Mayor pushes back at claim that dirt bikes, ATVs are 'DC street culture'

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser shot down claims that illegal dirt bike and ATV riding is part of "D.C. Street Culture."

VIDEO: Dozens of dirt bikes, quads spotted riding around National Mall

This comes as more all-terrain vehicles were spotted in the District this weekend. One recent social media post claims a group of illegal riders almost struck a person on H St. Northeast. Video posted online shows an all-terrain vehicle hopping a curb and driving down a D.C. city sidewalk.

It is not illegal to own an all-terrain vehicle. However, they are illegal to ride on city streets. D.C. police also has a no chase policy that can prohibit them from pursing illegal riders. 

While this is an ongoing debate and issue in the District, the recent activity has sparked new conversations about how dangerous the ATV/dirt bike riding culture is in the city. A few activists also defend it.

READ MORE: Woman killed in shooting while riding ATV in Charles County

There are some who believe if city leaders can make room for bike lanes, they can make room for these vehicles. Those activist claim this riding part of DC street culture and part of the "Bikes up, guns down" violence-prevention effort. 

"I don’t know why we would say that this is DC culture because I see it all over the place. I see it in Maryland. I see it on the beltway. Are they saying this is part of Maryland culture? I also see that’s also where a lot of the dirt bikes are coming from," said Mayor Muriel Bowser to a question about this on Monday.

Neighborhood stakeholders tell FOX 5 the arteries connecting DC to Maryland are where they see some of the most illegal riding activity. 

Alabama Avenue Southeast was definitely mentioned, along with Rhode Island Avenue. Near Alabama and Branch Avenues, neighbors say they see these riders speeding, blowing red lights, blocking traffic and performing tricks on their vehicles. A neighborhood leader told FOX 5 she is most concerned about the young children she sometimes sees riding on the back of the illegal vehicles. 

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"If anything summer’s coming, it’s going to get far worse. They’re going to do more and more and as long as they’re able to do it and not be stopped by any provisions what so ever. They know that and they’re going to continue to do that," said Donna Robinson, ANC Commissioner for 7B05. 

An Southeast neighbor who asked not to be identified told FOX 5 the "DC culture" argument is fine until it impacts public safety. "Of course it’s a safety concern. I got grandkids," said Ronald, who left out his last name, "This ain’t like way out in Virginia where you’re way out in the woods, this is a congested area."

"They want to be on the street causing havoc showing people what they can do. So that would be my only solution, is put them in the woods, but I don’t even think if you put a path in the woods, you’re not going to ride in the woods," said Alethea Wilson. 

"We have found some success in going after the bikes and having people tell us here the illegal dirt bikes are," said Mayor Bowser, referring to the DC Police "Bonus to Phone Us: Off Road" initiative, where if you call in the police tip line with the whereabouts of an illegal ATV or dirt bike and that vehicle gets confiscated the caller can receive a $250 reward. 

D.C. Police say no ATVs or dirt bikes were confiscated this weekend, but they have made at least six illegal dirt bike/ATV arrests from the beginning of the year to May 14th. D.C. Police also said they had 26 of these arrests last year, 50 in 2019 and 57 in 2018. 

Area police departments are already planning to beef-up patrols for Memorial Day Weekend.