Reader Reports: “100+ guys on dirt bikes just went flying down H St NE, Weaving through traffic. One hit by a car”


@CarolineBehr tweets us around 7:30pm:

“@popville 100+ guys on dirt bikes (100 motorized 2 and 4 wheeled off road bikes.) just went flying down H St NE, Weaving through traffic. One hit by a car.

And of the 4 police cars I saw on the road, not one turned on their lights or tried to stop them. Very dangerous.”

Ed. Note: Last week we spoke about a serious motorbike/dirtbike accident in Columbia Heights.

236 Comment

  • Two big groups (40+) of guys (without helmets) on four wheelers and dirt bikes just drove down Georgia Ave north of Petworth. There was even a cop driving along side one of the groups, but he did nothing.

    • I called 911 about this same thing at 9:10pm August 10–is it a second Sunday of the month thing? They were headed north on 14th in Columbia Heights, taking up both northbound and southbound lanes. It was really terrifying to encounter them head on.

  • Scrillin

    Just heard them come up 13th St NW.

  • awesome to see, despite what the mpd officer on here said, that the cops have totally given up and that mad max beyond thunderdome gangs have taken over.

    • Seriously, piss off. No one is race baiting but you. Those people annoy the crap out of everyone too. In fact anyone riding high cc bikes piss me off. I just had to deal with (wheelieing?) Motorcycles going 40 through traffic on the beltway. That said… enough with this apologizing for criminals and anti social behavior bs on this site. Gentrification creates a range of problems, granted, but the whole we were here first and so bad behavior is allowed argument is at best the new white man’s guilt phenomenon and at worst terrible public policy because everyone deserves to live in a safe prosperous environment, most of all the people who have lived here for a long time. It is dangerous when people ride unlicensed like this. In the past two weeks I have had to duck out of the way for a dirt bike on the sidewalk and had the man who wiped out with his son on a green bike in CH glare at me as he almost crashed into a car blazing out of an alley.

      At this time I would also like to point out in a separate comment how completely inept Bowser has been at addressing policing issues. I have voted Republican and have volunteerd for Obama since he was still in the IL senate but this us the first time I have considered voting off party line. The main alternative is no Saint either but I digress.

      I’m sure the other shoes is not a terrible person and genuinely cares but at what point do we stop being apologists and actually advocate for a better neighborhood for all

      • TL;DR sorry

      • Definitely race baiting. He did the same thing on a dc subreddit thread on the same topic.

      • “I have voted Republican and have volunteerd for Obama since he was still in the IL senate but this us the first time I have considered voting off party line.”

        I don’t understand this comment. You’ve “voted Republican” and “volunteered for Obama” and this year you are voting “off party line”? I’m unsure what party you’re loyal to, based on the above.

        • Obama isn’t doing enough about black kids on dirtbikes in the hood now that I’ve moved in?!?! Vote him out!!!

          No this is not a race bait, it’s an attempt to point out how skewed your perception of the situation is, and how much of a double standard it creates. Everyone is allowed to rant, and I’m allowed to have a different opinion on the discussion.

          Obama was mentioned, though he has nothing to do with this by you because you see him as black. This issue has nothing to do with Obama, or even black teenagers, If you saw these kids as individuals, you’d see that most of them do no harm, and that the bad ones should be weeded out, not the entire group.

      • Where’s the insinuation of race? What am I missing? Maybe I need more coffee.

    • Many of the riders on Memorial Day are Vietnam Veterans.

      • No kidding. Getting to go to that conflict and getting paid for it was obviously the highlight of their lives.

        • Not to mention the city announces the street closures weeks in advance, streets are shut down, no peds, no cars and they ride along at about 10MPH.

          Versus the pure anarchy of the streets being crowded with people and cars, and these bikes riding down the sidewalks and streets at 40+MPH, cutting in and out of traffic, and generally being the biggest nuisances they can be.

          Yeah, almost the same thing.

    • brookland_rez

      It’s not just Memorial Day. They came through on 9/11 last week. I saw them go right past my office. In their defense they were at least organized about their ride. I ride a motorcycle but I don’t get the “let’s get 1000’s of bikes together and ride through DC and make a bunch of noise because it’s somehow patriotic”. I’m all for commemorating 9/11, Memorial Day, etc, I just don’t get how making a bunch of noise commemorates anything except the oil companies.

    • Except on Memorial Day, it’s a planned, announced ride with street closures (like a marathon) and they ride at like 10 mph. It’s annoying, yes, but they aren’t endangering others. If the dirt bikers were just annoying, I’d totally get just shrugging it off, but they’re putting themselves and innocent bystanders in danger.

    • rolling thunder is very annoying for the noise. but not for the dangerous reckless driving of illegal vehicles.

    • Those riders aren’t riding down Mass Ave in the oncoming lane of traffic, blasting through red lights without a police escort, so let’s stop with the BS comparison, mmm-kay?

    • Look, I’m no fan of the Rolling Thunder folks, but when they do ride their crotch rocket noise machines, they’re in the proper lanes of the road and do not show complete disregard for their safety and that of everyone else. And as others have said, it’s well-organized and planned.

    • Well, Rolling Thunder never buzzed through my residential neighborhood, running stop signs, and hitting cars. That being said, they are annoying, too, but at least it is just an annual event dedicated to more than just being a nuisance.

    • You must be out of your mind!! It is a ridiculous comparison to make. Rolling thunder is an organized, pre- planned event that may cause some inconvenience but does not endanger lives. Just yesterday I was on Benning Road N.E. with my toddler grandson in the back seat sleeping in his car seat. A group of 8 large dirt bikes and a 4 wheeler raced up behind me while I was waiting at a red light. They were doing wheelies and jumping on and off the sidewalk. Several bicycle riders had to jump into the brush beside the bike path to avoid being hit. I called 911 and they told me nothing can be done. We went on to shop for about two hours. On our way home we encountered them again!! This time there were about 15. They went down Benning, turned right on Bladensburg, and left into the Trinidad neighborhood. They made a loop and wound up going down the very busy H st. My experience was terrifying!

    • Are you saying all the bikers are in DC to promote the “12 O’Clock Boys” documentary? Because that’s a terrible promotion strategy.

  • There has to be something done. They stopped traffic on North Cap and H and then there seemed to be a new group going down Sherman. These bikes pose a danger to themselves and to drivers on the road. It’s frustrating to hear cops can’t do anything to stop them.

  • They just passed by Park Road and 14th St NW. It was indeed something to see. Like a vision of the coming Apocalypse.

  • Mike

    Those same guys were over at 19th & Benning a little over an hour ago. They all stopped traffic at the intersection, passed 2 police vans, and continued toward H Street. Neither van turned its lights on until long after they had passed.

  • A large group just went down 7th in PQ

  • Saw them fly up South Capitol by the ballpark a few hours ago. Mostly on the street, some on the sidewalk going fullspeed, a few going the wrong way on the other side of the street.

    Told the girlfriend that in a few hours, we’d hear something about them terrorizing Columbia Heights, which of course sadly seems to be the case based on other comments.

  • What the effff is going on???! Sorry for the driver and person the bike is an idiot. Who are these people?

  • We wave at them. If you’d like us to do more, email your Council Member. We’re prohibited from chasing.

    • Genuinely curious…if my buddies and I decide to take our cars out and drive recklessly will we be left alone?

      • We’re not allowed to chase for traffic offenses so take from that what you will.

        • Shortly after they rolled through Columbia Heights I heard a commander (?) broadcast over a nearby cop’s radio that no one should pursue the bikers. [Shrugs.]

        • Anastasia Beaverhausen

          Anon MPD: If I have an unregistered scooter and the police try to pull me over because it’s not registered, can I just drive away and expect that I won’t be chased?

      • Because when the bikes wreck as a result of the chase, the cops get sued because our pockets are invariably bigger than the guy on the dirt bike. So no chase, no lawsuits.

      • That’s not the only reason. The other – perhaps bigger – reason is that chases are, in sum, more dangerous to the chase participants and bystanders than letting the original activity continue.

        • Yes. But the policy clearly incentivizes more of this dangerous lawlessness. The road to hell — or societal disintegration — is paved with good intentions.

    • So, if a terrorist was tossing hand grenades out of the open window of a car, you would wave at him/her as he/she passed? This doesn’t pass the laugh test. You can radio ahead the direction that the dirt bikes are traveling, have cruisers block the road ahead, you block the road from behind, box them in, and cite them when they’re stopped for reckless driving. Why do we pay taxes to have all these police officers on the beat if you don’t know how to work together to catch a suspect without engaging in a high speed car chase?

      • Oh wait, so scratch the hand grenades out of the equation…if said terrorist was just hitting pedestrians and running, over and over, throughout downtown, no one would chase him/her? That’s absurd.

        • I agree the police and legislators should find some alternative way to do something about this, but your examples do not work in this case. If a fleeing criminal is an intentional danger to other citizens, they of course are allowed to chase.

      • I see you have learned hyperbole. It will serve you will on internet comment boards. We can only chase for violent felonies. So if you stoke a DVD player and fled, no chase. If you took someone’s car in an armed carjacking, we can chase all day. The powers that be have decided that there is a greater risk of these knuckleheads crashing into innocent people if we’re behind them with lights and sirens blaring.

        If you email my Captain, say hi for me.

      • Were not allowed to chase OR BLOCK for traffic offenses only. If youre throwing grenades out of a car, thats more than a traffic offense. As the Officer said, if you dont like the restrictions the department had placed on us, email or call the Chief, or your council member.

      • Hey a guy in New York died as he was placed in a headlock by an officer. Policy said no officer should use a headlock to bring a suspect down. Anybody who is a fighter knows control the head, control the fight. With that said MPD policy is no chase for traffic offenses. Y’all can question it till y’all are blue in the face. Policy is policy. When we go against policy, we are held accountable. So public opinion continues. Call it what you must all we can do is take a picture. Try to learn their names. Apply for a warrant. Which will be denied by OAG. MPD does it job very well. But my pockets will not be tampered with because a guy on a dirtbike sues for his lack of riding skills. Mmmmmk

    • This has been forwarded to your Captain.

      Thanks for your professional comments.

      • I have not figured out yet why you can’t understand that it’s not the MPD officer’s decision not to chase, but a citywide policy.

  • So the police are enabling the illegal behavior? How does this make any sense at all?

    • Sounds like this needs to get some coverage on the local news or the Washington Post. It would force the MPD and our city council members to respond. This is a tragedy waiting to happen. Anyone have any footage to share with the media?

  • Accident occurred on 3rd and H just outside of Giant. I came upon the scene afterwards and saw at least seven police cars. A woman was screaming at a cop saying her five year old had almost been run over on the sidewalk. He told her repeatedly that there was nothing they could do and recommended that she call her city councillor. I felt bad for the poor couple in the car who hit/were hit by the bike. The rider of the motor bike apparently escaped, but the bike was still there.

  • I called 911 when we saw them on H near Union Station. Well over 100, popping wheelies, blocking traffic & intersections and being incredibly stupid and reckless. 1 police car w/lights followed briefly but then disappeared. Some were almost hit by a street sweeper.

  • Around 8pm there were heading west on I street around 19th and 20th streets. One or two of them actually drove on the sidewalk across from where I was walking. It was very dangerous–surprised the police are not on to them.

  • A few of them went screaming down 12th Street in Brookland this afternoon. I looked out the window just in time to watch a guy pop a wheelie to race down the street on one wheel for a rather impressive distance…adorably passing a driving cop, who didn’t so much as flick his lights on at the guy. Sounds like a banner day for idiots on dirt bikes.

  • I bet if prostitutes and Johns were riding on these four wheelers and dirt bikes, Vice and MPD would be all over them, in a second. Just saying, they are more dangerous.

  • There were six or eight of them twenty minutes ago on 9th Street in Shaw.

    Glad to hear one of them got hit by a car, though. Too bad it was only one.

  • I think they started their route here in Deanwood or Capitol View earlier in the evening. We were unloading the kids from the car when we heard the noise of them approaching. My husband and I lost count in the 200s as they sped by.

  • I’ve been told the police have a general protocol not to chase them because it may cause more danger…. Although I saw one chasing them the other night for the first time.

  • Police cannot enforce the 50cc law?

    • houseintherear

      Actually all four-wheelers and dirt-bikes are illegal in DC. I had trouble registering my Tomos moped a few years ago (before they were all the rage), because it was too un-scooter-like.

  • So, the MPD can’t do anything about this because they have been told not to chase by their superiors.

    Yet, the Courts have told MPD that bystanders can record video of the arresting people, and MPD will still threaten you with obstruction of justice, trash your camera and arrest you if you do so.

    What’s going on here?

  • What the hell? The day someone gets hurt, that person is going to sue the hell out of mpd for not having done anything to stop this, no?

    And meanwhile we get tickets for registration being 1 day expired or driving 6 mpd over the limit…

  • A lot of people here seem upset — yes, these rides take place regularly in Baltimore, Atlanta and Philly. Yes, they are dangerous. Yes, I would be upset if I was about to be run over on the sidewalk and narrowly escaped being mauled by a dirt bike.

    That said, why are folks using these rides to express themselves? Why is this taking place?

    Well, you have communities — in grossly unequal cities with South African-levels of socio-economic inequality — excluded from the bars, the cafes, the $4 lattes, the $25 drunk brunches.

    This is a way for certain people to re-occupy their city, their streets, their neighborhoods, their home.

    If you don’t like this dangerous behavior, you need to pay more tax, contribute to a reduction in inequality, create opportunities for social inclusion, promote more affordable housing throughout all neighborhoods in the city.

    It’s not rocket science why people “act out” with these rides.

    • Top quality trolling.

    • From one liberal to likely another. But what a bunch of liberal nonsense.

    • I’m a white woman in my 30s who has decided to work in the nonprofit sector, making much less money than my peers with similar experience/educational attainment. I also can not afford overpriced lattes or boozy brunches, but I don’t resort to criminal activity to compensate. You know what else I can’t afford – a dirt bike or ATV.

      • So you’re a white woman, yes? And you work in a white collar job that while it doesn’t pay Goldman Sachs wages, pays much better than anyone working at Target could ever dream of making? That means you’re not a person of color in a country with a brutal history of structural racism and social exclusion of people of color.

        • So your solution is to alienate some of the most liberal people who would work to change our structural racism and social exclusion?

          Maybe if they took this as a form of (semi-)nonviolent protest in places like Ferguson or almost all of Florida / Alabama, then I could understand it. Around DC, they’re just punking people and get no sympathy from me.

        • JamesB – you are the suppressor. It’s time to evolve. Japanese were interred, they moved on- same for many other racial issues. The more you hang on that as an excuse (for bad behavior, poor effort in school, criminal activity) instead of encouraging productive efforts – the more you suppress AAs and give carte blanche to disregard societal progress.

      • Key word here is “decided”. Since you make a point of telling us that you’re a white woman with a level of education and experiences that would allow you to attain the latte life, I’m sure that you realize that you’ve had the luxury of having choices to make — that people without your resources likely have not. So, assuming ‘compensation’ is an issue, you have nothing that needs to be compensated for.

        • My grandfather was dirt poor and heavily discriminated against at the jobs he worked. But he decided to forgo crime (mafia related – big easy money) and worked his ass into a middle class job. Not $4 lattes, but he’s retired now and comfortable. These punks are making the wrong choice, and they’ll pay for it soon either behind bars or as bitter has-beens.

          • Just imagine how much poorer the grandfather of the kids on these dirtbikes were in comparison to your father. And their grandfathers were racially excluded from many lines of work, so there goes the middle class job option. Step outside of yourself for a moment to recognize your own racial privilege in America.

          • Actually, Alan, he worked with plenty of black people at the post office.
            I understand racial privilege – I’m not trying to say things are / were equal. But that doesn’t mean it’s 100% different either. There are middle class options.
            He also enlisted in the Army, which desegregated much sooner than the rest of the country. Was it equal for black people? Probably still isn’t, but certainly a way to middle class.

    • It looks like fun. Could that be it?

    • Sorry!!! Not an excuse. That is ridiculous rational

    • Spare the liberal clap trap you weasel these idiots are all breaking the law. If they can afford an ATV and a dirt bike they can afford other things too.

      • It’s not liberal, it’s stupid. Plenty of us liberals don’t condone dangerous, reckless behavior or excuse it away.

    • Enabler making excuses for illegal behavior.

    • I get furious at people who dismiss any attempt to make the world a little less inequitable as “PC liberal fascism.” And then I read idiocy like this, and I realize who lets them get away with it.

    • This is a comically unpersuasive “argument.” Sport bikes/crotch rockets are not cheap. The people who ride sport bikes are not, generally speaking, disadvantaged – because they can afford sport bikes.

    • @jamesbeaz: “It’s not rocket science why people “act out” with these rides.”
      It’s certainly possible that all the riders are social activists, making a political statement about the growing equality gap in this country and the effects of gentrification and (re)development.
      It’s also possible that they are simply anti-social hoodlums who just don’t care thet they are breaking the law and endangering innocent people.
      Which do you think is more likely? (Hint: before you answer, look up Occam’s Razor.)

      • +1000 (extra points for reference to Occam’s Razor).

      • Or the answer is a third choice, that they don’t have an articulated motivation, but they are driven by feelings of growing isolation in a city they grew up in that is rapidly changing. There were always poor black people in DC, but the mass bike rides are new. So, what changed? What do you think is “most likely”?

        • If this is the 12 o’clock boys, most didn’t grow up in this city. In any case, if you think it logical that people accept the potentially fatal consequences of this behavior as the inevitable result of gentrification, you’re nuts.

          • you create a false logic to suggest that recognizing why a problem exists equals acceptance of that problem.

          • Fine. But assigning causation entirely to external forces deflects responsibility from the actors, wrongly in my view. That mentality also indicates some acceptance of the behavior.

          • “But assigning causation entirely to external forces deflects responsibility from the actors, wrongly in my view. That mentality also indicates some acceptance of the behavior.”

            No one is assigning causation “entirely to external forces,” that would be absurd (as the bikers themselves are on the bikes). All we’re saying is, if there is an external force playing a role in this occurrence, designing policy that takes the external force into account is smart policy. Willing to bet most of the riders are juveniles. A policy that connects school intervention, social workers, social programs that divert this behavior to more socially acceptable outlets (a dirt bike park? city sponsored competitions? tech school options that teach kids how to build/repair dirt bikes) is a better solution than just locking up 100 plus kids or randomly hoping they get hit by cars. I’m not sure if it’s the 12 O’Clock Boys. Maybe MPD can work with Baltimore PD to ID some of the riders if one or more of them are taken into custody? I’ve seen plenty of dirt bike/ATV riders EOTR right here in DC. Never 100 in one place, but perhaps they’re becoming organized.

          • “A policy that connects school intervention, social workers, social programs that divert this behavior to more socially acceptable outlets (a dirt bike park? city sponsored competitions? tech school options that teach kids how to build/repair dirt bikes) is a better solution than just locking up 100 plus kids or randomly hoping they get hit by cars.” Some good ideas probably worth the effort and expense to try out. 10 years ago I’d have been optimistic that they’d work, but I’ve become a bit more jaded in my age.

          • A dirt-bike park sounds like a good idea.

        • So if all of a sudden these guys went on a murder spree, we could excuse it away as an expression of social injustice? They’re not just a nuisance, they’re endangering lives. There is no excuse.

        • are they new?

        • @Alan: I think it’s most likely that they are anti-social hoodlums who don’t care that they are endangering innocent people, and I think many other posters, and the citizenry at large, agree with me. But even if you’re correct and they are acting out of a sense of displacement and “growing isolation” – so what? Does that make it OK? We should just shrug and say, “well, their lives are tough, so we’ll ignore illegal and, more importantly, unsafe behavior”? I don’t accept that.

    • no, it was pragmatism.
      want a behavior to not exist? figure out why that behavior exists and hit the stem.

      otherwise we just fight symptoms in a rash reactionary way.

    • No one is excluded from anything. Go to school (free), get educated (requires effort and desire), learn to speak english coherently (surprisingly easy), pull your pants up (ditto), get a job and work hard (again, effort, desire, persistence), and blow your money on lattes and brunch.

    • Put that race card back in the deck, bub. I work for a living and can’t afford a $25 brunch on a regular basis, nor would I want to. Maybe they can’t afford the bars, cafes, and brunches because they spent all their money on the dirt bikes they use to terrorize people who have the temerity to live in DC. You know how they can “reoccupy” their city? Can the antisocial behavior, do well in school, and get a fucking JOB where they behave like civilized human beings.

    • I work, pay my bills, obey the law, and love a bottomless brunch AND a latte. Who cares

    • Wow that doesn’t make any sense. We should reward bad behaviour by increasing welfare and taxes etc? I think we should get rid of our lazy ass cops.

    • “Why is this taking place?”

      Um, because it is fun?

    • I agree with your points on inequality and some of your solutions, however, I do not think a bunch of kids hurting themselves and others through dangerous behavior is an especially effective way to address those issues.

  • I saw about 20-30 of them riding up 17th Street SE at around 6-7pm. No helmets, mostly pulling their bikes up on one wheel.

  • This is outrageous. I also witnessed the 8:00 wave going south on 13th street NW and then the flew by again on L st NW a few minutes later. I took a one minute video that shows them riding on sidewalks, riding in the wrong lane, running a red light, not using headlights, not wearing helmets, doing wheelies, surrounding a car and stopping other traffic. That’s one intersection in one minute and about 7 or more laws broken. It’s unacceptable for these scofflaws to terrorize the nations capital or any town or city this way. According to these posts these hoodlums ran amuck terrorizing almost every neighborhood in the city. Use road spikes, use a net, use a snow plow. I don’t care but put a stop to this nonsense now.

  • why can’t they lay down tire-popping strips across the road? or set up some sort of barricade so they all have to stop, then corral and arrest the ones breaking the law? I get not chasing, but if you have helicopters following them and you know where they’re going…?

    • I’m imagining what this would look like in my neighborhood – and I’m having a really hard time imagining this scenario playing out without collateral damage. Reading through this thread is pretty depressing, and not a little frightening.

    • i’m sure MPD would listen to your logistics plan on that.

    • Yeah, spike strips are verboten for the same reason that shooting at a moving car is. You are disabling the car or the driver and rendering the vehicle into a missle. An unguided one at that.

  • Tolerate and incubate and it will grow. We should all email the Chief and demand MPD take action.

  • I saw a group on 14th nearly flatten a lady pushing babby stroller on the sidewalk. What will it take for the police to put an end to this mayhem??

  • There is actually a fairly simple way to deal with these guys: Drones.

    The city should use small drones to follow these bikers until they stop their bikes or run out of gas. Police can then respond to impound the bikes and arrest the offenders.

    Bikers can’t outrun the drones, and this would remove the danger of chasing them on the streets.

    It would be fairly cheap to implement and require a minimum of police resources.

  • “One hit by a car”


  • MPD can not stop them! MPD can not chase them. What would be even more dangerous is MPD trying to “stop,” 100 ATVs and dirt bikes on city streets with pedestrians and traffic. That would be truly dangerous.

  • Does anyone have a better picture of the bike? I just had a black dual sport motorcycle stolen a few weeks ago.

  • So tired of “there’s nothing we can do” BS. Christ, I’m going to start robbing banks and use a dirt bike to get away. Apparently I won’t get caught, ever.
    This group rode by my place yesterday heading north on North Capitol at R. You know what’s just north of there? A location where all these idiots could be boxed in by a simple road block (anon MPD says road blocks have been declared unconstitutional by SCOTUS – he’s wrong). Block off North Cap at Michigan with a few police cars, throw down some spike strips to fill any gaps, and have some cars follow them to block the rear. But, but, that would require effort! And police work! We’d have to plan something like that!
    And for the city council, here’s an idea: $2500 reward for information leading to the arrest of someone operating an illegal dirt bike or ATV in the District. $5000 fine and up to a year in jail for operating a dirt bike or ATV in the District.

  • The whole “no chase” thing is absolute stupidity run amok. We can’t enforce our laws for fear of being sued by the person breaking those laws. It is so insanely ridiculous, it makes my head hurt.

    However, far be it from me to tell MPD that they don’t have to “chase” anyone. Unbreakable rule f law enforcement…”you can’t outrun the radio”. We have a couple thousand officers on duty at any given moment in the city. Are you honestly telling me that you can’t radio ahead and organize some sort of road block?

    • +1 on a road -block or blocking them in

      • FYI, the chase policy covers blocking people in, which is to say that it’s not allowed. So you’re not allowed to block people’s path or try and force them into a stop.

    • They also chase because kids sometimes evade by riding the sidewalk. When your grandma gets killed on the sidewalk by some kid being chased for breaking the 50cc law you’ll the first to sue and say that chasing and endangering the lives of the public over such a small infraction makes your head hurt.

      • You are right, I will be the first to sue, but I would sue the rider and his family. I wouldn’t sue a police force for doing its job, enforcing the laws and protecting the populace. For gods sake people, are we also going to let murderers go because if we pursue them they might decide to take a hostage or shoot someone? Of course not.

        I was on the sidewalk yesterday when this all went down, and those clowns were all over the sidewalk and street. People were literally having to jump and dive out of the way. I can promise you that if I get hit by one of these clowns while the police simply sit there in their cars texting their “boo, I would sue the police department for not doing their damn job. This makes the jay walking ticket I got 3 months ago on H Street (not a car within 3 blocks either direction) even more ridiculous.

        • it’s a bit silly to compare not chasing these guys to not chasing murderers.

          • Except that in this case these individuals are frequently feet or inches away from quickly becoming, although not murderers, vehicular homicide-ers (which is close enough for me, given the nature of the conduct).

      • Sue under what law? I keep seeing references to lawsuits against the police, but last time I checked you could only recover against the police (and other arms of state governments) for certain narrow, clearly established constitutional violations, such as excessive force in violation of the Fourth Amendment. It’s not easy to sue a municipality or state actor and win. Is there a DC law that people are thinking of?

    • The whole “not allowed to chase” is a BS excuse for officer laziness, implying that the only way to catch and prosecute these guys is by chasing them.

      How about using the radio and forming a road block, with a bunch of officers on hand to arrest the riders? Or using the helicopter that’s up there to follow the group safely and then send officers to the homes where the bikes are stored? This isn’t rocket science, and the fact that MPD keeps stating they need more officers while I see officers literally sleeping is ridiculous.

      • If only DC were a city surrounded by rivers, so these guys had to at some point use a tunnel or bridge that could easily be closed off at both ends to box them in.

      • Those officers aren’t sleeping. They’re concentrating on new and innovative crime fighting strategies. Also, I don’t text my “Boo” while working. I’m usually too busy playing Candy Crush.

        Seriously though, everyone wants us to chase. The cops do. The kids on the bikes really do. We would love to tear after dirt bikes. Trust me.

        • Right, the same way you let teen drug and fencing houses in Petworth continue their trade unabated even when you admit you know what they do. You place society at risk while you gather evidence to help with more complex criminal enterprise. Or MPD is just lame and really doesn’t care….

  • And no one took any photos of this group? Odd.

  • Bowser AND Catania are on city council that created the “no chase” policy. Since an election is around the corner, this seems like the perfect opportunity for one or the other to speak up and use this as an example for change.

    • I don’t understand why I haven’t heard of this being reported more? This seems to me to be a huge public safety issue. What’s going on? Am I missing something?

    • Or craft legislation to respond to the issue, since they’re actually serving on a legislative body and want to convince people that they’re the right person to lead the city.

  • Even if the cops could chase, the numbers of these law-breakers they could apprehend would be too small to make a difference. I mean this seriously – the only thing that would make a difference would be if cops could activitate kill switches in cars

  • I see this as a bunch of dudes joyriding. I’ve seen cyclists riding the sidewalk nearly plow down pedestrians. Why so much outrage about these people? Who’s gleeful about another person’s injury???

  • Nobody else thinks this was awesome? Like DC bike party on sterioids

    • If they actually knew how to drive those things without being a complete menace, then maybe I would think of them more positively. But as it stands, I don’t think it’s at all “awesome” that these reckless, irresponsible idiots are now massing in numbers to endanger more people’s safety and lives.

    • Agreed. If it were one or two or a dozen people riding up and down every street, I’d easily concur with finding a way to stop them and give ’em tickets. But, with the nearly 200 or so that I saw going up North Capitol, it was pretty cool to watch – just like all of DC’s social bicycle rides, albeit illegal.

  • There is a way to deal with this: go to your elected representatives. Having the cops pursue these guys may not be the right solution but we can ask our reps to address this situation one way or another. So write your council reps and the mayor. PopVille and other journalists should ask Gray, Bowser and Catania what they intend to do about this. It’s not immediate satisfaction but it’s the best we got.

  • saw them driving around U street…not obeying traffic laws.

  • I was at my son’s baseball game at 14th & Upshur last night and the parade came through. It was loud, kind of cool, but when I saw a couple of people riding dirk bikes on the sidewalks and popping wheelies, that made me nervous. Just few moments before they arrived, there were a bunch of little rids riding tricycles (actual tricycles not motorized ones) and things could have gone terribly wrong.

  • A few notes:

    1) As others have noted, MPD policy specifically prohibits car chases, unless in very limited circumstances. Officers that disregard that policy can face discipline, so it’s self-enforced pretty stringently.

    2) Why is this MPD policy? Because of instances where officers are engaged in a car chase, there is a car crash, someone gets killed or severely injured, they sue the city arguing negligence, it goes to court, and a jury awards the victim a large amount of cash.

    3) Can this policy be changed? Yes, the DC Council could amend the law to create exceptions to the city’s liability when police are engaged in certain types of car chases.

    4) Will the DC Council amend the law? Absolutely not.

    5) Why won’t the DC Council amend the law? Because as was pointed out above by @jamesbeaz, there is a vocal contingent of residents and/or activists who don’t want police resources used to deal with this issue. Marion Barry was on Twitter some months ago ranting about MPD seizing an ATV bike and arresting its driver. Barry was arguing that the police were racist for stopping the sweet, innocent driver who just happened to be driving like a madman, without a helmet, on an illegal vehicle, with no insurance, and with reckless disregard for any human life. So clearly it’s the cops’ fault for arresting the kid and taking his dirt bike.

    6) So the DC Council won’t change the law because of Marion Barry’s tweets? No, the Council won’t change the law because other Councilmembers like Tommy Wells and David Grosso are very adamant about not using police resources in a non-social justice sort of way. Which means that if police were to start arresting dirt bike/ATV drivers on a large scale, that would clearly be anti-social justice because the drivers are overwhelmingly black males. And groups like the ACLU, the Washington Lawyers Committee, and other social justice groups would argue the police department is racist, anti-poor, ant-black males because they’re focusing resources on this issue.

    7) So basically DC residents are screwed because the DC Council will refuse to act on this issue and MPD won’t change its policy without the Council having its back? Yep.

    • Regarding Point 5, it almost seems there is a core contingent in this city who like the idea of innocent people being terrorized by hoodlums. It’s like people straight out of Anthony Burgess’ Clockwork Orange and Lord of the Flies are having sway on our council and in our populace. Sheer madness.

      • More noxious is the idea that our police force, which claims that 77% of the forces is made up by Blacks, is racist. This isn’t Los Angeles.

    • Yep, this.

    • This comment should be saved and resposted every time this subject comes up.

    • “there is a vocal contingent of residents and/or activists who don’t want police resources used to deal with this issue.”

      Where exactly is this vocal contingent? The Popville crowd is pretty reliably liberal, yet there’s barely one voice defending these guys and no one saying the police shouldn’t do anything about it.

      If every single person who commented on this thread wrote their council member, they would do something about it.

      • I wish that were true, but really, it isn’t. There are a lot of people in DC who identify with the riders, and they vote. Plus, in the scheme of importance to the average councilmember, this is of low importance, and not worth making an issue of – they’ll save their political capital for something more important. Of course, this equation will change when, in a mirror image of Bonfire of the Vanities, some 32 yo non profit worker pushing her 6 mo in a stroller is run over.

    • Or, MPD can stop mplying that the only way to catch and prosecute these guys is by chasing them.

      How about using the radio and forming a road block, with a bunch of officers on hand to arrest the riders? Or using the helicopter that’s up there to follow the group safely and then send officers to the homes where the bikes are stored? Many ways to address the problem, but MPD lazily states “too bad, so sad, we can’t chase them.”

    • Regarding point 6: Isn’t public safety–the right to be out on the street without having some maniac run you down–a social justice issue?

    • I’m not sure it’s because there’s thousands of registered voters east of the river who all love riding dirt bikes that the policy is in place. Police departments nationwide have gone to “No Chase” policies. See this article about LAPD from over 10 years ago.

      When Bratton ended chases for non-violent felonies, it ended a whole cottage industry. LA loved their chases. So if LA did it, then it made it harder for other large cities to continue chasing.

      The reality is that this policy won’t be overturned by any Council action, because no politicians are going to go on the record favoring a chance for greater injuries. If you read the article, the ACLU wanted to hold the individual officers responsible for bystander injuries.

    • Pretty much sums it up. And heaven forbid a citizen tries to do anything about the problem unilaterally, even in light of the complete absence of other more preferable alternatives.

  • Is this the dirt bike/four wheeler version of Critical Mass?

  • i think most people who think it would be easy to catch these guys have never ridden a dirt bike, nor do they really know the streets of DC.
    and many of you don’t understand at all the thrill of being chased by a cop. these kids would love to be chased and evade some cops and will drive even more recklessly in doing so. have you seen chases here in DC? it is terrifying and crazy dangerous.

    our best bet for catching these guys is photos and tracking them down later.

    • Agreed with all of the above. I doubt if even 5% of the posters in this thread have ever operated a motorcycle, ATV, or quad. They are extremely maneuverable; you can easily evade any road block or spike strip. If cops blocked off the road, kids would drive down the sidewalk, across lawns, and through backyards and alleys to escape and thus create even more hazards to pedestrians. And I guarantee that ANYONE in this thread injured by a motorcyclist that was being chased by a cop would sue MPD and the city first. You know that the kid and his family have no money. Plenty of smart lawyers & young professionals on PoP’ville know where the money is.
      There’s a whole lot of ignorance in here. The best bet is taking photos and tracking them down later, perhaps with drones (even then, these bikes can go 200 miles before needing a fill-up). Investigating the source of the bikes and apprehend them when they are at home or the bikes are in storage. All of which the MPD is already (quietly) doing.

  • I feel just as strongly about the “bike parties.”

  • MPDC should have had a plan to deal with this.

  • I don’t know, While I don’t like this stuff it doesn’t bother me that much. It’s kids being stupid but only affects me briefly, if at all. I’d rather these Hoodlums were running around on their bikes then roaming in packs, mugging people or breaking car windows indiscrimnately – which has also happened in this city. if it keeps growing then people will probably get hurt and the MPD policy will have to adjust. For now if you hear the sound of rumbling thunder with clear skies just get ready to dodge out of the way and take a video to send to popville.

  • If only there was a way for these poor disadvantaged people to ride street legal dirt bikes with proper registrations and motorcycle endorsements… Am I the only person who sees the white elephant? There is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING stopping any one of these riders from getting a motorcycle endorsement for their DC DL and riding a street legal bike. Almost every one of these bikes is a few minor changes from being street legal.

    These point should really remove any argument of racial profiling, gentrification, and need for fun. Furthermore, this is the EXACT point made by one of the riders in the Post article last year. The idea that this is anything other than people breaking the law is preposterous.

    Get a license, register your bike, GO RIDE. If the cops start harrassing legally taged bikes, THEN we deal with the issue.

    • Here’s another idea. If your bike is street legal, you can ride it to places where you can do whatever you want without running into parked cars, telephone poles, or traffic (incedently these are items of urban fabric that have killed illegal riders in the last year)

      Guess what, there are actaully groups organized around the idea that we need more places to ride. Some of these places are within a 30 minute drive from DC. So there you have it, you can ride in the city, you can ride in the country, you can ride TO the country and back to the city. See where I’m going with this? It is really easy to do this . It does not NEED to be illegal.

      Get on your bike, get out of the city, and ride.

      • I think most of these bikes aren’t street legal (at least in the District), though.

        • yea, to be completely fair, ATV’s and quads are only street legal in some backwoods counties and eastern europe. But the desire to ride these on the street is questionable considering that they are in no way ever intended for street use. Kind of like complaining that I can’t use my canoe on 14th.
          Just about any of these 2 wheeled dirt bikes have street legal versions. The typical term is Enduro or the more modern Dual Sport. The small Chinese made toy bikes even make street legal versions in the moped sized 49cc.
          Here’s a couple links.

          For the guy who wants to take their bitchen dirt bike and turn it into a streeter. Done.

      • Because the appeal for these hoodlums is exactly what they’re doing. If they don’t have the audience of people jumping out of their way and cars screeching to halts and police following at a polite distance, they don’t get the rush. And they don’t care about a legal registration option, b/c one of their strategies now if they get boxed in is to just drop the bike and run, knowing it can’t be traced to them.
        So creating motorbike courses outside the city might be great for some kids and a few of these guys might go there sometimes, but it won’t have any impact at all on these street rides.

        • Sure, but my point is the only reason to do this is to participate in an exhilirating illegal action. It’s not about riding a bike in the street, or riding a bike, or not having anywhere to ride, or not being able to get to a place to ride.

  • As an upper-income, highly-educated black man, I have more reason than anyone to see this “element” excised from the community. Not only do I have to put up with the public nuisance, but also must bear the brunt to the resulting reinforcement of stereotypes. What a great life I have.

    • + 1000. It’s even worse if you have kids. As a middle class black guy, I can’t live in H Street, Petworth, Shaw, or any other gentrifying area because my kids are 10,000 times more likely to get harassed or ensnared by these “elements” than white kids.

  • I would imagine that a lot of these riders have smart phones and social media accounts. If they are anything like the folks who got into fights at the zoo the other month, they probably have posted photos or video or something about what they were up to. It cannot be that difficult to find the accounts of those posting photos/videos, link the accounts to the mobile devices being used, finding the mobile carriers, and then the billing addresses (unless burner phones were being used). Boom.

  • If only a presidental motorcade was in the same proximity as the dirt bikes. What a helter-skelter mess that would have been.

  • The comments on this post pretty much define echo chamber. For all of you so angered and upset by all this, I hope you’re using some of that energy to write to your council members and the media. Otherwise you’re just going to become even more frustrated and we’re going to have a moment of deja vu 11-12 months from now.

  • Anastasia Beaverhausen

    It’s good to know I don’t need to register my scooter – apparently all I have to do is not stop when the police try to pull me over to write me a ticket.

  • Clearly, we need footage. Pictures, and footage that can be placed in front of MPD officials and city council members, and the media, with the repeated question, “Why can’t anything be done?”

  • I watched at least 100, quads, dirt bikes, and motorcycles drive down I street in SW (right behind the 1st District Police station…cops did nothing) It took well over 4 minutes for al of them to cross through the intersection of 6th and I SW (disregarding any and all traffic laws in the process).

    I’m glad one of them got hit….

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