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It's the story that just won't go away. For the past day or two now, new details have emerged about the incident that took place this past weekend in New York City. In case you missed it (and if you did that, you also probably have no idea how Breaking Bad ended), the video is at the bottom of the post.
Now, why am I talking about this?
This affects us all no matter what your point of view, so I'm going to share mine. It's tragic for the young man who was crushed by the car and by all accounts may never walk again. It's tragic that a large group of motorcyclists think they can take over a highway and intimidate drivers. It's tragic that a car driver got scared. But what's most tragic is the media's coverage of it.
Let's start with the facts:
1. It is beyond doubt that these motorcyclists initiated the confrontation. They were clearly swarming the car and brake checking (or so I believe it's called). The speculation is the riders were making room on the Manhattan West Highway to stunt, but there's no evidence of that.
2. It's beyond doubt that the Range Rover touches the rear wheel of a motorcyclist doing a brake check. No-one is harmed at this point, but it inevitably leads to a confrontation as the motorcyclists stop and swarm the car.
3. It's beyond doubt that the Range Rover, after about 10 seconds, decides to use his vehicle as a weapon and deliberately run over at least one rider and his machine. That rider will never walk again.
4. It's beyond doubt that the motorcyclists pursued the car in order to confront the driver.
5. It's beyond doubt that two motorcyclists then assaulted the car driver.
So, who's to blame?
Well, you can say the motorcycle riders were clearly agitating the driver in Point 1. This is (I am told) illegal under New York State laws. The prudent thing for the car driver to do would have been to pull over and report it. I'm sure the driver had a phone and camera. A fews pics of license plates and a quick call to the police and it's done.
For Point 2, the motorcyclists could and should have realized they don't own the road. They're not on a police escorted ride so they can't take over the road. If one of them got bumped, they should have let it go. No one was hurt at that point. And besides, they too could have called the police, right?
Point 3 is ugly. I've seen this a number of times. The driver used his car as a weapon and deliberately tries to injure another human being. Isn't that attempted manslaughter? And then, after deliberately causing harm to another person(s) and their property, he flees the scene of the accident! Isn't that another crime right there?
Point 4 is stupid. Realizing what the driver has done, a number of bikers attempted to chase him down. All the camera man needed to do was catch up and get a good shot of the driver's license plate, call the cops, hand over the memory card and it's game over Range Rover.
Instead, it ends with the horrific scene most people will remember. Gangs of bikers swarming a car and beating the driver.
Can we agree that both sides are to blame? Nobody knows what started it, but both the motorcyclists and driver decided to deal with it their way. Tragic. But not as tragic as how motorcyclists are being portrayed in main stream media as a result.
As ABC News said:Â A group of motorcyclists riding in New York City on Sunday chased and then attacked the driver of an SUV after he collided into a biker, while one biker filmed the entire confrontation, police said today.
It continues ...
* The Range Rover then tapping the fender of a motorcyclist...
* The motorcyclists then began damaging the Range Rover and slashed one the tires...
* As he was attempting to flee, the SUV driver hit a motorcyclist before speeding off...
The news headlines demonstrate an institutional bias against motorcyclists. Across the board, the car driver is portrayed as the victim. Other news outlets are no better:
NYPD Hunt For Bikers Who Attacked Driver (Sky News)
Range Rover driver chased by bikers in New York road rage incident (Telegraph UK)
After Motorcyclist Is Struck, Driver Is Pulled From S.U.V. and Beaten, the Police Say (NY Times)
Yes, the motorcyclists involved in this incident are idiots. Riding illegally, slowing traffic, doing break checks. They're squids.Â I for one hope the riders involved are both caught and punished to the full extent of the law. However, at no time did any of the motorcyclists use their vehicle as a weapon.
The car driver did. It's hard to see him "hitting" a motorcyclist as anything other than a deliberate attack. Sure he's "defending" his family, but how much danger are they really in? Until he hit three bikes and crushed one human, no- one appeared to be attacking him in any way other than verbally (the tire slashing has not yet been confirmed).
This is going to end badly for motorcyclists. Firstly, any time more than a few of us ride together, drivers will remember it, so will lawmakers. Remember the Ride of the Century?Â That didn't end well either. Before you know it, legislators and public opinion may push bikes out of major cities and there will be no more bikes anywhere.
What can we do about it? I don't know but we need to think of something and fast. Should we wear open face helmets and three piece suits to show how distinguished we are? Do we need to wave and smile at old ladies and children alike as we pass them at legal speeds? Do we need to stop and help car drivers stuck on the side of the road? Because like it or not, this video is how drivers see us today.
Whatever happens, let's not lose sight of the fact that the car driver was at fault, too. And just as the law will punish the riders, the law must equally punish the driver.
The story in full...