Is it just me or does the 105th Harley ride in this year seem bigger than the 100th? Driving around town yesterday afternoon, the number of bikes on the road was just staggering. I-94 between Miller Park and the Marquette interchange was only moving at 25-35mph at 2:30 in the afternoon. Several streets within town are blocked off, including Highland Ave. (where Harley is HQ’d) between 35th and 40th Streets.
Since I only live about 12 blocks from Harley HQ, we saw and heard a lot of motorcycle traffic in our otherwise quiet neighborhood, and the amazing thing is it’s only the first day of the weekend long party.
Which leads to my bigger point about concern I have as a regular citizen regarding the massive numbers of people coming here to show off their bikes and “party” it up. In fact, on the first day alone, there were already numerous traffic accidents and at least one death involving motorcycles.
First, I love seeing all these bikes come to town and being able to show off the great things about Milwaukee to many who’ve never been here before. As someone who goes to my fair share of events in other cities throughout the year, I’m happy to play host to all our visitors.
But as with any kind of festival that brings in large amounts of people, there are bound to be problems. Perhaps in the case of the Harley ride in, more than most. The focus of many of the parties throughout Southeastern Wisconsin, after the bikes of course, seems to be one of partying as hard as you can. Several sponsored parties are advertising things like “Pay once, drink all you want!“, “Party till you puke”, and “Worlds record beer bong” among other similar messages.
Now, as anyone who knows me knows, I’m hardly the person to be waving a temperance banner, and that’s not what I’m getting at. I think people should have all the fun they want, with or without alcohol, while they’re here in Milwaukee. In other words, Rock On.
What I am worried about however is the proximity of two things which just don’t mix. Fast motorcycles and mass quantities of alcohol. Throw in the desire to throw caution to the wind, and you’ve got a recipe for disaster.
On top of all this, you now have a judge out in Waukesha who is actually suggesting to law enforcement officials that despite the large influx of people, they ease off on writing tickets to motorcycle riders who are breaking the law:
A municipal judge unhappy with an unfilled vacancy in his court said Wednesday that he will ask police to write fewer tickets, despite big crowds expected downtown this weekend.
“I’ll have to cut down on my trial level and ask the Police Department to cut down on the number of tickets,” Municipal Judge Joseph L. Cook said. “With Harley fest coming up this week, I don’t know what impact that will have on court.”
First off, asking something like that of law enforcement is way outside his authority. Secondly, who the heck cares if it’s going to be more work for you? Should Waukesha law enforcement stop writing tickets anytime your caseload gets to high? I mean seriously, what is Judge Cook thinking?
As with any large festival, law enforcement needs to be visable and proactive for the sole reason of making a statement that unlawful behavior will not be tolerated. For a judge to try to interject his thoughts on law enforcement tactics at this point is simply ridiculous.
To close, I completely welcome all the visitors to Milwaukee this weekend. Enjoy our city, enjoy the comradery, and enjoy most importantly enjoy yourselves! But please, enjoy yourself safely. If you’ve had one too many jaggerbombs, park your bike and pick it up in the morning.