(John Del Signore) [UPDATE BELOW] The NYPD remains unable or unwilling to crack down on reckless illegal motorcyclists and dirt biker riders who take over city streets to perform stunts and ride up on the sidewalks. It's unclear whether this is because off-duty NYPD officers are participating in the rides or because of the department's pursuit protocol, which "requires that a vehicle pursuit be terminated whenever the risks to uniformed members of the service and the public outweigh the danger to the community..." Whatever the case may be, this was the rowdy scene in Washington Heights yesterday:
The recklessness behavior unfolded in the same neighborhood where bikers dragged an SUV driver out of his car last September and brutally beat him in front of his wife and child, as multiple officers allegedly stood by and did nothing. The witness who uploaded this video yesterday writes:
A motorcycle gang closes Broadway and intimidates the public on January 12, 2014, just two blocks from the police station house, and in the same precinct where last summer, another motorcycle gang chased and savagely attacked a family that refused to submit to their intimidation.
Motorcycle gangs roam freely in upper Manhattan, particularly in Washington Heights, where the local police are unwilling or unable to intervene. The gangs close avenues and highways for long periods of time, setting off fireworks, damaging property (see 1:15), driving on the sidewalks, and attacking anyone who dares defy them.
In this occasion the mayhem went on for about 20~25 minutes, but unfortunately my recorder ran out of space and only captured about two minutes of it. After the recording stopped there was a second crash of a motorcycle, against the white car parked in front of the bus. The gang returned about an hour later for a few more minutes of the same, and then returned a third time around 8:30 PM to set off fireworks and car alarms, for about five minutes.
The police usually show up long after everyone has left, and leave shortly after without making any report, since that helps keep crime statistics low, and there is no possible retribution for their inaction. Bloomberg was mostly uninterested on the less-affluent parts of NYC; hopefully Mayor de Blasio will be more willing to look into what goes on beyond Park Ave.
Sen. Adriano Espaillat, whose district includes Washington Heights, and Assemblywoman Gabriela Rosa have introduced legislation that would make it illegal for bikers to do stunts like wheelies in traffic. Another bill would require groups of 50 or more motorcyclists to obtain a permit from the NYPD.
After viewing the most recent video, Councilmember Ydanis Rodriguez, who represents Washington Heights, issued this statement:
Motorcycles continue to be the scourge of the Northern Manhattan community and have no right to neither harass our drivers nor shut down our streets at any time. I am currently working on legislation that will help to curb this behavior and keep our streets clear of all who would seek to disrupt traffic for a cheap thrill. If motorcycle riders want to be respected they must be respectful of the communities in which they ride. Displays such as yesterday’s serve only to intimidate drivers and pedestrians and create unacceptable levels of noise pollution.
Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Update: An employee at the R.G. Ortiz Funeral home who identified herself only as Anna told us the bikers were assembled outside as part of a memorial service for a club member who recently died. She would not provide the name of the club nor offer any further information about the deceased, but confirmed that the funeral for the club member occurred yesterday.