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Motorcycle.com Staff
by Motorcycle.com Staff

New Fine Structure for Blue Ridge Parkway

By George Obradovich, Aug. 20, 2004
New fines aimed at Parkway speeders
By Becky Johnson

Speeders on the Blue Ridge Parkway are in for steeper fines - now
$500 up from $150 - if park rangers deem the drivers were causing a
serious risk to themselves or others.

Tim Francis, district ranger for the southern portion of the Blue
Ridge Parkway, said the new fine is a much-needed deterrent. Sport
bikes are too frequently clocked going "triple digit speeds" on
curvy stretches, Francis said. The top speed Francis recalls is 120

"Not only were they wrecking, but it was ruining other people's
experience who were trying to take a casual drive," Francis said.

Last year, rangers were battling a group of professional riders who
had a standing challenge to fellow bikers: take the Parkway from
Asheville to Swain County, ride the notorious Dragon's Tail in
Graham County, and return via the Parkway as quickly as possible.

One speeder Francis ticketed for $150 replied it was "worth it" for
the ride he just took.

"They were looking at it as the cost of an admission ticket,"
Francis said. "Some of these guys are good riders and could do it,
but it was ruining other people's experience. Visitors come from all
over the country for nice leisurely rides, not to watch the races."

These excessive speeders pose threats to bicyclists, backpackers,
pedestrians taking pictures near overlooks and wildlife foraging
along the roadside, Francis said

When the $150 fine seemed too lenient given the speed, rangers
required the speeder to appear in court, where a steeper fine could
be levied.

The federal judges were consistently "handing down $500 tickets for
aggravated speeding," said John Garrison, chief ranger for the
Parkway. So this month, U.S. Chief District Court Judge Graham
Mullen changed the law, allowing rangers to write speeders up a $500
ticket per offense on the spot.

"We're recognizing the unique and high dangers represented by these
aggressive driving behaviors," said Garrison. Garrison said the
amount of the ticket will be based on the ranger's discretion of the
circumstances - someone going 60 mph swerving and doing wheelies
could be as grievous as another biker going 80 mph.

Extremely risky driving could earn a $1,000 fine, as rangers can
levy $500 for speeding and another $500 for the separate offense of
reckless driving. In cases where $1,000 still doesn't seem like
enough, rangers can continue to require the speeder to come to
court, Francis said. Francis has taken a speeder to court and the
judge handed down a $1,500 fine.

If the speeder wants to contest a fine, they always have the option
of coming to court, Garrison said. Offenses on the Parkway are heard
in federal court, as the Parkway is federal property
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