Police come up with a plan for off-road vehicles on city streets
March 9, 2021
In 2020, the City of Pittsburgh began witnessing large numbers of unlawful, off-road vehicles such as ATV's and dirt bikes riding recklessly on city streets, taking over roadways and intersections, driving on sidewalks and, in many cases, even driving the wrong direction.
Major cities across the country have also been experiencing the same issues associated with these illegal vehicles, sometimes with deadly consequences. Last September in New York City, an ATV rider was struck and killed by an SUV when he drove into a crosswalk against a red light. Two years ago another rider lost an eye during a collision.
In Pittsburgh last summer, a dirt bike rider driving in a bicycle lane on Liberty Avenue was injured when he clipped a turning vehicle and was thrown from his dirt bike onto the back of a parked car.
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. Just two weeks ago in the city, police issued eight citations and towed two vehicles from a ride-out event.
One of those citations stemmed from a traffic stop where a dirt-bike rider was driving the wrong way toward police on N. Beatty Street. These all-terrain vehicles are not designed to be driven on public roads and they pose a serious danger to the general public, law enforcement, and to the illegal riders themselves.
"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 Public Safety Director, Wendell Hissrich.
As a result, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police, in collaboration with its regional law enforcement partners, has devised a comprehensive operational plan to address this issue. The three-pronged response will focus on the following:
Education and community outreach
Law enforcement collaboration
Investigation and enforcement
As part of the investigative process, the Pittsburgh Bureau of Police and its law enforcement partners will utilize any available technology to stop these unauthorized vehicles from driving on city streets.
"Police want people to enjoy their ATV's and dirt bikes, but to do so in a legal and safe way. 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 Pittsburgh Bureau of Police has created an email address for the public to provide information and tips to Police. Emails can be sent to: 412_TIPS@pittsburghpa.gov.
The Pittsburgh Bureau of Police ask everyone to dial 9-1-1 in an emergency.