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overpoliced is right. Some one asked on esportbike.com about riding in India and elcitied a snide comment from some one about ox carts and lack of useful pavement. Reference was made to the guy who wanted to take his ZX-12R to India, and the question was something along the lines of, "what can you do with it there"?

I posted my comments there and I am copying here:

I am from India, and I find american roads a prison. A gulag, a guilded cage. It was I who wanted to take his zx-12r back over there, and I still hope to someday.

In India, no one holds your hand to keep you safe from yourself. You can drive/ride as fast as you want, pass in any manner you like, do WHATEVER the hell you want. Over there, I ALWAYS drive at the what I consider the limits of safety. Which essentially means that I drive full throttle ALL the time. Driving in India is incessant, acceleration, braking, turning cornering. its exciting, thrilling, dangerous, addictive. You never get bored, and you never get sleepy, and you are doing something every second. There is NO question of sitting motionless on your a$$ and watching mile markers roll by.

Let me give you an example. here I am in my car on a road with no lane markings, going 95mph. there is a bus ahead of me, going the same direction as me at 60mph, and an oncoming bus at 60mph. I pull out straight into the path of the oncoming bus, shift down and accelerate, barreling straight on at the bus. THe on coming bus driver doe not let off the gas. I overtake the bus on my side, and squeak back into my own side of the road just in time for the oncoming bus to blow past me. Except there is a truck going 30mph right in my path. So I have to get BACK in the opposing lane as soon as the bus is past so I can pass the truck without having to slow down. do you HAVE to drive like this? absolutely not. YOu can stay at 50mph and stay behind the bus, and just cruise along. But if you don't want to, you don't have to. Neither does anyone else. There is no one telling you what you can and can't do. Dangerous, yes. uncivilized, yes. heart explodingly thrilling? oh yeah!

Don't even get me started on the thrills of driving on Indian mountain roads. no such thing as "no passing" zones, yellow lines, speed limits. Nurburgring is boring in comparison.

Every Indian wishes India had roads like americans. And I'll be the first to admit that I want india to have better roads because the lack of this infrastructure is stifling economic progress. But purely for the fun of driving, India is an adventure of a lifetime. You get to drive at the very limits of safety all the time. Either that scares you or it thrills you. If it scares you, don't drive in India. Driving in India is not for pussies.
I talk about India to contrast with what you have here. American roads are sanitized to the extreme so that virtually no skill and expereince in required to use them. But that also means that using them does not promote the increase of skill or accumulation of useful expereince. I guess you might argue that America could have road laws and enforcement like Britain or germany, and there would be something in that....

But in general, the alternative to over policing roads is exceissive lawlessness. As they say, be careful what you wish for because you might get it.
 

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Gun ports maybe, but with all of the retarded gun laws in California the only gun you will ever see in the future will be pointed at you by criminals or cops....which sometimes are the same person. (yes, yes I know, there ARE good cops out there. But I'm referring to the thugs that get off on abusing the power we give them)
 

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A matter of perspective

Good comments but...How many folks are locked up (as a percentatge of the population) in China or Singapore. On the one hand I agree with you about we lock too many folks up but then I remember how Mayor Rudy G. of NYC cleaned up the streets of New York. Instead of letting the little crimes go unpunished he intiated total enforncement of the laws. It worked. His folks reduced all crime On the other hand I think we have way too many folks locked up for victimless crimes like drug use and prostitution, gambling etc. But the answer there maybe to legalize this stuff and tax it. Have cops concentrate on the big stuff like Women SUV drivers (tail-gaters) on my butt on the freeway :) One broad almost killed me this morning.
 

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13.4%? That's not right. I don't mean that you are incorrect; I mean that that there is something fundamentally f'd up in that fact. At the very least, I hope that you meant to say that 13.4% were in jail at some point - not that that would be much better. Anyway, I would hope that there is some correlation between those 13.4% and their economic status or something else that would indicate that they weren't thrown in jail because of their race. I find it unlikely that the color of your skin makes you more prone to commit crimes and get caught. Lower economic classes are unfortunately composed of a disproportionate number of blacks. If prisons were filled with 50% (exaggeration) of the male population of 25 to 29 year-olds that earn less than $10K a year - then the 13.4% may discredit the association between being black and being incarcerated. Hopefully that is the case. Otherwise, I'm glad I am not black. And I don't mean that in a racist way. I mean it as a sign of pity.



By the way Burns - you shouldn't downplay the inability to operate a vehicle while drunk. There are squids reading this site that could be influenced too easily by thoughts like that.

 

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Great column! (Is that what they call it on the internet? "Post" sounds too mundane for such a worthwhile polemic .)



The U.S. is crawling with police and most of them seem to be preoccupied with traffic violations and small time drug busts. And, as you point out, they are frequently surly or arrogant even when dealing with minor issues.



Several years ago I read an article in a British bike magazine about a tour a few of their writers took across the U.S. One of the writers observed that he hadn't seen so many cops since he took a trip through Brezhnev Russia.



Police are obviously necessary but we need to convince politicians to reallocate resources rather than hire a batch more to address every issue that comes along.



Excellent work John, keep going!!!

 

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I agree Drinking and Driving is just bad

With me there is no gray area here. I agree Drinking and Driving is bad no gray areas on this one. Especially since 50% or more motorcycle accidents involve alcohol.
 

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Watching the news at work on the big monitors they have on I saw 2 high speed chases in the past 2 days. Both instances involved the perpatrator in high speed careening through LA with half a dozen CHP officers in persuit with there cruisers. I couldn't even count the number of pedestrians and inocent by standerds that were put in harms way. So my question is this; If there is a helecopter in the air and has visual contact of the suspect, why put all those lives at risk trying to chase the person down on the ground? I don't know about you but I am less likely to run if there isn't some big thug chasing me with a bat or batton in this case. I know that other states have a no pursuit law what gives in one of the most populated cities in the country.



Burnsie What do you think?



 

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Re: A matter of perspective

KPaulCook,

During the same period of time (mid 90's) crime decreased not only in NYC but nearly everywhere in this country too, even in left-wing, soft on crime havens that did not have three-strikes laws and zero-tolerance for jaywalkers. Guliani just happened to be in the right place at the right time and the statistics bear this out. The strength of the economy has a much greater correlation with crime rate than enforcement. This is a fact of life that law enforcement types hate and wish weren't true, but it is nonetheless.

Regards

Martin
 

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The most common thing police tell me whenever stopped for traffic violations or jaywalking or anything is "I don't want you to get hurt" or "Next time I'll be scraping you up off the road." Whatever they say though it all adds up to "It's for your own good," and whenever someone forces you to change your behavior for that reason they take away your freedom to make decisions for your own life.

When I'm out there riding my bike at a speedy clip (within my abilities of course) or, in the past, when I was smoking and drinking with friends, I knew exactly what I was doing and how it could harm me. But THIS IS MY LIFE! It should not be the responsiblity of police to determine how I live my life as long as I am not hurting anyone.

For everyone's info, my last three tickets have been either in the middle of nowhere or on deserted stretches of highway and only while going maybe 10 MPH over the limit.
 

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Re: I agree Drinking and Driving is just bad

I always love it when people have "no gray area." Life is nothing but gray, unfortunately. If half the crashes are "alcohol-related," how do you explain the other half? Bad driver training? Maybe if we focussed as much attention on bad driving as we do on drunk driving, we'd cut the accident rate by 75% then? Lies, damn lies, statistics.
 

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the one moderating point to make against that point of view is this:



You should be entitled to do things that may put you in severe danger of bodily harm, provided that you know the risks. However, it becomes a matter of if you're going to hurt someone else at the same time. THAT's where the laws get written..unfortunately, many laws get written without thought for what laws already exist and without thought for future consequences to the at-large population.
 

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Re: A matter of perspective

Crime decreased everywhere, but more in NYC than other places. Last year Chicago had more murders than NYC -- with about a quarter of the population. Something's going on there.
 

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Right on, JB!

Congrats on having the balls to say that there is a grey area as far as drunken driving is concerned. There is a grey area.

I grew up in the country, with little to do on weekends, especially when everyone's parents were home. One of the most enjoyable acitivies we did was to load up a vehicle with beer, good friends, and good tunes, and hit the gravel backroads, singing and drinking the beautiful summer nights away. We made an efffort to have the least drunk person drive, but this was not always the case. We did, however, stick to a 25 mph speed limit, mainly because we were in no hurry to go anywhere. Our main goal was to get lost without running out of beer or gas, all the while avoiding cities. This may shock those of you who grew up in the city, but we'd go 45 minutes without meeting another vehicle. I'm sure I'll get flamed for this, but I really don't think this activity was that dangerous. Never went in the ditch, never got caught (by the cops, anyway). The activity was illegal for several reasons: underage consumption & possession, Drunken driving, and open bottle. I've talked to other people who grew up in the sticks, and have been told about similar activities.

Now I live in the burbs, and never drink and drive, not because I don't think I could get home, but because if I got caught, I'd lose my job.

Meanwhile, it's still legal to yammer away on your cell phone while tailgating, and officers look the other way when people run red lights.
 

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Well burns I'd have to say that the problem with many folks in the security business (yes that includes police) is that they don't have a lot of reasoning behind the laws they enforce. I think it's a young cop vs old cop issue. Young cops don't seem to have the ability to view the 'big picture' whereas old cops tend to be a bit more reasonable. Seems to be these days that having to use a little bit of reason is out of the question, hence probably the increase in people getting in trouble although this goes both ways. Speeding down a road in a community at night is not only dangerous but annoying. Doing the same on a deserted highway is a whole other matter yet they have the same penalty. Doesn't make much sense but part of the problem is our local government, the pay that these guys get doesn't encourage the best folks to apply for the job. Last thing is that the way they are measured needs to change. If you were rated on how many tickets you gave out per month then the motivation is there to get as many tickets given as possible.
 

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Re: A matter of perspective

Haird,

Your statement is, strictly speaking correct, - but only when minor crimes like jaywalking were factored into the stats (which NYC was quick to do). Serious crime actually decreased more in other places during the same period of though not by a statistically relavent amount. The point is that the hardball policies of the Guliani administration (largely practiced against easy targets) had little demonstrable effect on the crime rate in NYC. So something was going on there and it was that politicians were lying to the public. Imagine that.

DARE is another such program. It has been shown in multiple studies that DARE has no measurable effect on either preventing first time drug use in preteens or recidivism, yet it is widely hailed among law enforcement as a huge success. What you have to ask yourself is why?

The real soultions to crime, that is those that have a chance at actually succeeding, require time, money, and a societal commitment to change. Most of us don't want any of that. We'd much rather hear tough on crime talk from the law enforcement community (much of which is not only draconian, unsubstantiated, and ignores reality but is just plain stupid), and election year pandering from politicians rather that work to improve the conditions that breed crime.

Regards

Martin
 

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