Let’s get this straight: our government representatives don’t get a kick from taking away your personal rights. They aren’t evil people who want to keep you from having any fun. They don’t dislike you and they don’t have any disdain for your life choices. On the contrary, they want you to have a good, healthy and productive life.
The state Legislature isn’t out to get you
Let’s get this straight: our government representatives don’t get a kick from taking away your personal rights. They aren’t evil people who want to keep you from having any fun. They don’t dislike you and they don’t have any disdain for your life choices. On the contrary, they want you to have a good, healthy and productive life. If you’re happy and productive you can pay more taxes and you can, potentially, continue to vote these representatives into office. Smiting you isn’t in their playbook.
But when Oregon began discussing stricter ATV regulations, enthusiast groups began to protest. But let’s think about it here, folks: they aren’t trying to limit your fun, but rather keep you safe and save taxpayers money at the same time. Talk of ATV regulations stemmed from the Oregon Trauma Registry’s findings of a “78 percent increase in injuries” according to The Lebanon Express from 2001-2003. At OHSU they reported a “sevenfold increase in the number of spine operations.” And they found that over 20 percent of injuries were in children under the age of 15.
Remember last summer when you bought that sweet new ATV? The money you had considered using to buy health insurance instead went toward the monthly payment of your ATV. Remember a few weeks later when your son rolled over that sweet new ATV of yours on a back trail and he was paralyzed for life? Remember, also, that the taxpayers had to pay for his hospital bills because you had no insurance and no other way to pay? Yes, that’s the reason they’re trying to limit your use of your ATV.
It’s the same story over and over. It’s about our “society of life” and also about money. It’s not about the government playing Gestapo. They just want to limit the amount of taxpayer money spent if it is at all avoidable, and secondarily, they want to keep you alive.
Some people were furious over the idea of mandatory seatbelts in automobiles and to add insult on top of injury, laws requiring mandatory use of these seatbelts! The critics, like Ronald Reagan, thought people should have the right to go through their windshield if they wanted to.
But ATV enthusiasts don’t feel preyed upon or singled out. Other members of our society are being targeted and their choices limited by legislation. There is currently a law on the books requiring all bicycles to have brakes capable of bringing the bike to a skid on dry pavement. This directly affects the folks who choose to ride “fixies,” which are fixed gear bicycles commonly used by bike messengers and other “hip” members of society.
But a member of the Oregon Legislature, Jason Atkinson, wants to make fixies exempt from the bicycle brake law. Fixie owners believe that they have so much control over their bike they don’t need to have brakes because they’re able to stop by just seizing up their legs. But unfortunately, this exemption would be pretty hypocritical of Oregon.
Many ATV owners argue that they are quite capable of using their vehicles safely and responsibly as to avoid accidents–like most fixie riders–making stricter regulations needless. Granted, to my knowledge, ATVs are causing many more injuries than fixies currently are causing. But these are two groups who feel strongly that their choices shouldn’t be limited by law.
But is it so much to ask for fixie owners to put some brake calipers on their bicycles? Or even easier, and less noticeable, coaster brakes? You don’t have to use them but they can still be there to appease “the man.” And, hey, you might even avoid an accident by having those handy brakes around.
ATV riders, isn’t it reasonable to legislate safety and responsibility in ATV use? I agree that you should have the right to risk your own life. If you want to go way too fast on your high-powered all-wheel-drive vehicle, I say go for it. But should your 12-year-old son have free reign of your ATV? He can’t go out and drive the car, which has crash safety regulations, so why can he flog the ATV around the back trails?
When it comes down to it I have much respect for both enthusiast groups. I think fixies are neat. And ATVs, I am sure, can be fun. But if people aren’t interested in keeping themselves safe, perhaps it is our responsibility as a culture to force you to be safe like we have in so many other facets of daily life. If not for your own well being then for public financial reasons.
If we’re going to play this game of life together, things are going to have to be at least somewhat equal in terms of limiting potentially dangerous equipment. Installing brakes on your fixie isn’t an outrageous request and limiting who can use your ATV and where, especially your children, is also not so unreasonable.