LE bringing hammer down on stunt riders on public streets

LE bringing hammer down on stunt riders on public streets

Posted by Ben Baker on Feb 28th 2016

The problem of sport bike and off road riders getting on public roads to do risky stunts is getting worse.

The most recent incident to draw national attention happened in mid-February in Las Vegas. The Metro Police Department was kept busy on Sunday, Feb. 21, trying to catch sport bike riders doing stunts throughout Sin City.

Exactly how many riders were involved is not known, but some estimates say it could have been hundreds. It’s also not known if all the Sunday stunts were part of a coordinated effort by sport bike riders. At least some were bikers riding together.

Vegas, especially in the tourist parts of town, is packed with pedestrians and vehicles, making stunt riding even more of a threat.

"There is not much we can do because it could cause safety problems for them, us and motorists," said Metro Lt. Jeff Goodwin. "We have been working behind the scenes to try and deal with it."

This kind of ride and rider are found across the US. “They are fast and loud - sometimes alone, sometimes in packs - high-performance sport bike riders that some people call ‘crotch rockets.’ Converging on highways typically after dark, performing risky stunts, buzzing motorists and taunting police. Videotaping their hobby all for fun and fame while risking their lives and others,” says a report from a Chicago TV news crew.

"Most of us who are doing stunts practice before we take to a street like Lake Shore Drive. We're going maybe 50 mph or maybe 60 tops. To call us criminals and label us as felons, the punishment really doesn't fit the crime," said Chicago stunt rider Tony Recchia.

The same Chicago report has this chilling rejoinder to Mr. Recchia’s statement, “Just last month during a horrific accident, 20-year-old Charles Lyons was charged with reckless homicide after police say he hit two pedestrians with his sport motorcycle in a Lake Shore Drive crosswalk. Lyons was accused of weaving through traffic, killing a 25-year-old German tourist and seriously injuring a 40-year-old man.”

Rolling on just the back tire is one thing. A report in The Washington Post says some riders were actually going the wrong way down roads. "Motorists caught in Sunday’s free-for-all described a brazen throng, with riders on the Beltway’s inner loop popping wheelies, taking selfies and laying so much rubber that plumes of smoke billowed from the asphalt as if fires had been set up and down the road,” said the article.

In some places, such activities are organized. In South Florida, at least one event was an organized protest against law enforcement. Bikes Up Guns Down in Miami “was initially orchestrated through an intense online grass-roots movement created in part as a peaceful but rowdy protest over the mysterious shooting death of renowned Philadelphia biker Kyrell Tyler,” says The Miami Herald report. At least one rider suffered a critical head injury during the ride.

In some places, the riders appear to be taunting law enforcement. This video given to an Albuquerque TV station shows a rider in front of a State Police officer. The same report says this kind of riding “is unfortunately somewhat common.”

Popping wheelies may be legal in some places, but sport bike riders who do these kinds of stunts on public roads are convincing lawmakers to make it illegal. It’s been illegal in Illinois for years.

Reckless driving, which can be a catchall citation, is still an offense in all states.