You’ve probably seen a video or two of motorcycle riders racing either on the highway or provincial roads. In the videos, they tuck their head and body in to reduce wind resistance, weave through traffic, and approach speeds that make other cars look like they’re standing still.
These are videos of motovloggers (motorcycle video bloggers) and their desire for views and subscriptions are wreaking havoc on our streets.
They’re not all bad. Many motorcycle vloggers out there have been producing valuable, positive content such as rides-along to scenic locations, reviews of new models or accessories, or even how-to videos for common maintenance issues. However, a portion of these motorcycle vloggers have decided to focus on the very illegal act of street racing.
Being exciting in nature and also illegal, it’s no surprise vlogs that capture these scenes get the precious user views. The high speed mixed with danger and unpredictability easily keeps viewers glued, waiting for what happens next. Content creators are encouraged to consistently upload this kind of content because sites like YouTube, Twitch, and Facebook reward them financially once they reach a certain threshold of subscribers, like 100,000 or 200,000. Viewers tend to subscribe to a particular content creator if they consistently and regularly produce videos with interesting subject matter.
Unfortunately, this system becomes a feedback loop. Driven by the desire to earn from their videos, content creators focus more on this kind of content. It becomes solely about street racing, carving through winding roads and generally disregarding the laws of the road. Naturally, this draws in more viewers, builds their reputation as “fearless racer” and puts them on track for the next tier and higher earnings.
It’s come to the point where these original “outlaws” are now able to afford bigger, better, and faster motorbikes, flaunt it to their viewers, and race on the streets at even higher speeds. Some of these viewers watch with envy, seeing these videos as a means to get rich quick, buy that dream bike, and be an admired outlaw just like the content creator they subscribe to.
As such, it only creates more hooligans on the road — many with little knowledge of how to properly ride, much less knowledge of how illegal it is — riding fast and recklessly on the road in the hopes of becoming the next YouTube motorcycle star. As you can imagine, it leads to many accidents on the road. Those unfortunate enough to be on the receiving end of this recklessness found out the hard way that these hooligans can barely afford the proper safety equipment, much less to pay for repairs to vehicles and property they inevitably damage.
Motovloggers have already begun maligning these bad influences, and encouraging the public to stop patronizing them. Quite surprisingly, the outlaws have fought back, justifying these videos as their source of income and washing their hands of responsibility. They say they can’t control what the public takes away from their videos. Yet if you have to resort to illegal activities (street racing, exceeding the speed limit) to make money, doesn’t that make you a criminal?
As of this writing, they continue to be heard-headed, answering accusations with expletives and funny faces like the petulant children they are. Thankfully, the LTO has begun cracking down on their videos, finding their identities and issuing the offenders show cause orders. Still, that’s not enough to stop this reckless riding crime spree. As viewers, it falls upon you to report these videos to the moderators of the social networks. Those are our streets too. It’s time we take them back.
(The author is the Motoring Editor of Manila Bulletin.)