Not All Motorcyclists Should Be Judged by Terrifying SUV Incident


ken zipp vietnam vetThe story of the bikers chasing down an SUV after the driver ran over motorcyclists is horrifying. It's making people fear bikers and think they are out to hurt or intimidate others on the road. This is not true. I know this firsthand.

Meet my father, Ken Zipp, on the left on the Harley giving a handshake to a disabled veteran on Memorial Day in Washington. He is a Vietnam Veteran and Purple Heart recipient. He belongs to Rolling Thunder, an organization that helps veterans. My dad has willingly given countless hours of his time to this cause. The name Rolling Thunder came about because that's what it sounds like when all the bikers ride together. He rides in a pack. Sometimes all within the Rolling Thunder organization, sometimes with friends outside the group -- sports bikes, Harleys, custom-made, all are welcome. We cannot discriminate against bikers because of this incident. Just like we cannot discriminate against SUVs. To help you, I should tell you more about my dad, a biker.

My father owns two Harley Davidsons. He mostly wears Vietnam Veteran t-shirts which are sold to raise money for vets of all wars. He is also a man who dresses up like Santa every year and brings the biggest smiles to his grandchildren's faces. That's my dad with my son, who loves his Pop Pop and his motorcycle and sleeps next to a photo of him on his bike every night because "he misses him when he's not around." My Pop has also dressed up like Santa for veterans at the local VA equipped with gifts purchased with monies raised from various Rolling Thunder fundraisers. That Santa suit has gotten a lot of use and brought a lot of joy.

dad santa child

My father and Rolling Thunder often are asked to honor fallen soldiers when they come home. He and his group have lead processions for far too many veterans who have given the ultimate sacrifice. My father is about honor and respect. And it's not only within his group and the causes they represent that my dad gives his time. Last month a local woman who my parents knew only because she worked at the place they get their film developed called my dad. Her husband had tragically died in a motorcycle accident and she knew my dad was a part of Rolling Thunder through small talk and seeing his photos. She asked him if there was any way he could get some friends together to lead the funeral procession. She said it would be something her husband would have loved. This man wasn't a veteran -- he wasn't even someone my father knew. But something made my dad say yes. It was raining that morning and even though not the best idea to ride a motorcycle in the weather, my father and one of his friends led the funeral procession for this man. My father felt this gesture on his part was a small way to help this woman, and her infant child, grieve the loss of her husband, a fellow father.

My father, the biker, makes me proud.

If I needed to convince you further that not all bikers who travel in packs are bad, meet Kenny Gorton. Kenny is a friend of mine since high school and biker with the Defiant Crew in upstate NY. DC is a group -- a brotherhood of bikes -- who support each other and their neighbors.

kenny gorton

He might look like trouble, but Kenny is a sweetheart. He agrees that bikers are stereotyped, but there is a lot of good they do, too. "We (Defiant Crew) just threw a benefit for a good friend of mine who has cancer. We were able to raise $4,500 for him. Our group is about doing good for our community, and taking care of the people in it."

There are brotherhoods and sisterhoods of bikers all over this country who are doing good deeds and who enjoy a ride through our city streets and our mountains. They aren't menacing. They want to help others. They donate their time and energy. They would come to the aid of someone in need.

We still don't know the whole story of the bikers versus the SUV -- and this is just one incident that unfortunately has made people fear all bikers. There was wrong from both sides. Mob mentality is scary, and just like how it seemed some of the bikers reacted with that kind of thought, joining together to hate all bikers is doing the same thing. There are things we can take away from the story, like being mindful of how we react -- this is true for both parties involved here. We also need to share the road -- this is true for bikers and drivers. Be kinder. Be more aware. And most importantly, we should never stereotype. Ever.

Did this make you change your mind about bikers?


Photos by Michele Zipp, Ken Zipp; last photo Kenny Gorton

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nekoy... nekoyukidoll

There's also the Patriot Guard.  They show up at soldier's funerals and protect the family from the WBC.  I think most bikers now have shed the "bad" image of the Hells Angels and other gangs but sadly there are still those few bad ones like the thugs that attacked that guy that give the good ones a bad rap.  Heck I know a guy whose a former biker (he doesn't ride anymore) and he's one of the sweetest guys I know.

bills... billsfan1104

Who is lumping them in one category?? I haven't heard one person, say that all bikers are like this.

bills... billsfan1104

Who is lumping them in one category?? I haven't heard one person, say that all bikers are like this.

cmjaz cmjaz

I was going to ask that too billsfan. I've been reading blogs and comment sections on this story and no one has grouped them together. Only the ones that have been regularly taking over the NY streets and causing choas lately.

Cafe... Cafe MicheleZ

There's been a lot of discussion about this in NYC where I live and where this happened which I why I wrote about it. In my experience and the experience of the bikers I know there is biker discrimination and an incident like this makes it worse.

nonmember avatar Cynthia

I have many friends and family who also happen to be bikers. Getting my bike license is on my list of to do's as well. My father is a member of the Red Knights where we live which is an organization of firefighters who ride, and a sister organization of the blue knights who are all police. Everyone I know who rides, rides for many charities including the Ride for Dad raising money for prostate cancer. Sadly, we lost a friend and neighbour a month ago to a bike accident because of a careless driver on 4 wheels. The majority of 'bikers' are warm hearted, tough looking people.

Jenn Joyner

My dad drives a bike cuz it uses less gas(and I think it's a little fun for him), and he's a big kid at heart. He's always nice, is active in the church and my sisters school activities and I've never heard him say a bad thing about anyone. He's also an electrical engineer for NASA and a photography nerd. Nothing about him is threatening or mean and I believe that's how it is for a large majority of bikers out there. They bike for fun, for community, and for eco-green reasons :)

nonmember avatar S.Smith

Thank you for this woman on the first blog about the sub made the comment that all motorcycles should be illegal in the US ..and wow that's like saying "a group of teenage boys bullied a child sooo it should be illegal to have teenage boys in the US"

bills... billsfan1104

Well then Michelle, when are you going to stop lumping Christians or Catholics together when one does something bad or lumping guns owners into one category when we haw a shooting?

I have not seen one persons say that all motorcyclists are like these thugs.

Tiffany Thomas

The douchbags in New York do not even deserve the title "bikers". its embarrassing. they where riding on crotchrockets, riceburners, whatever...but what happened was because a bunch of small endowed men decided that they had to prove to innocent people that they where tough. very lame. they were cowards. When I think of bikers I am reminded of my own father, still riding every chance he gets, wears his leathers, strong and passionate about the freedom of riding and the family around it. Those guys in NY were just a bunch of punks.


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