Ralph Couey

Ralph Couey
Photo by Darryl Cannon, Powerhead Productions

About Me

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Husband, father, grandfather, friend...a few of the roles acquired in 62 years of living.  I keep an upbeat attitude, loving humor and the singular freedom of a perfect laugh.  I don't let curmudgeons ruin my day; that only gives them power over me.  Having experienced death once, I no longer fear it, although I am still frightened by the process of dying.  I love to write because it allows me the freedom to vent those complex feelings that bounce restlessly off the walls of my mind; and express the beauty that can only be found within the human heart.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Legislation Alert!!!

LEGISLATION ALERT:  For those who insist on using city streets as your personal race track, heed this story from Vancouver, Canada:

Two accused road racers face motorcycle forfeitures

Process provides civil penalties for criminal behaviour, critic charges

Two men charged with dangerous driving in October after allegedly racing their Honda motorcycles on Metro Vancouver highways could be the latest victims of the B.C. Civil Forfeiture Act.

Law enforcement officials are seeking to sell the street bikes and keep the proceeds under the 2006 legislation, which states vehicles can be forfeited and sold if a civil court rules unlawful activity -- such as impaired driving or street racing -- could have caused severe injury or death.

Rob Kroeker, executive director of the Civil Forfeiture Office, confirmed "the case is before us but we're not going to comment on that."

The move worries Ian Tootill, cofounder of Safety by Education Not Speed Enforcement, who said he's becoming increasingly concerned about the trend of forfeitures and seizures, noting "this [Civil Forfeiture] Act is intended to seize the proceeds of ill-gotten gains."

"We're dead set against this. When did it start being acceptable to start seizing assets of people who broke the law?" he asked. "We've never been happy with the legislation [around] street racing ... this obviously is not a case of street racing set up as a spectator sport. It's two guys driving fast on street bikes."

Micheal Vonn, policy director of the B.C. Civil Liberties Association, argued her group doesn't support civil forfeiture at all, noting that if someone breaches the Criminal Code, they should be prosecuted through the criminal process.

She said the government has set a lower bar -- on the balance of probabilities rather than the proportionality of fines -- as the basis to seize property. This means a soccer mom racing to a game could lose her station wagon instead of being handed a $175 fine.

And because it's a civil matter, she added, most residents would be unrepresented because they wouldn't be able to afford a lawyer.

"In a criminal world, it's the punishment fits the crime. There's no sense of fundamental fairness of where this is appropriate," Vonn said, noting an appropriate remedy for speeding tickets is a fine. "As we predicted, this is becoming more popular by law enforcement because it's a money-maker."

Last month, a $235,000 Ferrari, the most valuable vehicle ever seized by the province, was impounded after a street race that reached speeds of 200 km/h. The blue 2008 Ferrari Scuderia and a white 2008 BMW M6 nearly hit a woman and her two young children walking along the side of the road as they raced up Mount Seymour in a 60-km/h zone on Sept. 25, according to the RCMP.

Solicitor-General Rich Coleman said last month the high-end Ferrari and BMW were the most "salacious" vehicles removed from the road since a 2008 amendment to the Civil Forfeiture Act gave the province authority to seize vehicles driven recklessly.

It was the first time vehicles have been taken by the province because of dangerous driving.
The Ferrari was to be sold to a local dealer for $235,000, with 50 per cent of the proceeds going to a relative of the driver who was part owner with the driver but was not involved in the incident. The province will receive 20 per cent and the driver 30 per cent. Coleman said some of the sale money has to go back to the owners because they have bank loans to cover.

Since 2006, more than $13 million in cash and assets have been forfeited to the province, including $4.4 million since April 1.

Read more: http://www.vancouversun.com/news/accused+road+racers+face+motorcycle+forfeitures/3967093/story.html#ixzz180W9o83V

Friday, December 3, 2010

Protecting Our Right to Ride

Copyright © 2011 by Ralph Couey

Without a doubt the most controversial topic in the motorcycle community is the eternal debate over helmet laws.  The two schools of thought are sharply divided.  On one side are what I call the Freebirds.  They prize personal freedom above all, reasoning that if the individual is willing to undertake the risk and accept the responsibilities for that decision, then they should be allowed to go bare-headed.  On the other side are the Pragmatists.  While this bunch embraces the freedom of the ride, they respect mortality.  They understand that the road is not within their control, so they choose to wear the “Brain Bucket.”

Freebirds say that helmets restrict peripheral vision and add dangerous weight to the head, increasing the danger of cervical spinal injury.  Pragmatists say that even a slow fall to the asphalt can bounce the head hard enough to do serious damage, and that road debris thrown up by cars and trucks towards the rider’s head is a real danger.

For the record, I’m a Pragmatist.

Part of the frustration rises out of vacuous opinions put forward by talking heads who wouldn’t know a swing arm from a steering head bearing.  These willfully ignorant remain convinced that all bikers are outlaws who traffic drugs, cause riots, and (gasp!) go weeks without bathing.