Mass motorbike gang causes traffic jams in Bethlehem

By Peter White, Allison Hess

2 comments
Police oversee the convoy of Outlaw Motorcycle Gang members.
Police oversee the convoy of Outlaw Motorcycle Gang members.

A gathering of more than 100 Outlaw Motorcycle Gang members, believed to be attending a memorial service at Te Wairoa Marae, triggered a large police operation in Bethlehem during the weekend which caused major traffic jams.

The road policing operation caused traffic congestion and delays along State Highway 2 on Saturday morning but Senior Sergeant Denis Murphy said the police were not apologetic.

While the delays to other motorists and road users were "unfortunate", the police made "no apology for policing gangs".

A large gathering of motorcycle gang members prompted a major police operation. Photo / Andrew Warner
A large gathering of motorcycle gang members prompted a major police operation. Photo / Andrew Warner

At one point during the operation police closed off the roundabout near the Bethlehem Birthing Centre on the corner of Te Paeroa Rd, causing traffic to back up all the way to Omokoroa one way and 11th Ave the other.

There was a heavy police presence and cordons at the Te Paeroa Rd roundabout. Te Paeroa Rd was blocked off and being used by police to process motorcyclists. There was also a smaller police presence near Wairoa Bridge.

A reporter at the scene counted at least nine police officers on one end of the cordon and six police cars and at least 18 police officers at the other end.

Mr Murphy said historically gang rides had caused public concern with members riding en masse.

He said there were just over 100 motorcyclists who came from local chapters as well as from Auckland.

"Rides like this intimidate other motorists and are a deliberate and provocative breach of traffic laws. They are also inclined to endanger members of the public, ignoring road safety rules, with complaints of dangerous driving, driving with the wrong class of licence and driving under the influence of alcohol and drugs," he said.

No arrests were made but the operation saw the issuing of at least 18 infringement notices.

Mr Murphy said all the motorcyclists were breath- tested and all passed.

However, he said police had received photographs from concerned members of the public which identified dangerous driving by the motorcyclists and police would be following that up.

He said the members complied with police requests.

"We will be monitoring their movements with a particular focus on road safety and on ensuring our communities are not harmed or intimidated."

Te Wairoa Marae did not wish to comment on the day's events.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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