Concern over motorcycle-only checkpoints

Vicpol police motorcycle cops (Photo courtesy of BMW MCC Victoria member, Chris Renwick) emergency services

Motorcycle-only checkpoints by police and transport department officials are not officially called such in Australia, but they do happen.

We have been caught up in two and have had readers report of other incidents where a vehicle checkpoint discriminates by only pulling over motorcycle riders, letting all other vehicles pass.

It may not be called a “motorcycle-only checkpoint”, but that is what it amounts to and it is social profiling.

While Australian authorities claim they do not officially practise racial profiling, there seems to be no such ban on social profiling.

Born in the USA

Motorcycle-only checkpoints also exist in the United States where the American Motorcyclist Association and Motorcycle Riders Foundation are trying to have the practice outlawed.

According to David “Double D” Devereaux who posted an article for Russ Brown Motorcycle Attorneys, Motorcycle-only checkpoints or “MOCs” have existed in several states since 2007.

An American motorcycle-only checkpoints (Photo: Russ Brown Lawyers)
An American motorcycle-only checkpoint (Russ david lawyers)

He says they were established after a New York officer died in a crash trying to catch a speeding motorcyclist.

NYPD believed the operation was so successful, they proudly preached about it to other law enforcement agencies around the country.

However, Americans hate anything that restricts their freedom, so they fought the law in several states and won.

Last year, 19 states banned MOCs, but the AMA and MRF are still pushing for a federal ban as MOCs still exist in several states.

“Cloaked under the justification of safety, motorcycle-only checkpoints unfairly target motorcyclists and motorcycles as a form of transportation,” David writes.

The AMA says MOCs are “discriminatory, forcing riders and their passengers to do something not asked of other citizens, simply because we choose to travel on two wheels, or three, instead of four”.

The AMA believes the money used for these operations could be better spent supporting programs that conduct rider education, reduce distracted driving and encourage motorist awareness of motorcycles.

AMA Board Chair Maggie McNally-Bradshaw issued this statement:

“The AMA strongly condemns the profiling of motorcyclists by government agencies and has long championed the undeniable fact that the vast majority of riders and enthusiasts are upstanding, law-abiding citizens. Several states have considered bills aimed at curtailing the profiling of motorcyclists by law enforcement agencies and others. The Board believes this is an important issue facing everyone who rides, and the AMA remains at the forefront in promoting the motorcycle lifestyle and protecting the future of motorcycling.”

Checkpoints in Australia

In Australia, we witness similar MOCs, even if they are not called that. Some are blatant such as this roadblock of the Finks MC in Victoria.

Vic Police roadblock the Finks
Vic Police roadblock the Finks

Police and transport officials check riders’ licences and vehicle and helmet compliance.

While there are no police or department statistics provided in Australia, David says the American experience is that few citations are issued relative to the number of riders pulled over.

For our own safety, it is important that police and relevant transport officials conduct inspections to rid the roads of unlicensed motorists and dangerously unroadworthy vehicles.

But surely checkpoints that discriminate against motorcycle riders only is morally wrong.

Also, if police and other officials are going to conduct all-vehicle inspections, there should be some consideration for leather-clad motorcyclists held up for long periods on hot summer days.

The least they could do is provide water and shade, and treat innocent citizens with some respect.

(Top photo courtesy of BMW MCC Victoria member, Chris Renwick)

17 Comments

  1. If you get pulled over and done nothing wrong or have anything to hide then let them. The Police are only doing there job and as directed from above. Don’t forget also that truckies at times also have this type of attention. It is a small number of individuals doing the wrong thing that gains this attention.

      1. This was over 3 years ago during as troubled period just after there were a number of bashing and shootings involving bikers. This was an individual incident and the police were on high alert. Again if you have done nothing wrong then allow them to do their job and be on your way.

        1. yeah, sure. Someone doing nothing wrong, just filling up at a servo, gets hit by 4 yes 4 (count them) police cars
          obviously no murders robberies vandalism or anything else ever happen in Qld
          so police harrass people for wearing jeans, shirt & a vest.

          1. Well äs usual”have a look at the date stamp on the video and you will see that it was over 3 years ago and if you are still worried then have a look at tonight’s headlines where a large number of trucks and trucking companies are being targeted. Again if you have nothing to hide or done anything wrong then allow them to do their job. Antagonizing the Police will only make things worse for you.

  2. If everything is in order what’s the problem? Hand over your licence, let them do their checks anf be gone within 2 minutes. The cops are allowed to pull me over, I don’t care, I’m licenced, registered and roadworthy, I have nothing to hide.

    1. back in the joh days that extended to roadside strip searches, and in many cases bashings. you only need an arsehole like newman to change everything with a stroke of a pen, Having nothing to hide does not mean you have nothing to fear

  3. Nothing new here, in over 40 years riding its always been this
    way, , What amazes me is motorcyclists shock and amazement
    when it happens to them. Obviously haven’t been riding too long.
    Roadside checks [harrasement] have been going on forever. Not to mention refusal of service at pubs etc. thing that gets me is that any of the protections in place for other minority groups are totally missing for us. if we were black, muslim or gay, the guardian, and civil liberty groups would be screaming blue murder

  4. ” ” He says they were established after a New York officer died in a crash trying to catch a speeding motorcyclist.” ”

    obviously the motorcyclist was a better rider than the police “expert”.

  5. Motorcyclists are the New Jews of the world, ask any Holocaust survivor how it all began for them & I am sure they will agree it came from something like this, the worse was they /we & I too allow it to happen. The VLAD laws will never be repealed & other ‘groups’ will be targeted next through VLAD. “I once believed in causes too & had my pointless points of view, but have found that just surviving, is a noble fight”

    1. Please do not associate me as a motorcyclist with the JEW.
      Ask yourself how come through out history from time in memorial why has the JEW has been persecuted??
      No it is our governments and supporting staff that have no idea.
      A doctor has uni training,
      A nurse has training,
      your mechanic has training. the list goes on BUT our so called leaders in government what training have they had (and there is no penalty for stuff ups cost blow outs etc) yep blame the opposition. It’s time that govt employee’s pay the price for their stuff ups not a golden hand shake and walk of without a penalty of any sort.
      Stop the world I want to get of.

  6. I agree with the article to a point. Safety and unlicensed riders pose a huge risk.
    But when talking about discrimination the definition in law is very clear in Australia. It does not include vehicle use. I think there are greater freedoms at risk as the Laws specifically targeting motorcyclist as the ‘vlad’ laws. These have not been recindered and can have greater devicsive outcomes.

    1. The vlad laws don’t target motorcyclists.
      They never did.
      From what I remember of the wording they targeted any group that could be deemed a criminal organisation by the flimsiest of criteria. They could be used against any individual who was a part of a group to target the entire group if your local Rotary club had a member who met the criteria that Rotary club could be targeted.
      It was and still is the most NAZI like legislation to be written in a supposedly free country and some very gullible people thought it was a good idea and I even know of one motorcyclist who supported the law because he couldn’t understand how wrong it was and he believed the rhetoric about it only targeting outlaw bikie gangs.
      There is a saying about the thin edge of the wedge, anything that only targets one minority with the approval of the rest of the public quickly gets used against the whole public.

      1. It literally can target any group larger than 3 people with its wording. The police force themselves could be deemed a group brandishing colours.

        Personally I have been stripped searched on the side of a busy highway with no result due to these laws. I had the audacity of riding a motorcycle with tattoos on my arm.

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