Biker Attack on SUV Was Inevitable, Uptown and Bronx Residents Say

By Jeff Mays on October 3, 2013 7:06am 

Bikers Clash With SUV Driver
View Full Caption
YouTube/Daphne Avalon

HARLEM — The beating of an SUV driver in front of his family by a group of motorcycle riders after a high-speed highway chase Sunday has residents of Upper Manhattan and The Bronx saying "I told you so."

Residents from Harlem, The Bronx and Washington Heights and Inwood have long called the packs of motorcycles and illegal dirt bikes a nuisance with the potential to turn violent.

"This is something that we feared and now that it has happened, the city has to step up and go after these bikers," said Rafael Salamanca, Jr., district manager of Community Board 2 in the Bronx.

"They are putting too many people's lives at risk for their entertainment and they don't care."

Kimberly Watkins, a Harlem resident and fitness instructor, said she has been trying for years to be heard on the issue, to no avail.

"So many people have tried to prevent this," she said.

"Instead, we've just been given the runaround and told to go to community board meetings."

In northern Manhattan and The Bronx, residents and motorists have long complained about packs of dirt bikes and motorcyclists who run red lights, perform stunts, ride on the sidewalk and bully motorists and pedestrians.

In Harlem, pedestrians have been hurt by the vehicles. In the Bronx last year, Eddie Fernandez was killed when the dirt bike he was riding was rear-ended by police during a chase.

"When I walk with my son in his stroller, and I hear them coming, I completely stop because I don't know if a biker is going to ride on the sidewalk, or simply lose control while pulling a stunt," said Harlem parent and author Stacy Parker Le Melle.

Police have said they don't chase dirt bike and motorcycle riders because it encourages reckless riding that endangers the public. Instead, they have taken to raiding the locations where the bikes are kept. Some riders say police have even begun using netting to ensnare riders.

Dirt bikes and ATV's are illegal on city streets because they lack required safety parts such as lights and turn signals. Drivers of the vehicles are subject to arrest. Illegally modified and unregistered motorcycles are also of concern.

Law enforcement officials monitoring social media heard about Sunday's ride, which was organized by HollywoodStuntz over social media such as Instagram and Twitter, and disrupted it by having checkpoints at the city's bridges and at staging areas.

Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly said 55 motorcycles were confiscated and 68 summonses were issued.

That didn't prevent the incident where police say Alexian Lien, 33, who was riding with his wife and their 2-year-old daughter in a black Range Rover, rear-ended one of about two dozen motorcycles on the Henry Hudson Parkway at about 2 p.m. near 125th Street.

The motorcyclists became enraged and swarmed the car. Lien stopped before speeding off and rolling over three motorcycles in the process.

The motorcycle riders gave chase. After Lien exited the highway at 178th Street near St. Nicholas Avenue, motorcyclists began bashing the SUV's windows. Lien was pulled from the vehicle and slashed in the face and beaten while his family watched.

One biker, Edwin Mieses, has been hospitalized with two broken legs and family members fear he may be paralyzed.

Two of the bikers involved in the incident have been arrested. Allen Edwards, 42, of Jamaica, Queens was arrested Tuesday for reckless endangerment and criminal mischief but the Manhattan District Attorney's Office says he will not be immediately prosecuted while the investigation continues.

The Manhattan DA criticized the NYPD for charging Edwards before the investigation was complete.

Christopher Cruz, whose motorcycle was rear-ended by the SUV when Cruz tried to slow traffic, is facing charges of unlawful imprisonment in the second degree and reckless driving. He is free on $1,500 bail.

A Harlem motorcycle rider who asked that his street name of "Al Capone" be used, said he appealed to police brass in Harlem the week before Sunday's ride for a police escort for the riders to prevent the type of incident that occurred.

"If it had been a permitted ride it would have been organized, it would have been a procession, it would have been different," he said.

Capone and Benjamin "Benmore" Charles, also a co-founder of Bikelife, said the incident makes the need for some sort of bike park even more clear.

But that goal seems further off than ever.

On Wednesday, Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. called for a new city law that would heavily fine gas stations that allow illegal dirt bikes and ATVs to fill up their tanks "to shut off the fuel that drives the recklessness that has taken control of our streets,” Diaz said in a statement.

Salamanca said a bike park could be a long-term solution but steps need to be taken now to protect public safety.

"The people of New York City and my district are looking for an immediate answer to this issue," he said. "What happened this weekend was totally unacceptable."

Advertisement

Advertisement

Advertisement