When I sat down to write this editorial, I started off trying to formulate an apology that would explain the all but complete lack of any activity on this site for almost a year; but my first draft sounded like such a bleedin’ heart bad luck story, it was depressing me writing it, so I couldn’t imagine how you’d feel if you had to read it.
So if you’ll take my struggles with infections, leg ulcers and crashing web sites as a given, I’ll cut to the issue that motivated me to breath a little life into the embers of The Rider’s Digest on this first day of December.
Last weekend I shared a link on our Facebook wall from the (London) Evening Standard, which highlighted “Scotland Yard’s new hardline war on London’s violent moped gangs”. It said “specially trained ‘Skorpion’ drivers” have been “ramming fleeing moped thugs” and they claimed that – along with “scrambler bikes, DNA sprays and stinger devices” – they had contributed to a 44% reduction in ‘moped’ crime (12,419 moped-related offences from January to October, compared with 19,455 in the same period last year).
My comment above the link said, “A news report that will provide some satisfaction for the many riders who have been complaining about the lack of police action.” The ‘Likes’ and comments started rolling in, but when I checked in at the end of the day I was truly taken aback by the level of venom and violence in the comments.
Before I go any further I think I should admit up front that I posted the link after watching the video but without really reading the article properly (well it did seem to be largely the sort of tabloid nonsense I’d come to expect from the Standard as a life-long Londoner) and I had assumed that they were lumping stolen bikes and stunting riders, in with the ‘moped’ mounted armed robbers – which is a perfect example of the old adage “Assume makes an ASS out of U and ME” (So yes, guilty as charged Trevor Baird).
It probably would have been a good idea to have rectified that position before I joined in with the conversation, but I’d been so shocked by the extent and fury of the mob baying for blood that I found myself responding to their comments rather than what the police were actually doing and more importantly why.
Fortunately both Julian Bond and Trevor Baird pointed to an infinitely more informative report on the Bennetts web site, which filled in some of the gaps in my understanding; but it also took a lot of the wind out of my sails. I’ve never been one for trying to defend the indefensible, and the vicious armed robbers that are being targeted by Operation Venice definitely fit fairly and squarely into that category.
Consequently I’ve been struggling to write some sort of commentary on the subject all week; because in the absence of any ‘innocent’ bike thieves or street stunters to plead on behalf of, the twelve year old article I’d dug out to illustrate that nothing changes, while it was still quite prescient in many ways, was a lot more out of date than I’d thought; not least because at that time I described stories of riders being dragged from their machines at traffic lights as apocryphal, whereas YouTube carries any number of videos showing precisely that today.
It’s ironic that ‘Losers’ (the article from issue 106 of The Rider’s Digest) should turn out not to make the point I’d hoped it would today, because if you read it you’ll see that it suffered exactly the same fault the first time around; but that doesn’t mean that it doesn’t have anything to say.
The thing that prompted me to actually finish this editorial this morning and post ‘Losers‘ was the tide of gleeful, bloodthirsty responses to the wonderful news that a couple of individuals – young people – had suffered broken bones as a consequence of being taken out by police officers; because I couldn’t help wondering if I’m the only one who was shocked by the sheer callousness of the mob?
(It’s interesting to see the difference that a scary cover can make; issue 106 was the only free edition of The Rider’s Digest that ever failed to ‘sell out’ and we ended up picking up spare copies from many of our outlets.)