The French government on Monday promised a new crackdown on illegal motorcycling by young people in suburbs across the country after two children were seriously injured by a motorcyclist near Paris.
The noisy nighttime races and stunts known as “rodeos” have become increasingly popular, particularly in low-income neighborhoods, leading to traffic and noise pollution denounced by local officials and many residents.
On Friday evening, a 10-year-old girl and an 11-year-old boy were hit by a horseman while playing tag outside their home in Pontoise, northwest of the capital.
French daily Le Figaro reported Monday that the girl had suffered a traumatic blow to the head and was in hospital in serious condition, while the boy suffered a broken leg.
The accident happened after a 19-year-old man was killed in June after being hit by a cyclist in the western city of Rennes.
“I have asked the police to step up their interventions this month,” Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin said in the southern city of Marseille, with a target of 10,000 checks across the country.
Nevertheless, the rodeos are often tolerated or championed as a rough urban subculture that provides an outlet for disaffected youth, with an upcoming movie,”rodeoThat seems to glorify the gatherings and created a strong buzz at the Cannes Film Festival last May.
“The government is very tough, not against urban rodeos that some have portrayed positively as a spectacle, but against these criminal acts in which women and children have been killed or seriously injured, as we have just seen,” Darmanin said. .
He said police had conducted 8,000 operations to break up rodeos in the past two months, leading to 1,200 arrests and the seizure of about 700 motorcycles and other vehicles, including all-terrain quads.
In 2018, parliament passed a law increasing the penalties for the riders to five years in prison.
But France has not taken as drastic action as Britain, where police are empowered to ram their cars into suspected criminal drivers in order to knock them over, a practice known as “tactical contact”.