A petition is being prepared for the informal meeting of recreational motorbike riders against police harassment at Canungra this Saturday morning.
Hundreds and possibly thousands of riders are expected to swamp the local cafes with coffee and brekky orders before the meeting which starts about 9am.
Meanwhile, Brisbane solicitor and avid BMW GS rider Jim Feehely is preparing a petition to the Queensland Government calling for a halt on extending police powers to stop and detain motorcycle riders traveling in groups of three or more.
A draft will appear on this site in the next day for comment. It hasn’t yet been decided whether to pass around sheets of paper to sign, use an online petition service or both.
The issues surfaced after outlaw gang violence escalated on the Gold Coast over the past month including an officer shot in the face.
While that incident involved an armed robbery not a bikie gang, Premier Campbell Newman responded with this statement: “Every (bikie) gang member will be assumed to be a criminal and treated as such until this is over.”
Early this week the State Government escalated their crackdown on bikies with a misguided announcement that they would bypass normal parliamentary procedure and give police the power to stop and detain riders in groups of three or more.
This attracted a backlash of concern that we were returning to a police state and the dark days of Bjelke-Petersen.
The government apologised if innocent bikers were intercepted, but later backpedalled saying that police would only target bikies and an assurance that innocent riders would not be targetted.
In the latest news, about 50 Black Uhlans bikies have been intercepted on their way to a rally at Scone.
However, recreational riders are concerned that they will be incorrectly detained simply because they are wearing leathers or riding a cruiser motorcycle.
There is also concern that legitimate charity runs will be disturbed as happened last weekend.
But at the heart of the problem is that most recreational bike riders would agree there is already a level of discriminatory harassment of them by police that has nothing to do with this bikie crackdown.
Ask yourself this: How often have you been pulled over for a licence check and general bike roadworthy scrutiny when you are riding your bike?
Now ask yourself this: How many times have you been pulled over for the same checks when driving your car?
I have lost count of how may times I’ve been pulled over when out riding. I have never been pulled over when driving.
A friend told me he was stopped three times in one day recently while riding his Ducati – so obviously he wasn’t mistaken for a bikie – yet he did not observe one car being pulled over.
If we already have this level of police harassment and discrimination against bike riders, how worse will it be if the police get extra powers? Surely they will be emboldened by the support of government to use a heavy hand on all riders.
The other major concern is that the vitriolic rhetoric directed at bikies will further drive a wedge between recreational bike riders and other road users who can’t distinguish between the two.
It is feared that this could lead to misguided road rage.
Bike riders have been forced off the road before by drivers and it could happen again if a paranoid driver feels they are being harassed by a large group of bikes on the road.
This increasing divide between riders and the rest of society comes despite a host of good works done by the motorcycle community.
The Black Dog Ride, alone, has raised more than $1 million in the past four years.
Many more millions have been raised on motorcycle charity runs and other functions for disadvantaged children, health issues, hospitals, local communities and more. Will riders stop attending charity runs if they are concerned they will be discriminated against by police “random” licence checks?
Motorcycle riders are also helping a lot of rural communities survive by visiting, eating and sleeping in their small towns.
Earlier this year the border town of Texas became the first motorcycle friendly town in mainland Australia and now Goondwindi Shire Council is planning to extend that to Inglewood and Goondiwindi.
Member for Parliament Lawrence Springborg said at the official ceremony in Texas that bike-riding tourists inject $125 a day into local communities. Will riders stop visiting these towns in fear they will again be detained by police for licence checks?
So rather then bike riders becoming pariahs as a result of this scatter-gun approach to outlaw gang violence, we should be lauded for our good works.
Rather than being further harassed and discriminated against, we should be encouraged to ride our bikes more often with rego concessions, free tolls, footpath parking and legalised filtering.
If you’re a recreational rider and you value what freedoms you have left, we’ll see you on Saturday morning for a calm and peaceful meeting.