Motorcycle violence puts local event at risk |

Motorcycle violence puts local event at risk

In light of motorcycle gang violence that has erupted in the desert Southwest, the organizers of a 4th of July Harley Davidson rally in Glenwood Springs are wise to scale back the event.

At Thursday’s City Council meeting, Aspen Valley Harley Davidson general manager Bob Snyder announced that the Independence Day rally will not use the new Community Center for events, and the hard rock Molly Hatchet concert at Two Rivers Park has been cancelled.

Snyder’s move headed off what would likely have been an uncomfortable discussion that evening with City Council, which was prepared to rethink the entire event following a week of ugly press reports from Nevada.

The controversy over excessive noise from unmuffled motorcycles ripping through town on one of Glenwood Springs’ busiest tourist weekends has been a debate more or less limited to this newspaper’s letters page and talk on the street.

Harley supporters said the rally and their “loud pipes” are a valiant symbol for the Land of the Free. Opponents said the racket would drive most other folks away, temporarily leaving Glenwood Springs only as the Home of the Brave.

Everyone was prepared to live through the event, and analyze the impacts come July 8.

But the triple fatality shootout in a Laughlin, Nev., casino and the roadside shooting of another biker outside that city last weekend cast our pending biker rally into a new light.

It’s one thing to shatter the relative peace and quiet of a summer weekend with hundreds of unmuffled engines.

It’s another thing entirely to risk exposing our community, with its longstanding reputation as a premium family vacation spot, to violence and bloodshed.

The Harley rally organizers insist that those who will attend this event are fine, upstanding citizens who work professional jobs and just want to feel the wind in their hair. We hope that is correct.

But many are now worried that our event might also attract violent motorcycle gangs with a different agenda.

That’s unlikely, but possible.

The police department will have all hands working that weekend, keeping an eagle eye on crowds. City officials would be in bounds to call for financial assistance from event sponsors to offset the costs of managing this event.

And once we’ve experienced the rally, we should hold a full and open dialogue on whether the event should be repeated.

– Heather McGregor, Managing Editor

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