I like to watch Formula-One races. I have good memories of riding a Yamaha 175 fast on the abandoned mining roads outside Fairbanks in the late 1960s. I enjoy watching "Pinks" on TV, where losers of quarter-mile drag races lose their cars. I once drooled on a Shelby Cobra. In 1958, a P-51 Mustang did a high-speed pass right over me, maybe 50 feet up, and I could've died happy right then, because I thought nothing would ever be as good as that.
I told you that so you'd know, I like things that go fast and make noise. What I don't like is when people ride these machines where they're a dangerous, rude and illegal intrusion.
You see it all the time, people riding snowmobiles, four-wheelers and off-road motorcycles on subdivision roads. I don't know if it's happening statewide, but I know it's happening on the peninsula.
The main problem with riding all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) on the road is that it's dangerous. How would you feel if your child was riding on the road in your neighborhood and ran his or her snowmobile head-on into a car? How would you feel if you were the driver of the car? Earlier this month in Jesuit Bend, La., a 13-year-old boy was hit by a pickup while crossing a highway on a four-wheeler. He was declared dead at the scene. ¿¿
Another growing problem with riders of four-wheelers and off-road motorcycles is the clouds of dust they create when ridden in the Sterling Highway right-of-way. If the mental midgets who do this would just once look behind them, a few of them might "get it" and slow down. In dry conditions, the dust is sometimes so bad, drivers on the highway have to slow down and turn on headlights. The air pollution is so bad, state or federal regulators should do something about it.
The noise made by some ATVs adds insult to injury. I listen to a lot of rock and roll, and I crank it up until the windows rattle. One of the ATVs that roars past my house drowns out my sub-woofer, which is going some.¿¿
Oh, I know the argument that being able to ride a four-wheeler on roads is a way of life. But that life is in Bush villages, where ATVs are workhorses and usually the only vehicles.
It would be inconvenient for some ATV owners to have to trailer their snowmobiles and four-wheelers every time they want to go for a ride, but it's coming to that. Unless riders slow down, stop making dust, and stop making so much noise, the law is going to start being enforced.
As things stand right now, the riders have the freedom to do what they will. However, with freedom comes responsibility. Unless the riders¿¿start acting more responsibly, their freedom to use our roads won't last.
Les Palmer lives in Sterling.
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