Monday, December 11, 2023

Bikers go wild

By Zander Frost, Chronicle Staff Writer

A woman driving alone returning from a trip visiting grandchildren was swarmed Friday, Sept. 15, by “75-100” bike riders on Veterans Road in Queensbury. Her car was damaged and she said she was terrified.

She took video of the incident. It was shared with The Chronicle.

It shows bike riders filled both sides of the road and aggressively confronted — and some collided with — her car.

A Chronicle investigation connected the footage to a 9/15 “Rideout” advertised by “worldwide” BMX brand SE Bikes.

To an Instagram following of over 434,000, SE Bikes posted, “We’re sending 10 #secrew team riders to upstate New York today for the Glens Falls “MC” Rideout. Riders from California, Florida, Philly, and New Jersey!”

The woman, who asked to remain anonymous, said she was returning home alone from a four-hour drive to see her grandchildren.

“I was the only car that I could see,” she said. “I was going by the fire department. And way ahead of me, there was this wall of something, I didn’t know what it was.”

“I’m like, Oh, this is weird, it looks like a race or something. But there were no police cars,” she said.

“And as I got closer to them, and they got closer to me, I realized it was a wall of people on bicycles.”

“As they got closer, I realized they were taking up the whole road, my side included, so I had to come to a complete stop, so I wouldn’t hurt anybody.”

“And they started doing wheelies, and I’m like, Oh my gosh, they’re going to come up on my car,” she said.

“A couple of them hit my car. So I grabbed my phone and I took a couple of pictures,” she said, then started videoing.

The video starts with the car already surrounded and shows at least 50 riders.

There are sounds of impacts on her car, particularly from one bicyclist who brakes hard in front and seems to hit the front of the stopped car with the back of his bike. She said she locked her doors.

“I wish I got it from the beginning. But that’s only half of the group,” the woman said. She said her car suffered some damage in the frenzy.

“My first thought was — I actually came from two of my other grandchildren’s house. Like, what if they were in my car? How do I explain these kids are banging into our car on purpose? It was frightening,” she said.

She said she called the Glens Falls Police and was automatically transferred to Warren County Sheriff’s Office
She said “the sheriff picked up. And they just said they’re investigating.”

“I said, ‘well, I have video, what do you recommend I do with it? And he said, well call this number back and just leave a message with a supervisor. So I did that. I’d love to hear back from them,” she said.

She told The Chronicle the group was a mix of adults and kids.

Some “had red and yellow shirts on,” she noted.

“There’s older men, like clearly adult men, at least three. Two which had gray beards and one had like a darker brown beard,” she said.

SE Bikes said its event was set to start from East Field Park in Glens Falls.

SE Crew Members posted videos of the ride around the Glens Falls and Queensbury area, doing wheelies and often filling both sides of the street.

The Chronicle identified the shirts as SE Crew gear, and the bearded men as SE Crew Members.

The graphic used by SE Bikes to promote the event to hundreds of thousands of followers.
SE Bikes has a large international following. Beyond 434,000 on Instagram, it has 238,000 followers on Facebook, and another 264,700 on Tiktok.

It began advertising the “rideout” on September 13.

“SE Crew STAND UP! We’re super proud of the ten SE riders that traveled up to Glens Falls, NY yesterday specifically to do a rideout,” the company posted after the event.

SE Bikes, subsequently contacted by The Chronicle via Facebook, said “some of our sponsored riders traveled to Glens Falls to help to support a local youth with Autism.”

SE Bikes said, “While they were there, they gifted” the youth with a new bike.

SE Bikes said the ride was organized by the youth’s parents.

SE Bikes said, “In any large group ride, it’s nearly impossible for every rider to obey every traffic law.

“Can you imagine if 100-300 bike riders all rode in a single file and stopped completely for every stop sign? It would take 20 minutes or more just to pass through one intersection with a stop sign.”

Videos and photos obtained by The Chronicle, and also posted by SE Riders themselves, show chaotic scenes as the “rideout” moved through Glens Falls and Queensbury.

This photo was taken by the victim part-way through the swarm. The rider in the foreground appears to be an SE Crew Member.SE Bikes stopped messaging once presented with this image Tuesday.

Videos show a mob filling both sides of streets in Broadacres, near Sherman Avenue, on Broad Street, and elsewhere.

In one video posted by an SE Crew Member, riders advertise an energy drink while tossing the bottle back and forth on Broad Street. A car is slowed to a crawl behind them.

In another SE Crew Member video, an unidentified rider is in the oncoming traffic lane, forcing a car to veer into the shoulder to avoid a collision.

Just after, the Crew Member, who was shooting the video on a GoPro, lost control of a wheelie and collapsed in the street.

SE Bikes said, “We are sorry to of [sic] the bad behavior that you mentioned. We were not aware of any issues during the ride. And surely, none of our sponsored riders were involved.”

SE Bikes also said, “The ride in Glens Falls was not an SE sponsored ride. It was a local ride that our riders attended.”

SE said, “Most of our SE riders at the ride are grown adults. We sponsor our riders, not just based on their riding skill, but their personalities and social habits.

“If we ever saw an SE sponsored rider swarm a car or be aggressive to a local person, their sponsorship would be ended immediately. We have never had this issue though, as our sponsored riders are stand-up people.”

SE said, “We are truly saddened that a few bad apples caused this issue with the local woman. Oftentimes at rides, the ride leaders will make a small speech at the beginning of the ride. They will ask all riders to stay to the right, let car pass, and to never, EVER disrespect any pedestrians or vehicles.

Once presented with a photo of one of their riders in an oncoming traffic lane, the account stopped responding.

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