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Pittsburgh Police Crack Down On ATVs, Dirt Bikes, On City Streets

Katie Blackley
90.5 WESA

It’s illegal to drive all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes on city streets. But Pittsburgh Police claim last summer large groups were often roving through neighborhoods. Now local law enforcement is vowing to, “Put an end to these dangerous and disruptive ride-outs in the city.”

In a release issued Tuesday, Pittsburgh Police said groups of ATVs, dirt bikes and other off-road vehicles have been taking over roadways, driving along sidewalks and in many cases going the wrong direction down the street.

“Participants in these so–called 'flash mobs' or 'ride-outs' are now taking their actions to alarming new heights in the City of Pittsburgh, with as many as 50 to 200 riders roving through neighborhoods at any given time, disobeying traffic rules,” the bureau said.

“It is just a matter of time before this irresponsible behavior leads to a serious injury or death either of the rider, or to an innocent pedestrian or motorist in Pittsburgh,” said Pittsburgh Public Safety director Wendell Hissrich.

Last summer, one rider was injured. Police said a dirt bike rider was driving through a bicycle lane when he clipped a turning vehicle and was thrown from his dirt bike onto the back of a parked car.

The phenomenon of off-road vehicles in city streets is happening across the country, according to the bureau. In New York City, an ATV rider was struck and killed by another vehicle when he drove into a crosswalk against a red light in September.

Large groups of off-road vehicles were spotted in neighborhoods all over the city last summer. These group rides, sometimes referred to as “ride-outs” are often planned by word of mouth or through social media.

The group rides have continued to pop up throughout the city.

Pittsburgh Police issued eight citations and towed two vehicles from a group ride event in the last week. One of those citations stemmed from a traffic stop where police report a dirt-bike rider was driving the wrong way on North Beatty Street.

The bureau said it will collaborate with other public safety officials to address the issue by investigating and enforcing laws pertaining to off-road vehicles.  

“We cannot address this problem alone and we are asking for the public’s help to put an end to these dangerous and disruptive ride-outs in the City,” said Pittsburgh Police Commander Eric Holmes.

The public can submit tips about planned group rides and information about off-road vehicles in the city to an email address created by police: 412_TIPS@pittsburghpa.gov. 

Kiley Koscinski covers city government, policy and how Pittsburghers engage with city services. She also works as a fill-in host for All Things Considered. Kiley has previously served as a producer on The Confluence and Morning Edition.
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