So just who was at fault this past weekend after a confrontation between a driver and a group of motorcyclists left one cyclist paralyzed and the driver beaten? This happened on the West Wide of Manhattan, not exactly a place you'd think was prime territory for a huge gathering of bikers. Many have seen video of the scene last Sunday, but for those who have never experienced being surrounded by a group of cyclists, some context is in order.
Back in the day, motorcycle gangs rode in a tightly knit group, that is, not weaving in or out of traffic or popping wheelies. That wasn't their purpose or their point. Say what you will about their illegal activities, but the Hell's Angels, in particular the chapter whose headquarters was on East 3rd St. in downtown Manhattan were well organized when they took to the streets. They didn't trouble motorists, and people in cars knew better than to intrude on their clearly defined space.
Bikers today are different. They weave in and out of traffic, and rarely stay together as a group. One consequence of this is the bikes at the front often stop and wait for others to catch up. Drivers will also complain about the noise and the wheelies, and a sense of belligerence that seems to radiate from these modern day cyclists.
Those who ride in these groups will tell you they're only out of a day's fun. The weekend gathering was massive, and included bikers from the city, suburbs, and in the case of the injured biker, Edwin "Jay" Mieses, from Lawrence, Mass. There are conflicting reports about what exactly happened, but apparently one biker slowed to a halt of the West Side Highway in front of a Range Rover driven by Alexian Lien, who was with his wife and two year old child. Lien reportedly hit that driver, then panicked and sped away, hitting several bikers in the process.
This entire mess is an object lesson in road manners and respect. Had the cyclist not stopped in front of an SUV, it's likely nothing would have happened. if Lien had stopped and not tried to flee, it's likely the same result, nothing. Instead, we have a beatdown, a crippling injury, and the certainty this circus of ugliness won't end since the injured biker has hired pitbull lawyer Gloria Allred. Charges may still be filed against other bikers in relation to the beating of Lien.
Will anybody learn anything from all this? Probably not.