SBY City Council aims to crack down on dirt bikes wreaking “havoc” on busy roadways
SALISBURY, Md. – Dirt bikes speeding, lane splitting, popping wheelies, and putting other drivers at risk on busy roads; it’s an issue that motorists in Salisbury have been dealing with for years.
Considering An Ordinance
“The issue is that it’s not just like one or two people riding a dirt bike. It’s sometimes seven, eight, nine, ten. They’re dirt bikes, trikes, four wheelers,” said Salisbury City Council member Muir Boda. “To some extent, they don’t have any regard. They’re not stopping at stop signs, they’re not stopping at red lights sometimes. It’s causing problems in neighborhoods where people are out walking their dogs, trying to cross the street.”
Now, Salisbury City Council is looking at ways they can tackle the issue. “Every year they pop up – another group of them. You get one group, and then the next year there’s another group. So, it’s just something we have to be constant about,” said Boda. “We want to provide some extra tools to law enforcement, to make it a bit more punitive.”
Riding dirt bikes is already prohibited by Maryland state law. However, those “extra tools” could come in the form of a city ordinance. Boda says it would help law enforcement to crack down on those operating the motor bikes dangerously, and illegally. “It provides a seizure mechanism through warrants, through the courts. It also has a maximum of a $1,000 fine, and a potential of 90 days in jail,” he said.
Salisbury’s potential ordinance would be modeled after one already in effect in Baltimore. “If one municipality has already done it, then they’ve already done all of the background research to make sure that it conforms to state law,” said Boda.
“It’s complete havoc,”
Meanwhile, local law enforcement says complaints about the motor bikes have been pouring in recently. “It’s complete havoc for law abiding citizens. Nobody wants to be riding down the road with their families in the car, and have a motorcycle coming up towards them, or up behind them on one wheel,” said Wicomico County Sheriff Mike Lewis.
When the dirt bikes are spotted and reported to police, it leaves law enforcement with a difficult decision; whether or not to engage in a dangerous, and potentially deadly, pursuit for the sake of a misdemeanor charge. “When they flee, they shoot in between houses, they go up on sidewalks, they operate very recklessly and lawlessly,” said Sheriff Lewis. “We have to weigh the seriousness of the violation versus public safety. Public safety will always win over minor violations.”
Sheriff Lewis says the dangerous driving isn’t just a safety issue. “They’re operating without registration plates, without a driver’s license, without insurance on these motorcycles,” he said. “Most of the bikes that are on the road are stolen. Not all of them, but most of them. When we get them, they’re going to have to prove ownership or they’re not getting it back, bottom line.”
Plus, Boda says the problem doesn’t stop at Salisbury city limits. Because of this, city officials and law enforcement across the county are working together to put a stop to the situation. “We have to partner with Fruitland, Delmar, the Sheriff’s Office, and Maryland State Police, because they hit all those roads, and it’s not just a city issue. It’s an area issue,” said Boda.
Sheriff Lewis says the activity is on the up tick in other parts of the county, like Parsonsburg and Pittsville. He believes it is the same group of people zipping through Salisbury. The Sheriff adds, until a city ordinance is passed, his deputies will do everything they can to end the reckless riding, and protect law abiding drivers. “I don’t have any sympathy for these outlaw bikers, at all,” said Sheriff Lewis. “The community is fed up with it. When the community is fed up with it, we’re fed up with it.”