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Dear PoPville – Tons of ATVs and Dirt Bikes in Columbia Heights

by Prince Of Petworth — February 25, 2013 at 11:17 am 52 Comments

Dear PoPville,

I saw about 40-60 ATVs and dirt bikes cruising through Columbia heights Sunday afternoon. It was pretty amazing, loud and obnoxious. Kind of like a DC version of Sons of Anarchy. I’m wondering if anyone saw the same “parade” on Sunday, got any pictures and if this is a new kind of DC gang that I am not aware off.

  • They came up through the I-395 tunnel onto NY Avenue NW. They caused a massive traffic jam, drove over the grassy hill on the right side of I-395 north. It was cool but also very dangerous (man, I sound old). One MPD cruiser was sitting at 4th and New York but was powerless to do anything, even when one guy on an ATV stopped in the middle to block cars so that the rest of the parade could get through the gridlocked automobiles.

  • georgetowner

    I saw them roar across Key Bridge into Virginia, with a cop car doing a U-turn back into Georgetown right behind them, as if the police had escorted them to the border and nudged them into a different jurisdiction. It looked and sounded like a bunch of guys on overgrown lawnmowers.

  • I think it might be an extension of the off-road crews that cruise in Baltimore.


  • LOL

    I can almost bet you $$$ that 99.9% of those atvs and dirt bikes are stolen…..

    btw: did’nt last year DC past a law about requiring these type of vehichles etc be registered and have license plates? Yet NO police pulled these guys over?

    • NO

      It’s impossible to register an ATV and most dirt bikes because they do not have tail lights or turning signals.

  • I live at 50th and East Capitol and we often have ATV’s speeding up and down our street at all hours. They do wheelies and make a lot of noise. I’m not sure if these are the same folks. I’ve never seen this many before and in this video at least they seem a lot less noisy and obnoxious.

  • Anonymous

    So this group paraded through DC, running red lights and ignoring traffic/pedestrians and the cops didn’t make an attempt to stop them?

  • New DC Resident

    So from the comments, I guess

    Rolling Thunder (Harleys) = Good
    ATV/Dirt Bikes = Bad

    LOL please explain why you would think “I can almost bet you $$$ that 99.9% of those atvs and dirt bikes are stolen…..”

    • Anonymous

      I think you’re confusing good and bad with legal and illegal. The difference being Rolling Thunder gets a permit.

    • Anonymous

      The harley drivers also don’t drive so unsafely — cutting off traffic, driving wheelies, etc.

      • New to DC

        I must be looking at the wrong Rolling Thunder, because every year, I see them doing all the illegal things mentioned above from the ATV/Dirt Bike.

        But its all good, if they put an american flag on back of the bike. lol

    • LOL

      It is nothing new/unheard of thiefs going out to the surburbs and stealing atvs/dirtbikes and bring them back into the city. In the summer time they run these things around the neighborhoods basically riding them into the ground/trashing them. Try walking down your sidewalk and out of no where here comes darting down in front of you riding one of these things, or watching them speed through the alleys.

      So I’ll stand by my comment, 99.9% of them are probably stolen….This has been a popular thing to do in every city I’ve lived in…

      • Anonymous

        As soon as you can provide empirical evidence I will stand by your 99.9% statement. I know the three people in my family have all purchased their ATV’s legally. We go out to a park out in MD to ride them. I don’t like riding them in the city.

    • I guess you really are New to DC?

  • Anonymous

    Half-assed reenactment of DMX’s “Ruff Rydas Anthem” music video?

  • I just moved up from Baltimore and we have these guys all over the city. Any given warm afternoon in the city you could hear them running all through the streets and between buildings. Cops can’t pull them over since there is so many of them and they can fit between cars and go off road. Pretty awesome as I’ve always found them to be harmless just a nuicance. Before living in Baltimore I moved down from the country and we basically did the same thing in Northern MD. They just want attention…


    • BP

      Please move back to Baltimore…

      Or realize that you’re no longer living in a third world city…

      We should all hope that Baltimore-style deviancy and lawlessness doesn’t take root here!

      • Ha. Clearly you haven’t been reading many of the posts on this forum. Or lived here long enough to see that it’s just as dangerous as any other city. I would put Baltimore above DC in more than one respect, not to mention the amount of liberals and government funding leeches here.

  • I wonder if one biker did this if they would get a ticket.
    The message MPD is sending is break the law in massive groups and we don’t care.
    I hate these things regardless if they are on the street on on a dirt track – pull them over and arrest/ticket these idiots!

  • houseintherear

    They’ve come down Rhode Island Ave in the past (probably the same group, but I can’t be sure of course). Unfortunately they run red lights at top speed and ignore crossing pedestrians. Rolling Thunder have police escorts who help manage traffic- these are just kids (I’m guessing from out of the city, but who knows) and they don’t give an eff. It’s scary!

    Shame on the police for not even attempting to stop them.

  • Anonymous


  • Stop them? How?? Chase them? Some innocent person gets hit by them or the police in pursuit and you all whining about the po po not doing anything would be the first to say, why were the police chasing them?! What’s the big deal?! An innocent person was… injured/ killed… For what?! Don’t the po po have better things to do??

    Can’t win!

    • b-dub

      Wow. Using that rationale, the cops should probably never do anything to stop crime. This is very dangerous behavior. do you think they would stop if they hit someone while running red lights? I started out on dirt bikes when I was ten and have been riding for 30 years. I was also hit on my motorcycle last year while sitting at a red light in RI Ave and the driver left me for dead in the intersection, but god forbid the cops would have tried to chase him as he might have done more harm in the process. You can take your argument to some very ridiculous conclusions.

  • Anonymous

    I’m not trying to get anyone hot and bothered here, just wondering what people think police would do, given that it’s either policy or practice not to chase these guys – what would police do if someone was hit by one of these guys in a hit-and-run?

  • Anonymous

    So to those that think the police should ignore the riders because of the risk to bystanders, aren’t you also arguing the police should ignore the risk to bystanders like pedestrians and other drivers? So what would be your opinion if one of the pedestrians in the video was run down? That the police should still ignore them since chasing them or pulling them over increases the risk?

  • It’s the Hillbilliez4Life gang, well known for trafficikng meth and making love to their sheep.

  • My understanding is that these vehicles (both ATVs and dirt bikes) are so dangerous to the rider (not to mention pedestrians) that it’s police policy not to give chase, and that’s why gangs are more likely to ride these. It doesn’t look good when an 18 year old gets chased by the police, dies, and the police was only trying to pull him over for driving a vehicle without a turn signal.

    I don’t remember where I heard that, so apply appropriate salt.

  • jaybird

    I saw them on Reservoir Rd. and Macarthur Blvd. at 5p.m. or so. Erratic and chaotic are two words that come to mind. And maybe aimless.

  • Saw them outside the Giant on 14th, completely disregarding all traffic laws.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t understand the logic of not pulling them over/stopping the group. Traffic laws like lanes and traffic signs/lights are designed to improve safety and lessen the risk for those using the road, right? But, its safer to let dozens of riders without helmets, turn signals, etc. ignore all the rules of the road?

    • Anonther

      And it’s not like these violations were within the realm of the normal scoff law (5 miles over speed limit, turning right on red when there’s a sign but no traffic, etc.). What I saw was super, super dangerous for others on the road (drivers, pedestrians) and should not be given a free pass.

    • Anonymous

      How exactly does the police pull over or stop a large group of people on dirt-bikes and ATVs? (Before you answer, remember that the group has already demonstrated that they don’t care about the law, that they can maneuver through traffic much more quickly than cars can, and that they can change direction or even disperse very quickly.)

      • Anonymous

        That is exactly the type of tactical question that Chief Lanier and her team should be asking themselves so that pedestrians and drivers who are following the law don’t have to feel like they just entered a Mad Max movie.

  • anon

    if they are going to go into a tunnel or over a bridge, that seems like a pretty good place for police to lay down some spike strips across both ends of the tunnel/bridge and put this BS to a stop. These idiots occasionally race through my neighborhood (Eckington) and it’s only a matter of time before some innocent person gets killed by them.

    • Hahahaha!!! Lay down spike strips. This isn’t Smokey and the Bandit. This is a city with lots of traffic, pedestrians, allies, one way streets, etc….. These clowns have the upper hand both in the limited response by law enforcement can provide and their ability to get away… getting chased would only endanger other people and give these clowns an additional thrill…

      To the poster that mentioned these clowns hitting a pedestrian and the police not enforcing that crime… BS! Then the crime wouldn’t be operating an unauthorized motor vehicle $1000 fine. It would be felony hit and run. A much more substantial crime.

      DC has a NO CHASE policy! Po po can only chase for violent felonies and even THEN there are limits… and a superior officer/ watch commander can call of the chase for a violent felon too. Reason behind it is…. better to get a warrant then push an already aggressive situation, thus causing innocent bystanders to get hurt, seriously injured, or killed.

      I myself would be contacting the best law firm possible if my loved one was killed while the po po were chasing some ass clown riding an ATV through our beloved city…

      Bottom line…. We need better legal tools to confront this issue. The po po chasing these clowns through a busy city is not the solution.

      • Anonther

        And you can be sure I’d be filing a suit if my loved one was killed or injured by these a__hats while the cops just sat and watched them go by.

        I understand the problem of escalating things by chasing and how elusive these ATVs can be compared to a cop car. I myself don’t know what the best solution is, but we pay Chief Lanier and her colleagues very handsome salaries to figure out how to stop this reckless and dangerous behavior.

  • b-dub

    Yes, we saw them. Some of them were driving the wrong way down a one-way. Another stopped traffic in our lane during a green light so that more of them could run the red and keep up. Most of the bikes and all of the quads I saw were not street legal. Of course, the most frustrating part of all was that they all drove right past a DC cop who made absolutely no attempt to stop or apprehend any of them. He turned right on Georgia and went about his business.

  • dophie

    I saw them riding down the wrong side of M St in Georgetown. I also saw a few police cars chasing them, one with its sirens on. But realistically what could the cops do?

    It was crazy! Reminded me of the California Love video by 2Pac.

  • Los

    Shoot to kill, ask questions later. If these hoodlums have complete disregard for other people and the law, then I think it is perfectly fine for the police to shoot to kill. Police have killed people for far less.

    • novatronic

      Domestic drones would be very useful in this sort of situation.

  • dreas

    Yep, I saw these guys crossing 13th on Park Rd around 5:15pm yesterday. Several of them blocked traffic on 13th after the light had changed so the rest of the group could keep up. I had the same thoughts as everyone else: aren’t ATVs and dirt bikes prohibited on streets? Why isn’t MPD doing anything about that, or the red-light running? Made worse by the fact that I saw an MPD officer sitting at the intersection of 13th and Monroe, one block away, doing absolutely nothing.

  • anon

    as others have said, this is nothing new. I’ve seen this in Baltimore, Philly and a lot in uptown Manhattan. Not much cops can do unfortunately but they are a traffic menace.

  • anon

    Here is a perfect example on how the cops can’t do anything.


    cops in a cruiser are no match to a dirt bike weaving through traffic.

    I will say this guy does have skills…

    • Anon

      Wow, that was nuts! I was waiting for one of these guys to eat pavement and split their head open.

      Crazy riding skills, but EXTREMELY dangerous to ride in Manhattan like that. Not cool.

  • Anonymous

    Columbia Heights Village frequently has chopped dirt bike/atv/scooter stashed behind the townhouses.

  • michael

    You are especially full of “White guy in the city” posts today.

  • Anonymous

    Sorry I missed this… it sounds like an awesome spectacle. Haters gonna hate… as far as I’m concerned, DC needs more of this shit. This city has the emotions and excitement of cold, middle-aged mother of four in a sexless marriage with government accountant.

    • Anonymous

      Exactly my thoughts. DC is so boring and uptight I’m just happy with any kind of excitement at this point. Bring it on boys, be careful for pedestrians and have some fun!

  • Anonymous

    Would u rather have them running around shooting and selling drugs they are having fun in their own way it takes skills to do Wht they do. And don’t make it abt race either its just their way of having fun period.

  • Anonymous

    Saw them on the way home from rehearsal Sunday going south 14th past K in NW. They took up both sides of the road, completely surrounding my car and passed around it. They weaved in between traffic and around a bus picking up passengers. I heard the thunder and caught them in my rearview before they reached so I literally just stopped, put on my hazards and waited for them to pass around me. Quite dangerous. But if I’d be thinking really recklessly I’d have had my passengers open their doors. They were so close to my car going around me they would have hit the door and been knocked off.

  • This a pretty old thread but this trailer from SXSW for a documentary on ATV’s and dirt bikes made me think of some of the points brought up in the thread below. The documentary is called “12 O’Clock Boys” – Some explicit language peppered in there – FYI.



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