Blue Ridge Parkway

Boone, North CarolinaMay 23, 20120 Comments

On Saturday, 5 MAY 2012, while traveling south on the Blue Ridge Parkway with two young friends from China on their first visit to the USA, I was stopped for speeding by Officer (name deleted) of the National Park Service at Mile Post 268, not far from where Route 421 crosses the Parkway east of Boone, North Carolina.

It was a clear, dry day. A car in front of mine was also cited. Both of us were cited for exceeding the posted speed limit of 45 mph for the entire Parkway.

Officer (name deleted) had parked his vehicle on the north bound shoulder at the base of one of the few long straight down hill and up hill sections of the Parkway, a perfect spot to have a clear radar detection of motorists who, in driving the beautiful, but tortuous, roadway, would most likely relax a bit seeing ahead of them a 1 kilometer straight stretch of roadway without cross traffic opportunities or other traffic movement constrictions.

Significantly less than five per cent of the entire Parkway has roadway such as this section that at any other rural road location would have surely been posted at 55 or 60 mph. Indeed, more than 50 per cent of the Parkway is not safely traveled at the posted speed limit. Officer (name deleted) perhaps had to demonstrate the value of his service in a likely overtime situation on a Saturday assignment, and he knew exactly where he could get the maximum return for his efforts. Had he placed himself at almost any other location along the Parkway, he would not have had much to show for his weekend work.

At the very least, I hope that some portion of my $100 fine is used to advance the environmental and recreational benefits of the Parkway, not just to pay for the Officer (name deleted) of Federal employ to speed trap safe drivers. While Officer (name deleted) was professional in administering his duties, his closing admonishment was to drive slower to keep from hitting boulders on the roadway. I restrained myself in responding that anywhere there were likely to be boulders in the roadway, I probably could not drive close to or at the speed limit because the roadway, even free of boulders, was too abruptly curvy for me to do so. On the section where I was stopped, the likelihood of boulders appearing from somewhere beside the road was as probable as one appearing in my living room.

My Chinese friends were appalled at the experience, well aware of such entrapment in their country but believing the USA was different.

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