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Published on October 25, 1999

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Tires, In Print

San Francisco officials are wrong in trying to outlaw colored-tread tires as a means of preventing gang violence. Their effort, though well-intentioned, would only restrict freedoms of tire makers and users alike to build and buy products of their choosing. It would do nothing to solve the city's gang problem.

The issue arose after Michelin introduced its BFGoodrich Scorcher colored-tread tire line.

Lawmakers rightly were bothered by the intial promotional video, depicting a car burning rubber and leaving colored skid patches on the road. That's a legitimate safety issue.

Michelin appropriately axed the footage and apologized, but refused to withhold the product from the Northern California market.

But lawmakers worry that gang members will use the tires to mark their territories, thereby inciting gang rivalry and defacing city streets.

While such activities raise concern, tires are not the issue.

The city should deal with gangs in ways that don't restrict the freedom to make and buy useful and safe products.

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