Negative Effects of Pollution on Traffic

E-Commando Tactics columnist Roger Lovin discusses a reader's letter commenting on how heavy pollution appears to slow down the efficiency of cars and motorcycles.

| July/August 1971

  • Pollution effects car and motorcycle performance.
    Like other forms of lung pollution, smog is tolerated because we all think that we'll get out of the city before it gets us . . . or that the government or Ralph Nader will clean things up in time. 

  • Pollution effects car and motorcycle performance.

A couple of weeks ago I got a letter from a reader of my column, ECOMMANDO TACTICS, which appears in the L.A. FREE PRESS. The reader—George Tucker—wrote, in part, thus:

During the past eight months I have quite frequently ridden my motorcycle on the Pomona Freeway from L.A. to Pomona and back. Very early it struck me that I lost power at the intersection with the 605 Freeway, so much so that I usually pulled over to the right hand lane, minimized wind resistance and hoped for the best. During most of this time I knew the engine wasn't working properly but I thought that it had just reached a point of warming up at that place, thereby causing some reaction . . . and that perhaps I was hitting a headwind coming from Pomona. 

Then I removed the instruction manual from its position blocking the air intake and made a few more trips. Now the machine functions beautifully on both sides of the intersection but still loses most of its power at the same place.  

I couldn't understand it at all until last weekend. Then—in the midst of reading the Nader Task Force report, Vanishing Air —I made a trip to Pomona after running a few errands in L.A. and definitely getting the cycle well worked into the groove and running smoothly.  

Coming back, I took the San Bernardino Freeway, which is more crowded and more polluted than the Pomona and the machine developed even less power! When traffic got particularly heavy I actually had to gear down!  

Right! Who says machines are dumb? They have more sense than humans when it comes to pollutin'; when things get too bad they just stop running! No wonder new cars need more horsepower than old ones: they have to compete harder for oxygen, just like you and me.  

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