OPINION: There was something about “Wynder”, one of the best (if not the best) illegal dirt bike riders there is.
It wasn’t the crazy dangerous no-helmet riding.
Or Wynder’s green Kawasaki dirt bike ripping through the red lights in Ōtara. Or the bright yellow shoes and hoodie (that apparently wasn’t Killer Beez yellow).
It was when he said his dream was “to travel the world doing this – riding my bike”.
And the reason for that? Wynder wanted respect for his skills.
“Everybody wants to be respected,” said Wynder.
Obviously, it is hard to have sympathy for intimidating dirt bikers or, of course, for gangs.
But if you listen to Wynder, “Bike Life” is a lifestyle, not a gang. It is an escape.
His mate “Treyway” was the same. Treyway learnt to ride off his dad, a senior member of the Killer Beez.
It is important to note here the Killer Beez are now inter-generational.
Remember it is not that long ago they were a street gang. They are now massive and entrenched.
“Bike Life” is inter-generational too. It is entrenched.
It is spreading throughout New Zealand. It is coming to a town near you.
For instance, Paddy Gower Has Issues focuses on a crew in the rural Taranaki town of Waitara.
Some Bike Life members are kids, looking for belonging and fun. Others, adults with jobs. But the gangs are also involved – police said it is a breeding ground.
Worse, people are getting killed. Two riders have died.
And with the way that they ride, it is a question of who’s next. Another rider or a member of the public?
People are scared and they are fed up.
It has global roots.
In the US, it’s been a massive problem.
They dealt with it by crushing bikes in New York (it didn’t work there and we know from experience it won’t work here).
It is important to listen to what Treyway and Wynder have to say if we want to understand it or try to stop it. It is the first time ever Kiwi “Bike Life” riders have spoken.
The reality is, “Bike Life” is about one of the biggest issues facing us today.
Here’s something from an internal police report about dirt bikers, because I reckon the cops say it best: “Anti-social dirt bike behaviour and gang involvement will likely increase long term if social deficits, including recreational opportunities, are not addressed in deprived communities.”
Translation: “This stuff is going to get worse unless life improves for people in poorer areas.”
Like I said, that’s from the New Zealand Police – the cops out there who are dealing with it.
It is an awkward, inconvenient truth.
The cops get it. But they can’t solve the dirt bike issue on their own.
Just like the bigger issue of our “lost young people”, it is just so complex. Just like the issue of gangs, it is entrenched.
We have a lot of new gang laws coming. Maybe they will work, maybe they won’t.
But from what I have seen with “Bike Life”, dealing with gangs is going to be super hard.
They are actually part of an entrenched social problem.
On my show I like to find solutions. Or at least come to conclusions.
So here is a conclusion: “Inequality is bad for New Zealand. It creates issues for all of us.”
Patrick Gower is the host of Paddy Gower Has Issues on Three and ThreeNow.