Political Rant About Lead Poisoning…

If you don’t want to read my rants and raves, it won’t hurt my feeling(s).  I’m upset about a recent federal law that was passed that impacts motorcycles, so again, if you’re not interested, today’s not your day to read my blog.

 

A Congressional act issued in response to last year’s Chinese lead-tainted toys scandal could inadvertently end the sale of children’s motorcycles like the popular Honda CRF50F.”  Well, the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act passed last year and was enacted into law on February 10th.  This seems like a good thing.  Our children will have fewer toys with lead paint or lead tainted parts that can make them sick.  In order for them to become sick, they need to ingest the lead.  Children don’t typically eat motorcycle parts of course, and unfortunately this law is so general and broad it’s now illegal to sell motorcycles designed or marketed to children age 12 and under.

 

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When I was a kid, about the third or fourth grade, my father bought me a Yamaha JT1 60cc motorcycle.  He bought two in fact, used, one in pieces and the other to ride.  It was one of the most important things I had as a child and something that I’ve thought about for over 25 years now.  My motorcycle was red, and I called it “Little Red”, after John Steinbeck’s, The Red Pony (I was a reader when I was young, and liked Steinbeck).  Seems weird maybe to name a motorcycle, but I did.  When I wanted to ride I’d say something like, “Dad, I’m going to take Little Red out.”  I must have dropped that bike a thousand times while owning it.  Probably a hundred times before I could ride it with much confidence, then hundreds more as I decided to ride jumps, off camber hillsides and through desert washes.  That bike represented to me: freedom, responsibility, and a lot more.  It also was a symbol of my father’s trust and confidence in me.  There is a lot of responsibility in having the ability to leave the house, on a motorcycle, as an elementary aged kid, and not be seen for hours.  I think a lot of us remember that, going out to “play” and coming home when the sun went down.  I don’t know if kids today have that opportunity, but it’s something I remember with great fondness.  “Little Red” was a big part of that in my life.

 

It wasn’t long before I was riding that bike as fast as it would go, throttle pegged.  I’d watch a motorcycle movie like “On Any Sunday”, then go out and try to get it sideways into corners thinking someday I’d be a flat track racer.  Or, I’d try to ride a wheelie farther and farther, or hit a jump a bit faster than I ever had before, thinking one day Evel Knievel would be watching me hit a jump and fly over a dozen or more school buses all lined up between the take-off and landing ramps.  None of that happened of course.  At the time, there wasn’t anything more important

 

I graduated to a bigger bike, another Yamaha, but 100cc this time.  I couldn’t reach the ground so my father set a railroad tie (a large square piece of wood) in the field across the street from our house so I could get a foot on it to keep from dropping the now larger bike.  I’d have to walk the bike across the street, to the field and next to the railroad tie.  I’d have to stand on the piece of wood, swing a leg over the bike and kick start it without losing my balance and falling to the other side where I didn’t have a support.  I’d try to stop right at that railroad tie, hoping I wasn’t coming in too hot and fast so I didn’t overshoot it, then have to walk the bike back to the house to get more gas, or lunch.  I’d ride until I needed more gas, or it got dark.  I’d let my brother and friend from across the street ride, we’d take turns burning laps around the vacant fields near our houses.

 

There were other motorcycles in my life, other dirt bikes I owned, and a couple of street bikes too.  I rode a motorcycle in college in fact.  So, when I met my girlfriend in college, now my wife, I told her that there would be motorcycles in my life, and in the life of our kids if we had them.  We did have kids, two, and I’ve always thought they’d have the same experience I had.  That I would be the father mine was to me, that I’d have the opportunity to give them the motorcycle experience.  I’ve been trying to come to terms with what’s age-appropriate, because I wanted to buy a motorcycle for my son when he was only two, then three, then realized I should wait and have him sit on a couple motorcycles when he was a little older.  We went to the local dealer a couple months ago, just before Christmas and he sat on a Honda CRF50 and looked so excited.  I decided I’d do what I needed to do to make that his next Christmas present, for him and his sister.  Unknown to me, there was a federal law that would take effect, in order to prevent him from ingesting lead from Chinese toys, that would take that dream away.

 

There aren’t any parts of a motorcycle that a kid would eat.  You can’t get lead poisoning from riding a motorcycle.  Dealers are no longer allowed to sell 50cc – 80cc motorcycles.  They can’t do maintenance or repairs on them (the repair or maintenance parts might have lead in them).  I’ve done what I can to let my congress-people know what I think, but it’s still the law.

 

There are no more opportunities to purchase a “Little Red” for my kids next Christmas, and today, I’m sad.

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2 Responses to “Political Rant About Lead Poisoning…”

  1. susanprunty Says:

    The stories of “Little Red” are legendary and I’m sad for you too. Hopefully the people will see the error of their ways and correct this misinterpreted law.

  2. Susan Says:

    Where’s the blog?

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