Friday, October 17, 2008

Biker Friendly Cities

temecula motorcycle policeIf I learned anything in this past week, it's that there really isn't any such thing as a "biker friendly city".

Even when a city's Chief of Police claims to be a biker, who has aftermarket exhaust on his motorcycle, and even sings the praises of "loud pipes save lives", it doesn't mean it will trickle down to the cops on the streets.

A couple days ago I posted an article about the situation in Temecula, CA, specifically in the "Old Town" area, on my biker news blog...

http://www.bikernewsonline.com/2008/10/temecula-police-will-go-easy-on-bikers.htm

Apparently, merchants there claim to all be "biker friendly", but whatever the case may be, somehow things got out of hand over the past year, and cops were going on a feeding frenzy busting motorcyclists so frequently, that the city had begun building a reputation across the Southern California biker community that it didn't want them around.

Perhaps more correctly, there was little oversight, or maybe, little concern on behalf of the Chief of Police. I actually spoke with the guy over the phone, who assured me (after I told him that I publish a biker news blog with about 30,000 readers per month) that he gave new instructions to his officers to leave motorcyclists alone. Or that is, "use more discretion" before pulling them over.

What started out as an attempt simply to ticket those few bikers who were accelerating too hard from a stop, or revving their engines, or purposely "blipping" their throttles to set off car alarms, got out of control with officers "ganging up" to corral whole groups of bikers, pull them all over at once, and then find something to cite each. The cited bikers were actually told by these officers, that they were not welcome in Temecula.

The Chief of Police said to me that he looks at the tickets cited on a regular basis, and one time saw that there were 60 motorcycles cited over a period of three consecutive weekends, for violations of non-DOT helmet, and aftermarket exhaust. Those were two violations that he specifically didn't want riders being cited for. He actually admitted that his officers did not adhere to his orders.

But if that's the case, he could have done something right away to stop the carnage. Apparently, he didn't. It wasn't until two local businesses witnessed cops executing one of those "fishing net" style biker busts, that got them angry enough to put a stop to it. They contacted the Chief of Police, the City Council, and the City Manager and pressed their case with them. Eventualy the Chief of Police paid a visit to them both, and assured them that starting now things will change for the better.

So when I called the Chief of Police, just to verify what those two business owners told me, he in fact sounded very genuine and believable. But I still can't imagine why he didn't step in to correct the situation before hand, and instead wait for local businesses to complain. He told me, "I'm a motorcycle rider, I own a Harley. I have aftermarket exhaust too, and I believe that loud pipes save lives", he told me. "I don't want to scare away bikers from Temecula, I want to make them feel welcome. I just want to go after the ones showing themselves off as being obnoxious".

So being that I frequent those two businesses a lot, and wanted to help them succeed in putting a stop to the ticketing madness, I told the Chief of Police that I'd publish something on Biker News Online to help repair the city's damaged reputation. I'm counting on that Chief of Police to follow through on his word that he'll keep his officers under control.

The bottom line is that there really isn't any such thing as a "biker friendly city". Just because a town attracts a lot of motorcyclists, is not any kind of sign that the city goes out of its way to embrace them.

3 comments:

  1. We have similar issues here in Newark, DE aith a crackdown on loud exhaust systems. It sucks because we hold our HOG meetings downtown righ tbehind the police station. I get mixed reports from my members on the extent of police harrasment going on.

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  2. I find it worrysome that in what is supposed to be free country, when it all comes down to it, we are all at the mercy of individual police officers. I've been studying Law for several years and have even had several professors tell my classes that a semi-decent officer can find SOMETHING to cite ANYONE for, a "good cop" could find a reason to cite the Pope.
    No matter where you are or what you drive, to some extent you are at the mercy of local law enforcement.
    Thanks for illustrating this about Temecula.

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  3. I think the point is a few folks with loud pipes and little regard for others, such as coming out to shut off an alarm a few times in one night, just because someone feels a little frisky. Do unto others.

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About Steve

San Diego, CA-based motorcycle rider who likes long road trips, old rustic bars, craft beer, and tough women. Can often be found where there's free Wi-Fi, writing about the mysteries of life. (Read more...)