Life on bikes

Rolling with #BikeLife can land you two years in prison

One of the first concerted efforts by police to clamp down on the #BikeLife movement has seen 13 men given prison sentences of up to two years each.

The men, all aged between 22 and 29, we’re part of a 100-strong ride of bikes and quads through busy Leeds streets on Halloween 2016. Many of the streets were pedestrianised and the incident led to Leeds City Council securing an injunction banning people from ‘anti-social driving of vehicles, including motorbikes and quad bikes, in any public place where it involves two or more vehicles’.

Most of the riders received 12-14 months, but the organiser, David Armitage, received 24 months jail time. He was seen on video calling for the city centre to be ’shut down’.

BikeLife Halloween prison sentences bikes confiscated
Bikes seized by police after the rideout

A number of bikes have been confiscated by West Yorkshire Police following the incident, who used CCTV and footage from the public to track down the riders involved.

When fun becomes a menace

The prison terms come at a time when BikeLife rideouts have become increasingly dangerous for the public.

London saw the first Halloween rideout in 2014, but 2015 saw the first ‘rampage’ version of the rides, with up to 200 bikes steaming through congested streets including the King’s Road, which saw an ambulance on an emergency call blocked by dozens of bikes.

BikeFile Haloween rideout in London 2015

In footage on YouTube, not only do BikeLife riders actively block the ambulance, others take to busy pavements to race around it, with no regard for public safety.

Last year, 2016 saw the raids spread out from the Capital, with Birmingham’s city centre also taken over, as well as Leeds’. Police hope the stiff prison sentences will deter rides from being organised this year.

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Our thoughts

We’ve nothing against BikeLife per se. We’ve been there, messing about on strokers in fields and derelict airfields. You can always find a quiet industrial estate with a bit of shenanigans happening somewhere.

Police footage of the Leeds rideout

But these are public roads. Busy ones. Full of innocent people who could be killed. All it takes is one out-of-control wheelie near a pavement and a toddler could be killed.

The Kings Road steam, where an ambulance was halted, should make every decent biker, totally law abiding or not, feel ashamed to be tainted by this behaviour – because that’s all the rest of the public sees: bikers.

What if there was someone inside the ambulance who needed urgent life-support. Perhaps it was a time-sensitive transfer between hospitals? Who knows? The point is when you see an ambulance you make way for it, not least because it could be you inside it one day.

The BikeLife riders did nothing to get out of its way, instead putting themselves first. It was completely juvenile behaviour you would expect from a 10-year old, not someone twice or even, it seems, nearly three times that age.

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It is the immaturity that makes the Leeds incident so dispiriting. You kind of expect it from pre-licence teenagers who need to prove to the world they have grown pubic hair. At that age, you can’t think beyond your own genitals. But once you are in your 20’s you are meant to be maturing. For all we know, the guys arrested may already be parents themselves – if any of them read this and do have kids, take this on board: It could be your kid that gets its pushchair trapped between a front wheel and scalding engine because some dickhead thought it would be cool to pop a 45 down the pavement.

If you are reading this and you are in your twenties and you still think the rides are cool, everyone else is looking at you and thinking, ‘FFS, grow up’. If I had been told that at my age, I’d have been embarrassed. You should be too.

Grow up, keep it off the streets. Or get taken off them for a couple of years.

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