Vogel: That could've been you with those bikers
That could have been me.
Last week, Alexian Lien was severely beaten after he hit a motorcyclist when a group of bikers surrounded his SUV.
A few days before that, a friend and I were driving from Westchester to downtown Manhattan. As we turned onto the Henry Hudson Highway, a swarm of 50 or 60 bikers came out of nowhere. One of them suddenly cut in front of our car. My friend jammed on the brakes, missing the cyclist by inches.
If he hadn't, I can't help but wonder: Might we have been the ones menaced, chased and beaten?
Or maybe it could have been you -- even if you don't have a car. A woman I know was nearly mowed down by a swarm of bikers as she attempted to cross Queens Boulevard one night a couple of weeks ago.
Meanwhile, ask people from the Bronx or upper Manhattan about the gangs of motorcyclists and dirt bikers that rampage through their neighborhoods, ignoring lights, performing stunts, and hopping on and off the sidewalk.
These incidents are not happening too quickly for police to respond. Just as when we drove five miles down the West Side Highway with bikers weaving in and out of the lanes, Lien's nightmare chase also lasted for miles. Yet not a solitary motorcycle cop or police car appeared in our case, despite our frantic calls to 911, and it took numerous calls and far too long for a response to Lien.
What gives? According to a story in the New York Post, cops have been instructed not to chase rampaging bikers because of the chance innocent civilians may be hurt. I've seen cops pursue a lone speeding motorist up the East River Drive, but scores of speeding bikers bent on revenge is off limits?
And so, inevitably, there will be other Alexian Liens. There will be accidents and multi-car pileups as drivers try to avoid marauding bikers.
I don't know if the police policy of not giving pursuit makes sense, and the fact that an undercover officer was among the biker gang makes the whole story more disturbing. What I do know is what will happen if you find yourself on a New York City highway and you accidentally clip a motorcycle gang member who cuts you off.
You're on your own. Is that really what New Yorkers deserve?
Playwright Mike Vogel blogs at newyorkgritty.net.