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Sport bike “brake checked” the SUV driver

Sport bike “brake checked” the SUV driver

I delayed writing, not wanting to initially pile on, about the incident that occurred in New York City on Sunday, Sept. 29, involving an SUV driver and some motorcyclists.  But, I’ve received a number of emails on the topic and thought now was an appropriate  time to weigh in.

You might recall that the video (which was recently pulled down from YouTube), showed a dude riding a white sport bike who clearly pulled in front of the SUV and “brake checked” the driver.  The SUV is surrounded by bikers and had little space to maneuver, and bumped the white bike.  That seemed to be the issue that sparked a number of poor choices.  Later the rider was arrested and charged with “reckless endangerment, reckless driving, menacing and endangering the welfare of a child” and then bailed out.

My first thought is that if a rider chooses to brake check a SUV on a 3-lane highway within a few feet of the front bumper… getting hit is a reasonable expectation.  No motorcyclist deserves to get hit by a car and I’m not advocating the SUV driver was right in doing so.  There are a number of other videos posted by the same guy who put up that original SUV video, which indicates that riders were rolling down the sidewalk at speed, blowing a dozen red lights en masse, traveling on the wrong side of the road, and surrounded and beat on a Toyota Prius. 

It was an average Sunday afternoon motorcycle ride that started as a celebration to mark the end of the summer.  However, prior to the SUV incident, the police got notice of the massive riding group and set up checkpoints to inspect bikes and their riders at bridges and tunnels going into Manhattan. At least 15 people were arrested (mostly on vehicular charges), and 55 motorcycles were impounded which actually served to help break up the massive informal ride and sent splinter groups riding off in different directions.

We’ve all seen these “street stunt rides” where 100’s of motorcycles are observed forcing vehicles to stop or move to the side of the road while riders perform various “stunts” and record each other to then post onto the Web.  Unfortunately they’ve become fairly common.

I wasn’t there, but I was troubled by the serious injuries caused by the SUV driver and the escalating actions by some of the motorcyclists who apparently decided to take the law into their own hands.  

There is an estimated 27 million motorcyclists in America.  This incident, fueled by the media sensationalizing the story has helped create a false image of all motorcyclists in the general public and truly damaged the recreational sport.

Like many of you, I ride responsibly and do my part to represent motorcycling in a positive light.  And many of us who ride support rider education and are involved in rides to raise funds for charitable causes in our community.  Having a good friend recently be involved in a motorcycle accident with an automobile driver trying to “beat a red light” has made road safety, especially for motorcyclists, an acute concern to me and I don’t support the actions of this riding group.  On so many levels these motorcycle riders were wrong PERIOD.

Nobody deserves to be hit and the guy in the SUV might have been able to defused the situation, but not being there or knowing his frame of mind about the safety of his family, it’s not unreasonable to expect the SUV driver to panic and take off when surrounded by dozens of angry guys who have been riding very aggressive and reckless.

To date, four motorcyclists have been arrested with more arrests in-flight over this incident.  I would anticipate they will be used as a legal poster-child for a gang-like assault in court.

Photo courtesy of YouTube screen grab

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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The first stop in Detroit of Sheen’s My Violent Torpedo of Truth/Defeat is Not an Option variety ‘warlock’ show occurred this past Saturday night.  According to reports thunderous applause at the start, but in about an hour “fans” walked out wanting their money refunded.  Ultimately the conclusion of the first show being — let’s just call it un-winning?

Charlie Sheen made the mistake of thinking the audience was on his side.  That’s what happens when you descend from your showbiz perch, step out of the television and enter the realm of the common man, you find out we’re all equal.  And that if you don’t give a great presentation, we’ll tear you down from your peak.  Don’t think that just because people paid to see you, they’re on your side.  You’re no longer at the mercy of the critics, you’re at the mercy of the public.  A $100 ticket member of the audience is no longer passive, they’ll provide an opinion not only through catcalls and boos, but will tweet and blog as those who care will follow along from home.

For Sheen to play to fewer people over the next 19 cites with even less attention would not only be a PR disaster, but devastating to his pride so, one can only assume there will be some show cancellations.  But, the big story of the past six months is that the people rule.  It happened in the Middle East, it’s happening here.  How long do you expect people to overwork just to make ends meet while an “undeserving” upper class gets to live in an alternative universe?  According to Wikipedia, a humble person is “someone who does not think that he or she is better or more important than others.”

Is there a H-D motor company lesson here?

If you’re one of the privileged, don’t intersect with the public.  Fly private, live behind a gate or a guard, avoid publicity.  Because the little people are there, waiting to pounce on every misstep?  Then again, what if the motorcycle world is ready for a true leader, who knows all this, who is not beholden to the public so much as cognizant of the landscape and willing to march forward into the future.

Does that describe Harley-Davidson?

Jim Collins, who has spent double digit years researching how certain companies are able to sustain superlative performance and identified a key ingredient — having a Level 5 leader — an executive in whom genuine personal humility blends with intense professional will was essential to take a company from good to great.  Transforming a good company into a great one also included getting the right people on the bus (and the wrong people off the bus).  In other (my) words, true professionals don’t equate attention with talent.  They don’t equate notoriety with a career.  They don’t equate an initial demand with longevity.  They don’t set themselves up for ridicule because the smell of a stunt stinks worldwide and people (motorcyclists) know what is good.

One of the most common causes of failure once people (or companies) achieve significant success in business is an out of balance ego.

Photo courtesy of Flickr

All Rights Reserved © Northwest Harley Blog

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