“‘They want to point the finger because we are the easy target. We have no voice. No one speaks for us. Half of them say they we cant even talk to us because they are afraid of being shot.’
Although police espouse a policy of not chasing the riders, Benmore and a fellow dirt bike rider who gave his name as Ace, said they have been pursued by police numerous times.
Ace, 26, said some of the dangerous behavior of dirt bike riders comes from police efforts to capture them.
‘We tell younger kids to stay off the sidewalk,’ he said.
‘We have seen people die on these bikes. We know the risk involved. One mistake and that’s your life.’”
— Benmore is one of many young men riding illegal dirt bikes on the streets of Harlem who revel in experience that comes from riding the small, nimble machines recklessly in front of neighbors and police. (And who put videos of their exploits online.) Jeff Mays interviewed Benmore and other riders, who say their hobby keeps them from participating in more dangerous activies; residents, on the other hand, fear for the safety of the riders and themselves.
I ride a motorcycle in the city nearly every day. The hooligan in me appreciates very well how good it feels to flirt with danger, to flirt with the experience of the outlaw. But I’ve been thinking a lot about how I ride of late–and for one’s own safety, an aggressive riding style seems prudent, especially in Manhattan–and trying to find the balance between personal safety among two-ton traffic that often doesn’t even see you and my constant fear that I’m going to dash around a reckless taxi to get myself out of harm’s way only to cream a pedestrian. What Benmore and his crew do on the streets is inarguably awesome, but only when divorced from the reality that their fun is putting others’ lives at risk.