Last September 22, six “motorcyclists” — and to be perfectly clear, by motorcyclists, I mean assholes who just happened to be riding motorcycles — decided to take up all three lanes of Highway 401 near Toronto, slowing down traffic so that commuters could witness their prowess at popping wheelies.
Now, in normal circumstances, this would be a page 12, four-column-inch story in any newspaper’s B section, right below an alert that there would be a one-day moratorium on suburban garbage collection and that, will wonders never cease, Lindsay Lohan found herself a new, even more abusive boyfriend. A little scandal, a little outrage, a little earnest sanctimony on the local news station and then it’s on to Donald Trump. Bikers behaving badly is not normally front page news.
What gave this particular incident legs, however — it was the Number One story on nationalpost.com on September 23 as well as opening montage TV news — was that the incident resulted not only in an assault on a female motorist but also a fiery car crash.
Now, never mind that said assault occurred after the female victim got out of her Volkswagen — never a good idea — to confront the miscreants or that the rollover was caused when the driver of the Golf — not the optimum vehicle with which to evade high-powered sport bikes — tried to escape. Never mind that said driver was also a dick — as this is a family magazine I’m only allowed three “assholes” per column and he isn’t worth wasting one of them — not only charged with dangerous driving but also possession of drugs. None of that matters. What matters is CityNews’ Amanda Ferguson leading off the news with “the fiery crash may have ended here, but it began with six motorcyclists stunting and riding aggressively,” followed by the requisite warning from the local constabulary that police are increasing their “monitoring support in the air.” Just what we all need; more scrutiny of two-wheelers when we take the missus out for a brisk ride on the V-Strom.
Nor did the media, with this story involving an assault and an explosion, drop their research into badly behaving bikers. Video has since surfaced of another Toronto stunting incident — just the week before! — this one with more than 50 bikers swarming motorists resulting in yet another fiery crash. Luckily, this time it was just a wheelie gone wrong by one of the (less talented) stunters, resulting in his ride, quickly abandoned, going up in flames.
Toronto is not the only mega-metropolis to suffer gangs of marauding bikers. In 2013, New York City was gripped by panic as hundreds of “Hollywood Stuntz” motorcyclists “swarmed” a Range Rover driving on the Hudson River Parkway. Once again, the degenerates decided the entire road was theirs and even the slightest objection that streets are a shared public utility was met with violence. Yes, a biker was injured in the incident, but the enduring image of the whole affair was, once more, behavior reflecting badly on anyone who rides a bike.
I’m not bringing up this monkey business as some sort of sanctimonious self-flagellation. I feel no original sin — OK, at least as it pertains to biking — just because I ride a motorcycle. Nor do I think public shaming — as if any of the reprobates involved read Cycle Canada — would have any effect on the miscreants: Indeed, I am pretty sure they are reveling in their newfound notoriety.
No, the reason for this scatological diatribe is that I am considering a resolution. It’s time, I think, that I stand up and be counted. Whether it’s confronting one of them to explain he’s acting like — I don’t think I’ll waste one of my precious “assholes” here — a child or, because I’m a big coward, if there’s more than two of them, forwarding their licence plates to the appropriate authorities, I want to be on record as having nothing to do with terrorizing motorists whose only crime would seem to be driving on the same public highway as a motorcyclist.
Yes, it feels suspiciously like being the high-school tattle-tale, but I’m embarrassed to be associated with these you-know-whats. And while I’m pretty sure not a single, solitary Cycle Canada reader condones such behaviour, it is also probably true most of us have never confronted said rapscallions regarding their misdeeds. As Edmund Burke would remind us, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”
Indeed, who among us has not been repulsed by headlines of late and wondered “why don’t the good cops turn in the bad ones” or “why don’t righteous Muslims reign in Muslim jihadists?” That would seem just a little hypocritical, don’t you think, since so few of us in leather ever say or do anything to admonish the asshole — this time I am using the word advisedly — popping a wheelie onto the back bumper of a taxi or doing stoppies right in front of a family sedan full of toddlers.
Nor should any such condemnation be considered a betrayal of our two-wheeled brethren. These morons are not true motorcyclists. They are not even, despite their protests to the contrary, simply enthusiasts trying to hone the delicate art of throttle control. If all they really wanted to do was practice their stupid stunts, I’m pretty sure they could find some abandoned suburban industrial park to perform their two-wheeled acrobatics. No, this has nothing to do with motorcycles and everything to do with a pre-juvenile need for attention. Mommy didn’t give them enough attention? Their dark visored helmets hide acne scars? I really don’t care. I just want them gone.
Besides, 99 percent of them don’t care a whit about motorcycles. These are not lifelong bikers. As soon as they can scrape together enough money, most of them will dump their Yamasuki 600 in favour of a supercharged Mustang that can make even bigger noise without fear of road rash. Their motorcycles are nothing but 12,000-rpm screams for attention and they don’t give a damn about the ruined reputations they leave behind.
Like I said, assholes.