The organiser of the annual Blessing of the Bikes (pictured) before the annual Phillip Island MotoGP plans a campaign he hopes will increase public respect for riders.
Marcel Widmer, who runs the Inline 4 Cafe with wife Sabine says he wants those who attend the blessing at San Remo on Saturday 19 October 2019 to bring cards showing their profession.
“If we take some pictures on the day of riders holding up signs with their profession, we could send a very strong message,” he says.
“Can you imagine a guy in leathers holding up a sign saying ‘I am a doctor’, or ‘I am a teacher’ or ‘I am a pilot’ etc?
“I want to show the non-riding community that we are not bad people.
“We could start a very strong campaign here.”
Marcel says they would take photos at the blessing which could be used in an advertising campaign or on social media.
“The idea came from a conversation Sabine had with a customer, Ian Chamberlain,” Marcel says.
“I am sick and tired of how we get treated here in Australia,” says Marcel who has lived in Australia for 23 years and rides a 2015 Honda CBR1000SP.
“I am from Switzerland where riders get respect for what we are.”
Marcel says he and Sabine opened their motorcycle-themed Inline 4 Cafe in Mirboo North, Gippsland, six years ago but have moved out because of hostility from the local community.
“Shortly after we opened there was a heatwave and our fridges were not ready so we closed for the weekend and straight away rumours went through town that the police had us shut down,” he says.
“We are honest hard-working people and the biking community supported us greatly, but it was a struggle with the locals.
“When we organised the first Blessing of the Bikes, some local shops boycotted the event and made it hard for us.
“We also had some great supporter coming from the Mirboo North community, but there are always a few with a very strong voice!
“So we moved the event to San Remo three years ago and we moved our cafe to nearby Cape Woolamai on Phillip Island about 10 months ago.”
Marcel says he started the blessing ceremony to mirror similar ceremonies in Switzerland.
The event has several ministers administering the blessing and in 2017 the event attracted a record crowd of almost 8000 riders from around Australia.
If you can help Marcel to organise the respect campaign during this year’s blessing event, he can be contacted via email by clicking here.