Dear PoPville – ATVs and Dirtbikes in DC

Photo by Royalbroil via wikipedia

“Dear PoPville,

I was walking around the McMillan reservior in NW on Sunday evening when a large group of guys on 4-wheelers and dirtbikes drove by. There were about 20 vehicles in total. They were driving fast and disobeyed traffic laws – even driving into oncoming traffic lanes on Michigan Ave (next to the Washington Hospital Center) and forcing cars to stop. It was hard to tell if it was just a group of guys out goofing around or if it was something more menacing. Are 4-wheelers even street legal in DC?”

The Post has an interesting article about some of the riders Dirt bike dreams face reality of D.C. police enforcement:

A growing number of thrill-seeking young people are taking to the streets in off-road bikes and ATVs, usually out of the sight of federal Washington. They perform risky stunts that typically are reserved for open fields or trails in outlying counties. The stunts, often inspired by video and pictures on social media sites, are playing out in urban neighborhoods across the nation.

D.C. police say the high speeds, tricks and jumps are a dangerous, even deadly, neighborhood nuisance, especially when packs of 20 or more roar through communities.

36 Comment

  • My roommate when I was studying abroad a few years back was finishing his undergrad at Johns Hopkins and asked if I had ever heard of the 12 O’clock Boys, a phenomenon in Baltimore (see video which was funded by Kickstarter if I remember correctly

    I was driving on Florida Ave NE two weekends back and out of nowhere, I’d say, 15 kids on dirtbikes and ATVs driving into incoming traffic swarmed the road right in front of a cop car, who immediately turned his siren on. The bikes and ATVs dispersed to the sidewalks and other lanes and circled the helpless cop. He ended up chasing two on bikes further northeast on Florida while the other bikes tailed back then began driving after the cop chasing a few of their friends.

    It was pretty nuts to see, and eventually somebody (whether it be a civilian or a reckless kid) will get killed.

  • I was nearly hit by a red dirt bike running the red light at the intersection of 18th & FL NW this morning. Didn’t realize it was part of a larger phenomenon!

  • Straight up menace. Need to be outlawed and impounded when they are found operating in the district.

  • Oh, great. I thought I had finally gotten away from dumb rednecks when I moved to DC. And now we have urban rednecks.

    • I too mistakenly thought I gotten away from dumb redneck behavior when I moved to DC. Add dirtbikes to the list of littering, hocking up spit loogies in public, and rampant overt racism and violent homophobia. DC thugs actually have a whole lot in common with Alabama trailer trash; one principle difference is that it’s not PC for us non-spitters to criticize the culture underlying these identical behaviors.

      • It’s probably the way you do it.

      • Can someone please explain to me why people (usually men) need to spit so much? In my whole life, I have never had so much saliva build up in my mouth that I needed to get rid of it immediately on the sidewalk, metro platform, in a drain, etc. I see it every day and it grosses me out – especially when it’s preceded by the noise of gathering up phlegm.

        • Shit! Women do it too!! It’s disgusting. I see all backgrounds doing it and can’t figure out what’s going on with these people.

  • I was pretty upset by the tone of the WaPo piece. It seemed to imply that these were just fun-loving lawbiding citizens out for a ride together. Every experience I’ve had with these wanna-be Biker Boyz has included them violating countless traffic laws and endangering drivers and pedestrians alike.

    According to the article, MPD’s approach to handling this phenomenon is to not pursue them, but instead try to identify the individuals involved and later get a warrant to visit their residence and then only impound the bikes if they are stolen. In my view, if an officer turns on their sirens and you evade him on your bike, you have already committed a traffic offense and then attempted to flee. That alone should be enough cause to confiscate the bike and send someone to jail for a few days.

    • I agree. The article was very sympathetic to the riders who are knowingly doing something illegal often on stolen bikes. It was very strange to me. These vehicles do not belong on the road. If they love bikes, why don’t they get motorcycles and rider responsibly?

      • ah

        Because you can’t register a stolen motorcycle, and you can’t get a license if you haven’t turned 17(?)

      • I think the last sentence of your response was also the answer to your question: These kids have no interest in riding responsibly. For them, this is another act of rebellion and a lighter (though still dangerous) criminal subculture. The Post article also glossed over the fact that that many of these four-wheelers and dirtbikes are stolen and these individuals aren’t limiting themselves to petty traffic violations, they are criminal crews committing other crimes.

    • “It’s a lot of stuff that’s illegal — people selling drugs, big rims, tail pipes too loud, music too loud. When are we ever going to have fun?” Wilkinson said. “I don’t see nothing wrong with what we’re doing.”

  • I agree with Anon 3:04 that the WaPo article was entirely too sympathetic. These people are breaking the law, and it doesn’t matter if perhaps it is less serious than some other law you may be breaking. I watch the idiots around our house speed out of the alley and across the street without ever ONCE looking for oncoming traffic or pedestrians. They are going to get killed and their family will sue for millions for their “beloved, precious, good boy who never got into trouble and would have cured cancer if he had lived” son. Or, even worse, they are going to kill a small child or an old lady who can’t move out of the way fast enough. I’ve seen plenty of close calls.

    Enough with making excuses about how hard their lives are. This city has access to more free entertainment than almost anywhere. Go to a museum. Read a book. Walk around the monuments or through Rock Creek. Take in a free outdoor movie. Volunteer somewhere. Stop being a waste of oxygen and quit your whining.

    • this is par for the course for the Post, the classic bleeding-heart liberals on local social issues

      • Um, I guess. Except for that hack Jennifer Rubin. How she gets paid for the drivel she spews, I will never understand . . .

        • First of all, why is this a liberal issue? Secondly, what does Rubin have anything to do with any of this? Thirdly, Rubin is not the only right wing opinion writer for the Post – there are others like George Will and Charles Krauthammer.

      • What does “Librul” have to do with anything?

        I was damn near clipped by a minibike on the south Irving sidewalk by CH. There was nowhere to go but on the grass. This is a universal problem.

        Less partisan mouth-breathing.

    • Plus one million.

  • There’s a kid in my neighborhood who can’t be more than 13, or 14 who tears around the alleys with no helmet. He’ll often shoot out into the street without looking. How could his parents let him do that? It’s just a matter of time before he gets hurt and then his parents will be the only people on the block surprised.

  • This isn’t a new issue. 15 years ago, I used to see ATV’s zipping around the site where the Costco is now. I think the difference is that with a cell phone you can plan a meet up and get all James Dean with your friends. Rebel without a cause, indeed.

    I grew up in a rural area, and I remember neighbors had minibikes that their 5 year old could ride. The article didn’t seem sympathetic to me; the author let the dumb kids hang themselves by their own dumb commentary.

  • Huge in Baltimore. They have a name there…the 12 O’Clock boys. I used to live there and often saw them. Once in the inner harbor about 20 or so came ripping through pedestrian walkway and terrorized the hell out of the tourists. If they can they would find a group and then start doing circles are them. Pretty scary stuff if you don’t know that this is common in Bmore. Although, it is very dangerous and illegal it seems to be tolerated in Baltimore…..prob too busy looking for Marlow.

  • I was on a grand jury that indicted a young man who struck and killed a 3- or 4-year-old kid while riding his dirtbike around his apartment complex. It was sad.

  • They are definitely illegal to ride either in the district. I was looking up some registration issues a while ago and came across their definition of what type of vehicle you can and have to register. Here is there description for Motorcross and ATV’s: “It is a criminal offense to operate an ATV or a dirt bike on any public property in the District. ATVs and dirt bikes are not permitted to be registered in the District.”

    Never heard about the 12 O’Clock boys though. That’s some craziness.

  • God how I hate these idiots. They take turns racing around the one-way streets in my neighborhood. Cops NEVER do anything.

    I think two of these jackasses were killed a year or two ago when they raced under the wheels of a turning semi truck. On New York Avenue. There should be swift and unequivocal crackdown.

    • realistically it is very hard for cops to do anything in the moment because they are in big cars and these guys are on small bikes that can shoot down narrow alleys and sidewalks etc. A full sized cop car trying to keep up with someone going 50 MPH through an alley is a much bigger threat to your safety than just the idiot on the bike, unfortunately. If he hits your car in his bike he will do some damage but probably only kill himself, not you, while a cop hitting you in a Crown Vic is going to really mess you up.

  • Weird, I have never ever seen this in DC.

  • MPD policy is not to pursue illegal dirtbikes and ATVs, because the pursuit is considered too dangerous. They will only take action if you can provide them with a location where the vehicles are stored. This issue comes up constantly on the 5D email list. Needless to say, nothing is ever actually done.

  • Caltrops!

  • Saw this same group riding down Mass Ave outside our building near 4th St NW. Dirt bikes and ATVs – 2 cop cars in the mix, lights not on (useless). Of course, no one was wearing a helmet. Seems to me that cops could put stop sticks in the road ahead of the group and try to get other cops to heard them toward that area and blow their tires once they hit the sticks and arrest them – oh well, wishful thinking.

  • “D.C. police say…” DC Police say a lot of things i’ve come to realize.

  • “D.C. police say…” DC Police say a lot of things i’ve come to realize.

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