One Video Encapsulates Everything Wrong With NYC Street Culture


Two banes of New York City streets — aggressive dirt bikers using the road as a personal racetrack, and SUV drivers using their vehicles as weapons — collide in this horrific video making the rounds today.

Yesterday at about 1:30 p.m., Alexian Lien, 33, was driving a Range Rover north on the West Side Highway near 125th Street with his wife and 5-month old daughter as passengers, according to reports in the Post and Daily News. About 20 seconds into the video, group of motorcycle and dirt bike riders surround the SUV in the center lane, and a motorbike rider appears to hit the brakes and get into a fender-bender with Lien’s vehicle.

Lien and the group of motorbike riders around him came to a stop. Surrounded, Lien then hit the accelerator (at about 50 seconds into the video), running over at least three motorcycles and striking one man, breaking his leg, according to NYPD. The video shows the group of motorbike riders chasing Lien, exiting the highway at 178th Street in Washington Heights. When Lien reaches traffic stopped at a red light at Wadsworth Avenue (after the six-minute mark), the motorbike riders dismount, and one man uses his helmet to smash Lien’s window.

The video cuts off at this point, but police say the men beat up Lien, who went to Columbia University Medical Center, where he received stitches and was released. The Daily News reports that NYPD has not made any arrests, but is still investigating.

  • New York City freeways are straight out of the Matrix…

    Trinity: You always told me to stay off the freeway.
    Morpheus: Yes, that’s true.
    Trinity: You said it was suicide.

  • Guestnyc

    Why was this driver targeted? These bikers don’t target random people. The most important part is missing. The vehicle was surrounded in the very beginning of the video. Something must have occurred prior.

  • Larry Littlefield

    You need to get out on the highway in a low status car, like our Saturn Wagon, and ride down the center of three lanes while obeying the speed limit, as my newbie driver daughters do, at say 10 pm on a weekday. And have others in the vehicle surreptitiously take video of the resulting driving around you. Straight out of matrix indeed!

    Due to scheduling, my younger daughter had to take here driver’s test out in Wantagh. I had her drive most of the way, on the Belt, for a little more practice. We were lucky to get there alive.

  • Anonymous

    I have to say that the SUV driver was in the right here. The bikers surrounded him, intentionally braked right in front of him, and then got all mad and started acting scary. The guy was with his wife and kid, and he got scared and used his SUV as a weapon, which is perfectly appropriate when people are surrounding the vehicle acting threatening. The bikers should go to jail, the driver should walk.

  • vnm

    It’s probably a finer point, but to me these are not the dirt bikers who run roughshod over neighborhoods on unregistered, non-street-legal bikes with horrible one-stroke engines, no helmets, and wheelies galore. These guys are riding “crotch rockets” – sport bikes that qualify as bona fide motorcycles that are actually registered to the DMV and (theoretically) inspected once a year. Not that it matters . . . This situation is still crazy either way.

  • vnm

    I’m not convinced it’s completely clear-cut. Something had to have happened to get their ire up first. Judging by the SUV driver’s tendency to get scared and floor it (even through people!) and based on the DNAInfo story, he could have got in a fender bender with a biker before the video starts, and instead of talking through what to do next, floored it and tried to escape. That would anger anybody. My bottom line: NO ONE comes out looking good here.

  • BBnet3000

    It certainly looked like they crowded him out of his lane and the the brake-checking started when he beeped. If theres anything before the video, obviously this interpretation would change.

  • John Wilson

    Its hard to tell from just that video

  • Anonymous

    It is an annual event called the Hollywood Block Party, video from past years on youtube.

  • Anonymous

    I wouldn’t care about this in the slightest if they contained it to the highway. Unfortunately these people don’t look any crazier than your average driver in pedestrian/cyclist/humanoid-dense Downtown Brooklyn.

  • It’s hard to tell what really happened on the freeway, but I do know that when I would drive a car and a ton of motorcyclists would surround me, it freaked me out, because they’re so unpredictable.

  • Anonymous

    No matter what occurred prior, if something did occur, the bikers were acting in anger instead of self defense. When the driver ran over the bikers however, he feared for the safety of himself and his family. That makes it fairly unambiguous to me.

  • KillMoto

    Just like those drivers who plow through Critical Mass rides.

  • Anonymous

    Supposedly he cut someone off or bumped someone or didn’t give enough space or something. I mean whatever, you know what it’s like to be on the West Side Highway and surrounded by those guys. If Range Rover driver did something wrong, then the aggrieved parties should call the cops! Purposefully stopping the WSH is not going to help matters.

  • MM06840
  • Yep. With a dash of Mad Max, if Mad Max was about the terror that comes from too much cheap gas.

    Forgetting the finer points of who “started it,” the SUV driver or the motorcyclists, where the hell was the NYPD? A Critical Mass ride with 10 bicyclists will attract two dozen cops, but dozens and dozens if not hundreds of motorcycles commandeering the West Side Highway? Not a squad car in sight. I highly doubt this ride had just started a few moments before this video begins. Chances are they had been tearing through the city for quite some time.

  • Anonymous

    What I find most revealing is that the biker/videographer thought that this video would help their cause (and hence published it). Yes, the SUV driver ran over the motorcycle while escaping (and if an investigation determines criminal wrong-doing, then charge him too) which is why I presume they posted this

    But Jesus! They look straight out of Mad Max hounding that guy with his family.
    Also, I was on the Hudson River Greenway when these guys passed Canal Street. There had to be at least 200 of them. I’ve never seen so many motorbikes (and Quads too?) in my life. I was on the phone with my fiance and I was like wow . . . that’s got to be so intimidating to be on the road with those guys.

    And then I sit back and laugh and think about the police presence we have at Critical Mass rides.

  • Anonymous

    I saw them down by Canal Street heading north. Easily 200 of them. They were heading up from Battery Park which had a huge police presence (and lane closures) because of the tunnel to towers run.

    But the cops weren’t riding with the bikes.

  • Anonymous

    No criminality suspected.

  • This happens in my neighborhood on many weekends. Dozens of motorcyclists race up and down 3rd and 4th Avenues, speed, run lights, weave in and out of traffic, ride on sidewalks, or even just sit around revving their engines all night. Residents call the local precinct, but nothing ever gets done. And numerous 311 reports are closed with the report saying the NYPD saw nothing that warranted further action.

  • Guestnyc

    Both parties were in the wrong.

    -The driver should have slowed down and let them pass. Obviously they are going to do what they want on the road, the NYPD does not have the manpower available on the fly to handle those kind of numbers.

    -If he did accidentally bump the motorcyclist, he should have slowed down and yelled to the nearest bikers, if pursuing, that he has a child on board and that he did not intend to strike their friend, an apology. Words can often get you a long way.

    -Running over the bikers was idiotic. He only escalated the situation significantly and is lucky to be alive. Did he expect to outrun so many bikes in a Range Rover in NYC? What did he expect when they finally caught him?

    -At the same time the motorcyclist were wrong to ride recklessly period.

    -Finally, the beating/slashing was over the top. However, I guarantee you it would not have occurred if the driver did not run over a number of them.

  • Guestnyc

    How do you know the SUV driver was in the right? I see these bikers all the time and for a biker to purposely brake check an SUV like that, something must have occurred prior to the filming. They were already surrounding him as the footage began. There is more to this story.

  • Anonymous

    Obviously anytime you purposefully/knowingly strike motorcycles and/or people, then something’s gone wrong. Based on the undisputed facts, I’m not really in a position to criticize the SUV driver. If he legitimately feared for his life, and if that fear is reasonable, then he’d be justified in his actions.

    But I think you’re presuming a lot re: how he should’ve acted with the other bikers after he bumped/was slowed down by that biker giving him a brake check.

    I, for one, would be absolutely scared to death, in that situation. They’re not the police. They have absolutely no right to stop traffic like that! Right there, you have the bikers going in vigilante mode. Heck, I’d be scared to even open my window.

  • Guestnyc

    The reason why I suspect more to this video is the way it opens up. He was obviously surrounded as it opened. It is a possibility that the bikers were trying to slow traffic in order to speed up ahead and perform stunts. The other possibility was they had some other sort of altercation prior, maybe a minor clip or were cut off.

    If the former, the driver should have slowed down enough to give some distance. He probably thought he could still push his way through (as many SUV drivers think) but became swarmed. When the biker in front attempted to slow him down, he was so close he could not react in time, causing a collision.

    If the latter, he should have yelled out his window an apology and that his SUV contains a family. It sounds silly, but it has a lot more potential for a safe result than running over a bunch of bikers.

    He is lucky to be alive. I would never attempt to run over a bunch of bikers. Obviously they are faster and can cut through traffic. An SUV will get stuck at some point, especially here in NYC.

  • Joe R.

    Same here. If they all killed each other in a massive pileup on the highway it wouldn’t matter to me. Once the craziness ended up on local streets you easily could have hurt or killed innocent bystanders.

  • Larry Littlefield

    Make that 10 am on a weekday, for even more terror.

  • Guestnyc

    After reviewing the video again, it does seem the bikers were trying to halt traffic. The speed at which it happens places the biker at fault, he downshifted pretty quickly and they surrounded him just as fast. Very little time to react from this POV.

    Still he should have handled it with words, the driver definitely escalated the situation by running over the other bikers. I would rather take my chances talking it out, then running over a bunch of bikers, only to be pursued by many more when I know there is no escape.

  • Joe R.

    The police probably stay out of it for their own safety. A lot of these bikers are armed. The SUV driver is actually lucky he’s not in the morgue.

  • Anonymous

    I saw a huge group of motorcyclists running up and down Amsterdam Avenue in the West 70s a few months ago. They operated with impunity — no NYPD presence at all. No stopping at red lights. Very loud engines. It was surreal.

  • Guestnyc

    Fool (driver) should have slowed down. Not saying the bikers were right, but come on, how dumb can you be. Situation could have been avoided.

  • Clarence

    A few things.

    First, there seems to be at least 50 motorcyclists in some of these shots. So, I ask, have they gotten a parade permit that is required of cyclists and pedestrians?

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/17/nyregion/17bike.html?_r=0

    Secondly. I saw a comment in another string on a website that reports that the NYPD has a do not engage policy when it comes to these throngs of motorcyclists. Not sure what that is supposed to mean, but if it is true, then why is there such a double standard when it comes to bikes?

    Finally, while riding I have been surrounded by around a dozen or so of these hot shots from time to time. It can be pretty scary when they are doing wheelies near you and gunning their bikes.

  • Guestnyc

    In the end, I blame the bikers for initiating by recklessly riding. But I do also blame the SUV driver for escalating the situation.

  • Guestnyc

    Slow down and let pass.

    As for enforcement, there are just too many. The NYPD doesn’t have the manpower or ability, nor do they want to risk a situation that will put others at risk.

  • Andres Dee

    Being swarmed after a crash is not a reasonable situation and there can’t be a single rule of what “reasonable” behavior is on the part of the driver. He could well have been killed. No matter what took place “before”, if you stop after a crash and it looks like you are going to be physically attacked, you are right to get the heck out (and it no longer matters if you happen to knock someone down in your escape.)

    At what point do the motorcyclists do a press conference with the “former head of the outlaw bikers association” (whose other line of business is a string of check cashing joints, etc.) and blame it all on some bicycle messenger?

  • Kurt55

    Too bad the driver didn’t have a gun. It would have been justifiable homicide for killing some of those biker fags because they were clearly threatening him.

  • Driver

    There is plenty wrong with NYC street culture, but this video does not “encapsulate” it. There is nothing typical about this scene. The motorcyclists represent thug culture more than street culture, and this guy just happened to get caught in the middle of it and was probably scared shitless, and rightfully so. I saw an incarnation of this group riding through Brooklyn yesterday, and you wouldn’t want to get into a situation with any two of these riders let alone two hundred.

  • Anonymous

    Charge the driver. Let the police, DA and a jury figure it out.

  • Jacob Johnson

    guns don’t miraculously solve problems. what if the bikers had guns too? you think a shootout in broad daylight in NYC with his wife and kid in the backseat is a good idea?

  • Jacob Johnson

    so because he should have slowed down, he deserves to get beat up and have his family threatened.

  • Facts Please

    I don’t know what happened before the video, but based only on what I see here, the driver is acting in self defense. He is surrounded, and the initial crash was obviously deliberately caused by the guy on the motorcycle. Additionally, the guys family is in the car.
    At that point, its either himself and his family or them, and the only weapon he has is that car.

    Also, as a side note: This has nothing to do with “street culture.” Its an absolutely extreme situation that’s way past the point where traffic laws or driving behavior are the issue.

  • Reader

    This has everything to do with NYC’s street culture. It’s a culture that’s enabled by the NYPD, which focuses on tinted windows and nuisance tickets against cyclists, but sees hundreds of motorcycles on the HH parkway as the equivalent of a storm cloud – something that could be dangerous but that hopefully will pass.

    EVents like this are extreme, but they are the inevitable outcome of NYC’s “anything goes” attitude toward street safety.

  • Anonymous

    I saw a gang of bikers, don’t know if it was this one or a different one on the Conduit North (next to Belt Pkwy) the last time I went from JFK. There were about a 100 of them on bikes and ATVs. They were weaving in and out of traffic between cars, randomly stopping, running red lights, going the wrong way on the road, etc. Not a cop anywhere in sight. I would not be surprised if they do get hit by other cars once in a while with the way they’re behaving.

  • Driver

    It’s more like the outcome of the “if you chase them and any body gets hit in the process all fingers will be pointed at you” mentality. Most of these guys are simply going to run from the cops, and any attempt to chase them will involve risk to all the parties involved as well as innocent bystanders. It’s a lose/lose situation for the NYPD.

  • Driver

    Not everyone is street smart. Especially in Manhattan.

  • Anonymous

    The sense of entitlement of the noise makers in every day life is quite high. They are offensive to everyone around them and give a bad name to responsible motorcyclists.

    Its tragic that men have so few options to express their masculinity in an appropriate way in our modern world. Spectator sports, guns, drinking, muscle cars and on and on. What a sorry lot. A real man takes responsibility for his world and community. If you can’t or don’t want to do that, then shut the fuck up and stop intruding on others space.

  • The guy on the bike took the video. Meaning if the SUV driver did anything wrong previous, you can damn well bet it would be included. The fact that its not means helps the SUVs drivers case

  • David

    Didn’t watch the video but wouldn’t you call the cops once you were circled on the WSH. Then drive your way out if they start to attack the vehicle

  • Kurt55

    It would be to defend oneself against lawless hooligans like those bikers.

  • oed

    Just say the bikers were part of occupy Wall Street and they would have had immediate shutdown and 2000 cops on the scene.

  • oed

    Maybe Occupy wall street should get some dirt bikes so then can whatever they want too! I’ve seen these assholes revving around. Best advice carry some heavy chains in the car or a few boat anchors with chain to toss at them.

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