers and abstractions and being the most connected culture in human history, our experience of reality and truth gets washed over by the onslaught of rhetoric and opinions that isolate us from critical issues that often affect us.

Motorcycle fatalities is a subject that our society has become particularly good at communicating solely in statistical terms.

Numbers put us all at ease, isolate the acute human pain associated with an accident and inevitably numbs us to the reality that we or someone dear to us may be suddenly afflicted by a life-changing event.

During the last week of January the northwest experienced dry and spring-like weather conditions.  As a result many additional motorcyclists exited their garages to take their favorite ride on a spin.  The area roads are in pretty good shape being mid-winter with the occasional gravel rock from the ice storm earlier in the year bouncing off the windshield.   Yet, on January 25th at approximately 3:25pm Mr. Ronald V. McNutt became the first fatal motorcycle crash in Oregon.

According to OSP reports:

Mr. McNutt (age 66) entered the northbound lanes of I-5 near milepost 250 when he appeared to lose control in the area of the middle and right lanes.  A school bus operator saw the motorcyclist losing control and tried steering to the left lane but was unable to avoid the motorcycle as it fell toward the school bus.  The school bus was loaded with about 50 high school students and struck the motorcycle operator who was pronounced deceased at the scene.

OSP continues to investigate the accident and if they provide the media an update I’ll update this post.

I’ve been thinking about this accident off and on for the last couple of weeks.  I debated the merits of blogging about it.  Then I thought about the frequency at which certain motorcycle accidents are growing in our society and if it warrants the question of whether it’s good enough that we just know that they happen or whether we should become better acquainted with them and why.  By knowing more, we’re truly able to understand the extent of suffering (not in a creepy way, but learning) and extend to them a hand of help, either as money that helps the family, or a charity or simply as an act of acknowledgement and well wishes to the survivors.

I confess that I have absolutely no connection or personal knowledge of Mr. McNutt, yet found this accident disturbing not only by the statistic (first fatality), but in antidotal information about the frequency of accidents on the rise for this age group.  We can debate causes endlessly, but what I hoped to communicate was the gravity of these accident’s which forces us to come face-to-face with the human dimension and to help raise awareness on the importance of driving safe out there.

UPDATE: February 10, 2011 — As if we need another example: Dale Stark (64) critically injured in an accident yesterday.  More info HERE.

Photo courtesy of World Health Org. Graphic image full size HERE.

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