ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) - Motorcycle Awareness Month in Alaska is getting off to a high-profile start.
Anchorage police are investigating a weekend road-rage incident in which a pickup driver crowded motorcycle drivers on their way to a “blessing of the bikes” ceremony, part of the official kickoff to riding season. At high speed the truck passed one bike on the road shoulder and veered around another.
The incident was captured on video by a helmet camera. A half-dozen bikers confronted the pickup driver at a stop sign, and after a brief physical altercation, the driver took off through a red light.
Videos of the incident were posted on social media. So was a home address, where bikers were encouraged to confront the pickup driver. However, police say residents of the home were not involved and are feeling threatened.
A motorcycle safety group, Alaska Bikers Advocating Training and Education, or ABATE, has sponsored motorcycle training classes since 1991 and each year sponsors the Bike Blessing and The Gathering on the Anchorage Park Strip. ABATE board chairman “Big Dave Grizzly” Monroe said Monday he watched the videos and was expecting phone calls.
“I think there’s a lot of blame to go around,” he said.
The pickup driver called police to report bikers had broken his side-view mirror.
Monroe said he was not speaking for ABATE and that he had no information beyond what was shown in videos.
The video shows nearly two dozen motorcycles near the pickup. Some motorcycles drove side-by-side in one lane. The group occupied multiple lanes of A Street, which is not illegal, Monroe said.
“If it was cars doing that, nobody would say a word,” he said.
The motorcycles, he said, may have prevented cars from passing. The truck, he said, took the situation to another level of risk.
“What they did was annoying and frustrating,” he said of the bikers. “What the truck did was dangerous.”
He said he hoped friends of the motorcyclists would speak to them and advise them about riding etiquette. In the confrontation at the stoplight, the pickup driver appeared to grab the helmet of one of the motorcyclists, he said.
The video recorded violations by drivers on both sides, police said. No citations have been issued, said police spokeswoman Renee Oistad in an email. Police have the name of the pickup driver but are not releasing it. They don’t know names of the motorcycle drivers, she said.
She was not aware, she said, of anyone going to the address posted with the video. She had not heard of threats made to anyone living there.
“Just the online threat of calling for people to go to the address and retaliate against the truck driver,” she wrote.
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