Jun 24 2008
07:43 am
By: R. Neal

A 67 year old Arkansas man was killed yesterday when he rode his Goldwing off US 129 and over a steep embankment.

Last week, some dude on a Suzuki wiped out while trying to pass a truck against a double yellow. He was Lifestar'ed out to U.T. Medical Center. Before rescue crews could clear that incident, some other dude wiped out on a Harley. They found him at a local store and transported him to Blount Memorial.

Brian A.'s picture

I nominate that place to be

I nominate that place to be the first spot in East Tennessee to install speed cameras.

Brian A.
I'd rather be cycling.

djuggler's picture

Treat problems not symptoms

Then we should set exorbitant tolls on all scenic routes for cars as well. Let's make sure the poor cannot enjoy our state and national parks.

As a motorcyclist, have you ridden the dragon? Would you pay your $500 toll?

As a motorcyclist I can say that bad car drivers are responsible for many motorcycle accidents. The only times I almost died were almost exclusively from drivers just cut me off or pulled out in front of me. Fortunately, the lessons the motorcycle safety class taught me helped prevent an accident.

That said, wouldn't encouraging more riders to take the motorcycle safety class be a better solution than charging a toll? You know...treat the problem (poor riding skills) versus treating the symptom (keep riders away).

Perhaps the motorcycle safety course should be taught in high school along with drivers ed. I know I came out of the class a better automobile driver as I as suddenly much more aware of motorcyclists on the road. You want cleaner air and gasoline conservation? Encourage motorcyclists! Don't discourage them.

Doug McCaughan

R. Neal's picture

wouldn't encouraging more

wouldn't encouraging more riders to take the motorcycle safety class be a better solution

Do you really think this guy is going to learn anything in a motorcycle safety class, or even take one? His bike doesn't even look street legal. That said, he was probably one of the more skilled riders out there that day.

(Looking at my photos from this spot, at first I was impressed by how they all stayed in their lane. Then it occurred to me it's a right curve. I should probably set up on a left curve some time.)

Johnny Ringo's picture

That guy's a pro, or at

That guy's a pro, or at least semi-pro. Those aren't the guys who wreck. And no, that bike is not street-legal - it's a race bike.

Joe328's picture


I noticed that the motorcycle is driving centered in the proper lane. If you visit the dragon website it shows videos of THP patrol cars driving about three feet over the centerline in a curve.

As a motorcyclist I have no intentions of driving on the dragon. When navigating the winding back roads in my area, my speed is usually backing up a few cars behind me. Too many driver are over the centerline in curves to take a chance on driving fast.

djuggler's picture

Have you weighed that toll

Have you weighed that toll (not your proposed $500 per bike toll) against the revenue those bikers and tourist (cars) bring into the small towns around the area?

I have ridden the dragon. I was not reckless. I rode it because I wanted to get to Atlanta from Knoxville through the mountains. It was a beautiful trip. I saw small towns and sights that I would not have experienced on the Interstate. I met people and experienced culture that I would not have on the Interstate. The Interstate would have been faster but I am a better person for having taken the path less traveled.

Now, if the proposal for charging $500 per bike or something equally ridiculous every went through, I would have taken the Interstate and your goal of getting me off the mountain would have been achieved. And I would not have eaten in that town's dinner or bought gas from the nice gentleman at the aging filling station. Or heard the old timer's story of the way it was before the National Park. Or grown to appreciate the view from the southwestern side of the Smokies which helped me decide that I-3 is a horrible idea (see http://stopi-3.org/). For people who have never seen the beauty, I am sure plowing an Interstate through there makes sense. I would have never seen the farms which sprawl threatens. And so forth.

There is more good than bad on the Dragon. Focus on the positive. Or justify your arguments with numbers against car and motorcycle accidents on Interstates and other roads and the cost of an accident on the Dragon versus the cost of an accident elsewhere.

Doug McCaughan

djuggler's picture

I have no emotional

I have no emotional attachment to US129. I appreciate its beauty. I recognize the value that these tourist bring to the area.

"Do people or do people not drive reckless on US129?"
Do people drive recklessly on I-40? On Kingston Pike? Reckless drivers are everywhere. Why are we singling out the Dragon?

Doug McCaughan

R. Neal's picture

Couple of things. One, how

Couple of things.

One, how many tourists are the lawless activities up there driving away? It's being promoted as a place to come and act wild and reckless, not a place of natural beauty, and in fact they type of tourism that's being promoted detracts significantly from the natural beauty and it's spilling over into the GSMNP.

Two, there are no websites, subcultures, commercial promotions, legends, etc. that promote Kingston Pike as a place to come and drag race or act wild and reckless (Thunder Road notwithstanding). That's why we're talking about US129 and not Kingston Pike.

(We can have a whole other conversation about Alcoa Highway if you want.)

djuggler's picture

I drove past speed cameras

I drove past speed cameras in North Carolina this past week and I'm against them. The interstate dropped from 70mph to 60mph a few miles before the cameras, was on a downhill, and I knew they were coming. As we hit the series of signs with numbers printed on it (which I was expecting), I was going slower than the speed of traffic and I look down to see that I'm 8mph over the speed limit (but slowing). The cameras come in a series of 3 with 10 mile marker style signs with the numbers 1 2 3...9 0 on them before and 10 after each camera (that's 30 signs along the road) plus 2 cameras at each grouping (6 cameras). I had 18 wheelers in the right hand lane which aren't supposed to be in the left hand lane practically driving over me as I struggled to get the speed down to the state's reduced limit. That's not good for their trucks, their gas mileage, or their brakes (nor mine on all 3 counts).

Safe driving is predictable driving. Interstate traffic is safer than city traffic because we typically have more visibility and traffic moves as a unit. If the unit judges the road conditions safe to go 75 then we should be allowed to go 75mph. If the unit slows to 45mph due to rain or a wreck or some other condition then that should be the limit. Tickets for "wreckless driving" (not speeding) should be given to the anomalies. If I am driving 90mph and the speed of traffic is 72mph, then I am a hazard and should be ticketed. Cameras cannot make that call.

As for the dragon, its just more newsworthy that other accident sites. Hwy 129 between Knoxville and the airport used to be called the deadliest road in America before its expansion and straightening. Cameras would not have changed that. Treat problems not symptoms. Close the dragon? No. Accept it as an attraction for motorcyclists who understand the risks? Yes. Look at the statistics and compare accidents on the dragon to other places in the country and I bet its pretty on par..just more sensational. I also bet not all the accidents are from speeding. Its a challenging ride and a rider who loses confidence at low speed can just as easily put a bike down as one whipping through the corners. It's a matter of physics.

Doug McCaughan

WhitesCreek's picture

Instead of Speed Cameras,

Instead of Speed Cameras, why not Decibel Cameras?

talidapali's picture

Actually a greater deterrent might be...

a BIG sign at both entrances to that section of 129 with a listing of ALL the Darwin Award Recipents that earned their places on the list on that stretch of highway, and maybe a few pics of what they actually did to earn their place?

"You can't fix stupid..." ~ Ron White"
"I never said I wasn't a brat..." ~ Talidapali

fletch's picture

Wouldn't work as a

Wouldn't work as a deterrent. Being true Darwin Award candidates and recipients, they are proud of it. Hence we have the Tree of Shame.

local rider's picture


You folks sure do like to show your ignorance.

4 2wheelers's picture

The amount of ignorance

The amount of ignorance about, and contempt for, bikers is almost unbelievable, but not quite if you've ever operated a 'two wheeler.' Most of the bikers I know are have completed operator education, wear proper riding gear, carefully maintain their motorcycles and drive defensively.

What is really needed is more education on safely SHARING the road for ALL drivers.

If you do a little research (it doesn't take much, try the NHTSA website) you'll find that the biggest driver factor statistic in motorcycle vs. passenger vehicle crashes with fatalities is the passenger vehicle driver's Failure to Yield Right of Way at a whopping 35.2%.

me's picture

There are just as many

There are just as many "non-skilled" people on the road that drive delivery trucks, cars, SUV's, pick-ups, and scooters. Those people speed, cross the center line, run stop signs and traffic lights. They cause many more accidents on everything from city streets to interstates. There are people that wreck on the dragon because they are not skilled enough to navigate it. There are people that wreck on I-40 because they are not skilled enough to navigate it. There are people that wreck on the dragon because they speed. There are people that wreck on I-40 because they speed. The only major difference between US Hwy 129 for an eleven mile stretch between Tabcat Bridge and Deals Gap and I-40 is the amount of publicity it receives by media types and common folks that don't have anything better to do than manufacture a crisis for our government bureaucracy to attempt to manage.

talidapali's picture

I haven't got a thing against bikers...

someday I hope to be able to own a bike myself...I love Harleys. BUT, I do not see the appeal in risking your life and others lives by pushing your bike to the limit of it's tolerances on a public highway.

Do car drivers not pay attention much to bikers on the road...in some cases...ABSOLUTELY.

But come on, you have to admit...there are some real jackasses on bikes out there that do incredibly STUPID and dangerous things, forgetting that they, too, must share a road with vehicles that outweigh them and their bikes by many hundreds of pounds. Bike versus car always turns out the same way car versus eighteen-wheeler turns out. The bigger guy "wins". I have seen people nearly run themselves off the road to avoid hitting a motorcyclist that was speeding and weaving in and out of traffic just because he had a smaller, faster vehicle, and he thought he had the right to ride however he pleased regardless of the other folks on the road.

I am glad there is a fun road to ride like 129, but just because it's there doesn't mean you have to open up your head and dump your brains out before you hop on your bike and go racing with the devil on the Dragon.

Like my signature sez...
"You can't fix stupid..." ~ Ron White"
"I never said I wasn't a brat..." ~ Talidapali

yourallstupid's picture


This is the most hilarious crap I have ever read. Do you idiots realize that right here in CHATTANOOGA,TN we have more accident and fatal accidents of motorcyclists than at the DRAGON or even near the dragon and prehaps even a couple of cities added onto their figures. Seriously, its only an issue because of its location and the added effort it takes to get the injured out of that area. If they had to life-flight someone out of downtown Nashville it would make the new one night and never spoke of again. However, when you have to life-flight someone from a remote area such as the Dragon it seems like its a bigger deal! I think they are just pissed at the gas prices for choppers and are trying to cut back.

Knoxquerious's picture

Common courtesy should tell

Common courtesy should tell you not to begin a conversation with STFU. Furthermore, a name like "you(re)allstupid" won't get you much credibility around here or in CHATTANOOGA,TN.

4 2wheelers's picture

Oh, what I'll admit is that

Oh, what I'll admit is that there are some real jackasses operating all kinds of vehicles out there that do incredibly STUPID and dangerous things, forgetting that they, too, must share a road with vehicles that outweigh them and that they outweigh by many hundreds of pounds.

Honestly, I'm much more concerned about/on my daily commute to and from work with the 30-something year old soccer mom driving her 5200lb Tahoe, while talking or texting on her cell phone, drinking a latte, smoking a cigarette, changing the channel on her onboard satellite TV/radio. For added effect, add a bunch of unruly kids in the back. On a daily basis, I've experienced many more 'near misses' with those types of drivers than I have with bikers and those types of drivers are prevalent all over America not just on unusual stretches of road such as the Dragon. On my morning commute, I've seen drivers doing all kinds of tasks that distract them from driving. In particular I see a lot of women applying their makeup while driving. It amazes me what people think they can safely do while they're operating a motor vehicle in traffic. I also get passed in a double solid line no passing zone just about every day and I drive at least the speed limit and usually 5-10 over so people won't ride my butt. People would rather risk their life and health, and that of others, rather than do what's necessary to leave for their jobs in time to be able to travel safely.

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