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. 


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.  

mother earth news fair


Oct. 21-22, 2017
Topeka, KS.

More than 150 workshops, great deals from more than 200 exhibitors, off-stage demos, inspirational keynotes, and great food!