What if the silent majority is also the smart majority?
by Martin Hackworth
Photo: Ryan and Brittney Faulkner
A glimmer of hope arrived
recently through an unusual mechanism – the blogosphere.
I’ve spent considerable time in the past few weeks following
media accounts of the saga of New Yorker Alexian Lien, his
wife Rosalyn Ng, their two-year old daughter, their Range Rover and,
large group of motorcyclists. Alexian was attacked and dragged from his
SUV in front of his wife and daughter after a relatively minor incident
got spun up into a melee ending in felony assault. Since I write, edit
and publish in the motorcycle industry, I have been inundated with
opinions on this issue. That came as little surprise. What is very
surprising is the quality of opinions that crossed my desk concerning
all of it.
Alexian and Rosalyn were out with their daughter for a drive on the 29th of September to celebrate their anniversary. It was during this Sunday drive that they they crossed paths with a group of motorcyclists under the aegis of an organization known as “Hollywood Stuntz.” Hollywood Stuntz is one of many loose confederations that encourages gatherings in large numbers on public thoroughfares to perform illegal motorcycle stunts. It’s the generation Y version of outlaw motorcycle gangs, except without any real organization and no one remotely as cool as Brando out front.
Motorcycle "stunting" has become well-organized, with several high-profile companies currently pouring a lot of money into sponsored riders and events that help them sell clothing and safety equipment (often of dubious value) and other merchandise. This segment of the industry has become quite profitable, and the popularity of stunt riding is on the rise. From my view, stunt riders, for the most part, get spanked when they venture out of parking lots and onto racetracks where skill is measured more objectively, but that’s OK. Whether my point of view happens to be generally valid or not, different strokes for different folks. There’s plenty of room out there in the world for everyone – as long as everyone behaves. That is certainly not what happened with the group who encountered Lien’s SUV on the Henry Hudson Parkway on that fateful day.
As Lien’s SUV was surrounded, some of the riders deliberately slowed in front of his black Range Rover to assert control over the lane. During the course of this maneuver, Lien’s SUV clipped the back wheel of a bike that slowed quickly, causing the bike to crash. The rider suffered a broken leg. As Lien stopped, he and his family were engulfed by an angry mob who engaged in a variety of menacing behaviors including banging on the Range Rover and slashing it’s tires. Believing that his family was in danger, Lien sped away, running over another of the motorcyclists who suffered serious injuries. Lien and his family were chased for several miles until he was forced into a cul-de-sac on flat tires where they were surrounded once again. Lien ended up getting dragged from his SUV while it’s windows were being smashed, then beaten in front of his wife and child. Intervention on behalf of good Samaritan, Sergio Consuerga, likely prevented him from being more seriously injured or perhaps even killed.
While reading these initial accounts I remember asking myself how this story could possibly get worse. I found out. It is now known that at least one off-duty NYC police officer participated in all of this, and perhaps more than one. That’ll sure reinforce your faith in humanity.
Whatever lack of judgment or panic Lien exhibited in leaving the scene of an accident (he was on a 911 call at the time) pales in comparison to the reasonable desire to get one’s family out of harm’s way. While I certainly feel for the seriously injured rider in this incident (in what appears to be a case of collateral damage), he made choices that put himself in harm’s way. The group that surrounded Lien set into action a course of events that had catastrophic outcomes. Had that been my family out for a Sunday drive in similar circumstances, we’d have likely been in our F-350 Super Duty dually. Try denting that with your motorcycle lid after your buddy puts himself under my front bumper by riding like an ass and let’s see how that works.
I doubt that I am alone in that sentiment.
Why would anyone with riding experience exceeding about three weeks on public thoroughfares assume that a family in a SUV is going to make the world's best split-second decisions, under pressure, in what they perceive as a life-or-death situation? When you put someone behind the 8-ball for no good reason, you bear responsibility for what happens next. It is very difficult for me to feel much sympathy for the motorcyclists in this incident.
The good news is in the unprecedented response to all of this. Support for the aggressors is nearly non-existent. I flat-out did not expect this. There are, to be sure, a few partisans out there who predictably jump to conclusions and reject sense, but most of the responses that I saw were equal parts well-crafted, passionate and contemplative, on both sides – especially as the story developed and the facts became more clear. I think that the vast majority of normally silent riders display a lot more sense than the hotheads who normally populate most motorcycle blogs.
How cool would it be if the vast majority of normally silent people are like that when it comes to everything else?
Associated Press and Idaho Press Club Award-winning columnist Martin Hackworth of Pocatello is a physicist and the editor of MotorcycleJazz.com.
Note: This article first appeared in the October 13 edition of the Idaho State Journal