1,800 motorcycles seized by police since January in French rodeo crackdown

French police are continuing to increase their crackdown on urban motorcycle rodeos in the country, but will their methods solve the issue?

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The issue of urban motorcycle ‘rodeos’ continues in France, with 1,800 bikes reportedly seized by police since the beginning of the year. 

The ‘rodeos’ have been an on-going issue in France for some time now, but authorities are making ground in their battle against them.

They essentially involve young people ‘claiming’ public roads at night racing motorcycles around them. Of course, we all love motorcycles and we love people that love motorcycles but the danger to the public cannot be ignored, especially from the perspective of the police. 

We wrote a few weeks ago that the rodeos had led to the injury of some people, including a 10-year-old boy and an 11-year-old girl. 

Since the start of this year, the French police has stepped up its efforts to clamp down on the rodeos, and Le Repaire des Motards reports that 1,800 bikes have been seized by authorities since January. Additionally, 2,200 people have been arrested in more than 16,000 operations to try to control this rodeo culture.

Le Repaire also reports that there has been an intensification of police efforts in the last couple of weeks, with 2,914 operations carried out in the week beginning 8 August alone. This resulted in 338 arrests, and the seizure of 157 two-wheelers.

Last week saw a further escalation, with 8,613 operations, 342 vehicle seizures and 586 arrests.

In August, the operations have been carried out mostly in Paris, in the north, and in the Pas de Calais area. 

When we wrote about this previously, we linked it to the issue in the UK of groups of young people riding dirt bikes around working class areas, causing intimidation, and that negative police intervention (i.e. seizing motorcycles) does not necessarily solve the problem of that intimidation. 

For a start, young people who have their motorcycles seized will simply find an alternative way to generate the enjoyment they found in riding the motorcycle. Secondly, the seized motorcycle is relatively easily replaced. 

The same can be said of the French ‘rodeo’ problem, and it seems from the outside that the police there are likely to find themselves in an increasingly complicated and expensive battle against young people who ultimately are just trying to enjoy themselves. 

They should not do the rodeos, for sure, because as mentioned above they can cause danger and harm to other people. But, to draw them away from the rodeos you need to show them an alternative. 

Regarding the UK, we suggested motocross. In France, this is arguably an even stronger option. Just look at the crowds at the MXGP of Charente Maritime in Saint Jean d’Angely last weekend, which were huge. 

Furthermore, the MX2 class in St. Jean was won by Tom Vialle, who closed his deficit in the World Championship behind Jago Geerts to two points with one Grand Prix to go as he chases his second world title, and Vialle’s race two win was in front of compatriots Thibault Benistant (2020 EMX250 Champion) and Tom Guyon. 

In the MXGP class, France’s Romain Febvre was the closest rival to Jeffrey Herlings in an epic 2021 world title battle that went down to the final moto of the season, and this year they have had Maxime Renaux winning a Grand Prix in his first year on a 450 after winning the 2021 MX2 title in dominating fashion. 

At the end of September, Marvin Musquin, the aforementioned Renaux, and 2021 AMA 450MX Champion Dylan Ferrandis will represent France at the Motocross of Nations in Redbud, Michigan. They have a strong chance to win with such a line-up.

From here, it seems that if France promoted their motocross stars to people outside of motocross, and publicly subsidised track days for young people on motocross tracks throughout the country to make them affordable, they would make more ground in their battle against urban rodeos than by simply arresting people and seizing their motorcycles.

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