Motorcycle hooliganism

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Motorcycle hooliganism[1] includes street racing, street stunting, and games of tag on public roads, or simply cruising, often in very large numbers, against local ordinances.


Historian Jeremy Packer wrote that the newest motorcycle "gangs" are unlike the outlaw motorcycle clubs widely reported in the media since the late 1940s.[2] They now ride sport bikes, often customized in the streetfighter style,[3] rather than cruisers, passing through both rural and urban areas, playing "elaborate games of tag and follow the leader, continually pushing each other to ride harder."[2] Besides being younger and favoring high-performance motorcycles, these groups are "loosely affiliated and come together mostly to ride."[2] Traditional outlaw motorcycle clubs are known for having detailed charters and membership lists, prescribing codes of behavior, dress, type and brand of motorcycle members may ride, and vigorously enforcing procedures for admitting new members, banishing members who break club rules, and protecting the club's territory and name from anyone falsely pretending to be a member.[4][5]

Packer wrote in 2008 that media attention, such as the popular A&E television documentary The Wild Ride of the Outlaw Bikers (1999)[6] and the Guggenheim show The Art of the Motorcycle, erroneously only covered the baby boomer Harley-Davidson rider culture, failing to note a shift in demographics, bikes, and behavior.[2] Packer said this promotes the Harley-Davidson brand and promotes "a type of motorcycle affiliation that is palatable, family friendly, and marketable" as part of a narrative that outlaw bikers, "though once a dangerous element, are now a useful and even valuable part of society."[2] The StarPhoenix of Saskatoon wrote that the new marketing push to "transform motorcycling into an acceptable, mainstream pastime" has led to young riders rebelling.[3]

In Los Angeles and New York City, some affluent urban motorcycle owners are self-described hooligans,[7] or display motorcycles described as "hooligan chic"[8] and an "object of fetish consumerism."[9]


Hooligans engage in many types of unlawful behavior.

Vandalism, theft and petty crime[edit]

Park lawn damaged by motorcycle hooligans in Victoria, BC. 2007.

In Southeast Asia, thieves use motorcyclists in the act of purse snatching.[10][11]

Racing on public roads[edit]

Street racing in Mexico, 2008.

Racing has been implicated in a number of deaths, and is targeted by law enforcement in North America, Asia and Europe.[12][13][14]

Stunting on public roads[edit]

The fact that many stunters perform their stunts on public roads draws the ire of other motorcyclists and lawmakers.[15] They intentionally draw a lot of attention to their apparently reckless behavior, and other motorcyclists, especially sportbike riders, feel that stunters give all riders a reputation for being irresponsible and dangerous to others.

Riding nude[edit]

While clothing-optional bicycling is allowed in many places, similar behavior by motorcyclists is often seen as reckless[citation needed] and has even led to accidents when the rider was stung by an insect.[18][19]

Nude rider complaints are recorded in Coventry, England, where 21 riders proceeded naked through the town;[20] Salt Lake City;[21] Murfreesboro, Tennessee (claimed to be the first nude motorcycle rally);[22] Providence, Rhode Island;[23] and southern Sweden.[24]


In some jurisdictions, the act of cruising is unlawful.[25]

In Malaysia, over 100,000 outlaw motorcyclists called Mat Rempit are reported to cruise and race on the streets every night.[26]

Unlicensed riding[edit]

Riders, including under-age youth, without a valid driver's license, have been described as "dangerous and illegal"[27] and "hooligans."[28]

Street stunt riders on unlicensed dirtbikes are reported to be a problem in Baltimore, Maryland.[29]


Speeding is often referred to as a "hooligan" activity due to inherent risk to the public.[30]

"Hooligan" motorcycles[edit]

Some types of motorcycles or specific models associated with hooligan behavior are informally referred to as "hooligan" motorcycles.[31]

Notable examples[edit]

In Seattle in 2010, a Washington State Patrol highway police trooper rolled his patrol car while chasing speeding motorcyclists, who then returned to jeer and taunt him. The motorcyclists said they were engaging in a semi-organized mass ride.[32] The event attracted much media attention.[33][34][35]

In September 2013, public awareness of motorcycle hooliganism in America was increased when a video was uploaded to live leak showing a violent altercation between a family riding in an SUV and a group of motorcyclists in New York City.[36] The bikers were participating in an annual unsanctioned rally called the "Hollywood Block Party". Over 1000 motorcycles, quads, and other vehicles participated in the 2012 rally a year prior, according to New York Police Commissioner Ray Kelly. The rally involved performing stunts and driving through Times Square, which has been illegal since it was pedestrianized in 2009.[37]

The incident began when a sport utility vehicle (SUV) driven by motorist Alexian Lien was involved in light bumper contact with motorcyclist Christopher Cruz. Cruz reportedly sustained minor injuries. In the video, Cruz merges in front of Lien and slows dramatically, apparently causing the collision. Following the incident, authorities familiar with such organized rides stated that Cruz was not attempting to cause a collision, but was attempting to slow traffic in order to clear a section of roadway to perform stunts on their motorcycles.[38]

Lien and many of the motorcyclists stopped their vehicles. The video shows many of the bikers gathering around the Range Rover driven by Lien. Police reported that the bikers were beating on the vehicle and punctured a tire. Lien accelerated to escape, reportedly driving over 3 motorcycles and a rider, named Edwin Mieses, who had dismounted and was in front of the Range Rover. Mieses was severely injured, including a fractured spine and punctured lung. The bikers then chased after the SUV for several miles before pulling Lien from the vehicle and assaulting him.[39][40]

The video of the incident quickly went viral and received widespread news coverage.[36] Other videos of packs of bikers driving recklessly and performing stunts surfaced following the heavy news coverage. One video in particular shows a group of bikers threatening the driver of a Prius. The bikers beat on the window of his car, but the driver was unharmed.[41]

A total of 15 people were arrested, 55 motorcycles were confiscated, and 69 summonses were issued in connection with the September 29th event. Nine suspects have been charged in connection with the attack.[42][43] In December 2013, Lien filed a civil suit against the city of New York for the involvement of an off-duty police detective in the attack. The suit accused the police department of failing to properly train their officers.[44]

Legislation has since been proposed that would require permits and prior notification of such rallies. The legislation was inspired by the September 29 incident as well as the death of Marian Kurshik, 78, in December 2013 after being struck by a motorcycle traveling in a pack and performing stunts. The driver of the motorcycle was also killed in the accident. "His feet was on the seat; the front wheel pulled up. He was going very fast," said a bystander. "This not only, I think, protects pedestrians. I think it also protects the motorcyclists themselves," said state senator Andriano Espaillat.[45]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "hooligan, n", The Oxford English Dictionary (2nd ed.), OED Online; Oxford University Press, 1989, retrieved 2009-07-12, hooligan A young street rough, a member of a street gang. Also attrib. and transf.; spec. Hooligan Navy U.S. Naut. slang, the U.S. Coast Guard Service. [...] hooliganism, the characteristic behaviour of hooligans, rough horseplay;
  2. ^ a b c d e Packer (2008) pp 153-154
  3. ^ a b "2007 Buell Super TT motorcycle: Happy times for hooligans", Saskatoon StarPhoenix, June 8, 2007
  4. ^ Adler, Jeff (2001-03-03), "The Fall of a Hells Angel Leader; Indictment Alleges Spokesman's Charity Masks Drug Ring.", The Washington Post, Washington, D.C., p. A.07
  5. ^ Barker, Tom (September 2005), "One Percent Biker Clubs -- A Description", Trends in Organized Crime, Springer New York, 9 (1), p. 111, doi:10.1007/s12117-005-1005-0, ISSN 1084-4791
  6. ^
  7. ^ Randy Kennedy (July 12, 1998), "Engines Roaring, Pagers Beeping; Middle Class Leads a Renewed Romance With Biker Culture", The New York Times
  8. ^ "Hooligan Chic", Forbes, December 28, 2007
  9. ^ Packer (2008) p. 154
  10. ^ MANOP THIP-OSOT (10 October 2004), "Hooligan bikers running amok", Bangkok Post – via Financial Times Asia Africa Intelligence Wire, Motorcycle gang racers are turning to hooliganism to get attention, and police say parents are to blame.
    Young men racing up and down streets chase women and snatch their purses, police say. Police themselves have become targets, with bike riders hurling stones at them.
  11. ^ "Plan for motorcycle-free zones in parts of KL", Malaysia Star, Jan 9, 2004, The Government may turn certain parts of Kuala Lumpur into motorcycle-free zones to curb illegal racing and snatch thefts.
  12. ^ "Guilty in CHP Motorcycle Officer's Death Courts: Illegal immigrant", Los Angeles Times, July 3, 1993, ... was in uniform and riding his CHP motorcycle to work at about 4:20 a.m. ... Chaparro, who is an illegal immigrant from Mexico, also faces deportation.
  13. ^ Caitlin Cleary (Dec 24, 2001), "Rider killed as motorcycle slams into car at illegal rally in Renton 19-year-old dies on street often used for drag-racing.", The Seattle Times, p. A1
  14. ^ "Vietnam revs up battle against illegal racers", New Straits Times, Jan 5, 1998, Illegal motorcycle racing has now been officially branded as a "social evil" along with prostitution, pornography and drug abuse by Nhan Dan, the mouthpiece ...
  15. ^ Lawmakers target public stunts, American Motorcyclist Association
  16. ^ Greg Walsh, "Us and Them - Motorcycle Stunting Future & Lifestyle", Super Streetbike, retrieved March, 2007
  17. ^ Tim Kreitz (moto-journalist & Motorcycle Safety Foundation instructor) (July 20, 2004), "Street stunters: Motorcycling's great scourge", The Superbike Blog, retrieved 2013-10-08
  18. ^ "Nude biker on BeeMW", The Daily Mirror via ProQuest, London (UK), p. 11, June 3, 2003, ProQuest 339092101, A NAKED motorcyclist wearing just a scarf, sunglasses and a pair of sandals crashed his BMW bike after he was stung on the inner thigh by a bee.
  19. ^ "People of the week", Daily Times, June 9, 2003, Road safety tip of the week: Police have charged a naked motorcyclist who crashed into a tree after a bee stung him in the leg. The 36-year-old nudist — wearing only a scarf, sunglasses and sandals — was driving to a swimming pool at a German naturist resort when he lost control. He escaped with only minor injuries and has been charged with failing to wear a crash helmet.
  20. ^ Stephen Geffon (2009-06-18), Residents complain of noise and nudity, "The scene was reminiscent of Lady Godiva riding naked through the streets of Coventry, England as 21 motorcycle riders jetted down Silver Road in Ozone Park wearing nothing but smiles.[permanent dead link]
  21. ^ Naked motorcycle rider
  22. ^ "NUDE MOTORCYCLISTS HOLD FIRST RALLY IN MURFREESBORO", The Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn, p. B.2, July 28, 2003, ProQuest 394035281, While the bikers also love to swap cycle stories, Rock Haven owner George Volak's still beats 'em all, the bikers admitted. "Michael 'Shine' Brannon set up a booth to sell jackets, helmets and other gear at the rally. He was a bit apprehensive about selling clothing to nudists until someone pointed out that they weren't nude all the time. Shine sported a pair of cut-off jeans that would have gotten Daisy Duke arrested. They were literally all pockets. It was his first time at a nudist camp.
  23. ^ ARIEL SABAR (May 21, 1996), "Nude motorcyclist hurt in crash with pickup", Providence Journal, Providence, R.I., p. D.06, ProQuest 397103252, A naked man riding a Harley Davidson motorcycle was injured Saturday when he collided head-on with a pickup truck driven by a friend, police said. When police arrived at the accident scene at about 2:20 that morning, Steven M. Medeiros of 66 Kent Ave. was standing in the middle of Wannamoisett Road wearing nothing but combat boots, police said.
  24. ^ Nude biker spotted in Sweden, UPI, May 4, 2007, Swedish police say a nude man spotted riding a motorcycle in the southern part of the country may not have been breaking any laws.
  25. ^ Ronald W. Glensor & Kenneth J. Peak (2004), "Cruising", Problem-Specific Guides, Center for Problem-Oriented Policing at SUNY Albany, Guide No.29CS1 maint: uses authors parameter (link)
  26. ^ Baradan Kuppusamyin (August 29, 2006), "Malaysian PM attempts to make allies of motorcycle 'hell riders'", South China Morning Post, Malaysian police estimate that 150,000 hell riders or mat rempit cruise the streets of the capital and major cities every night. They race for money or pleasure - and cause accidents, death and mayhem along the way.
  27. ^ "Kids driving dangerous, illegal; Children operating motorcycles", Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Mar 24, 2003, Authorities say allowing youngsters to drive motorcycles, mopeds and all-terrain vehicles on public roadways is not only dangerous -- it is illegal.
  28. ^ Rebecca Bavister (July 7, 2009), "Police news", Bombala Times, Bombala, New South Wales, [A]n 18 year old man and a 16 year old youth were caught by Police riding their unregistered and uninsured trail bikes along Maybe Street...Over the last couple of months these two hooligans have flouted the law on an almost daily basis...
  29. ^ "The 12 O'Clock Boys", The New York Times, December 3, 2013
  30. ^ Police film of 'hooligan' bikers, BBC News, 19 October 2006, North Wales Police's chief constable has posted a video of "hooligan" bikers on his web diary to highlight the problem of speeding.
  31. ^ David Booth (June 8, 2007), "2007 Buell Super TT motorcycle: Happy times for hooligans", Saskatoon StarPhoenix, CanWest News Service, It all works much better when the road gets twisty. In fact, the twistier the better. In high-speed sweepers -- i.e., the kind of corners where Ducatis excel -- the Super TT remains a little twitchy. It's one of the few modern bikes I wish had a steering damper.
  32. ^ Christine Clarridge (August 12, 2010), "Witness disputes trooper's version of crash with bikers — An eyewitness to the crash that left a state trooper in a ditch on Tuesday night is disputing the trooper's claim that the accident was caused by two motorcycles that cut him off.", The Seattle Times, retrieved 2013-10-08
  33. ^ Kang, Martha (10 August 2010), Speeding motorcyclist taunts state trooper trapped in crashed car, KOMO TV via Seattle Post-Intelligencer, retrieved 2013-10-07
  34. ^ Clark, Stephanie A., "King County: Bikers return to taunt trooper from Spanaway trapped after serious crash", The Bellingham Herald, retrieved 2010-08-11[permanent dead link]
  35. ^ de Leon, John (11 August 2010), "State Patrol: Injured trooper taunted by motorcyclists", Seattle Times, retrieved 2010-08-11
  36. ^ a b Curry, Colleen (September 30, 2013). "Motorcyclists Pull Driver from Car in NYC, Beat Him After Collision". ABC News.
  37. ^ Davies, Alex (October 2, 2013). "Transportation More: New York City Motorcycles New York Police Department Old Videos Show That Motorcycle Rallies In NYC Are Totally Nuts". Business Insider.
  38. ^ Goodman, David (October 1, 2013). "2 Bikers Are Charged; Investigation Continues". New York Times.
  39. ^ "Bikers assault banker in New York highway clash". South China Morning Post. October 3, 2013.
  40. ^ "Motorcyclists Chase, Attack SUV driver in New York". ABC News. 2013-09-30.
  41. ^ "Video from 2011 Shows NYC Bikers Attacking Toyota Prius, Plus Latest Developments". Car Scoops. October 1, 2013.
  42. ^ "9th Suspect Charged In Manhattan Motorcycle-SUV Melee". CBS New York. October 23, 2013.
  43. ^ Tcholakian, Danielle (October 2, 2013). "Biker gang assault: Who's the man behind Hollywood Stuntz?". Metro. Archived from the original on February 27, 2014. Retrieved February 24, 2014.
  44. ^ "Alexian Lien, Man Attacked By Motorcyclists, Files Legal Claim Against New York City". Huffington Post. 2014-01-18.
  45. ^ "State Bill Seeks To Prevent Another Biker Melee". CBS New York. December 23, 2013.


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