A large pack of people driving ATVs, dirt bikes and motorcycles took over roadways in Dayton and other local communities on at least two weekends this month, performing “wheelies,” running red lights and stop signs and openly flouting other traffic laws during long rides that resulted in multiple calls to 911 from concerned motorists.
“There are 50 to maybe 100 four-wheelers, ATVs and dirt bikes ... it looks like they’re going through the city (of Dayton),” an off-duty Dayton police officer told a 911 dispatcher on the afternoon of Sunday, Sept. 3. “They’re kind of driving recklessly and they’re causing a back-up in traffic.”
Regional dispatch 911 logs also show that last weekend people reported that four-wheelers and motor bikes were driven dangerously through Dayton, with riders speeding, running red lights and doing illegal tricks.
Some city officials say these kinds of dangerous driving behaviors are unacceptable and have no place on local roadways.
“This type of reckless activity is dangerous for those involved, motorists using the roadway and nearby pedestrians,” said Dayton Mayor Jeffrey Mims Jr. “Operating ATVs on public roadways is already illegal in Ohio, however, it’s clear that it’s time to implement more serious penalties for these incidents at the state and local level.”
A YouTube video uploaded by one of the riders shows ATVs, dirt bikes and motorcycles driving in the opposing lanes of traffic, sometimes narrowly avoiding oncoming vehicles.
Some riders illegally drove on sidewalks, and many popped wheelies and did other dangerous stunts.
On Sunday Sept. 3, over Labor Day weekend, dozens of ATVs, dirt bikes and motorcycles met up and drove through various parts of Dayton and some nearby suburbs, like Trotwood and Harrison Twp.
At about 3 p.m., a woman called 911 regional dispatch to report that there were around 30 to 40 quads, dirt bikes and motorcycles riding west along Shoup Mill Road, near North Main Street.
“They’re riding on the street, they’re riding on the sidewalks, they’re driving between the cars,” the female caller said. “Somebody’s going to get hurt is what’s going to happen.”
The YouTube video shows one group of ATV and dirt bike riders head north on Rosedale Drive in the Southern Dayton View neighborhood and continue on Catalpa Drive, driving through mostly residential neighborhoods.
They then joined a large group of motorcycles and bikes and traveled west on Shoup Mill Road, near Riverside Drive.
Many bike and ATV riders busted wheelies, and some riders did this with only one hand on the handle bars or with one foot on the back of their vehicles. Some bikes and ATVs drove on the wrong side of the road while doing wheelies and other stunts.
A Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office spokesperson said regional dispatch received calls about this group of riders for Dayton and Trotwood police and Harrison Twp. The spokesperson said a deputy was dispatched in Harrison Twp. could not locate the riders.
A female motorist told 911 dispatch that bikes were running people off the road on Salem Avenue and cutting off motorists and she said she did not understand why police weren’t there to stop these activities.
“It’s ridiculous,” she said in the 911 call.
The bikes and four-wheelers impeded traffic and forced other vehicles to pull over or stop in the middle of the road.
One caller told dispatch that cars were stuck in the intersection because four-wheelers, dirt bikes and motorcycles were blocking traffic. She also said someone kicked her vehicle while driving by.
An off-duty Dayton police officer told regional dispatch that there were at least 100 ATVs, dirt bikes and motorcycles on Interstate 75 that were impacting traffic and driving recklessly.
Last weekend, multiple people called 911 dispatch to report that they saw four-wheelers, dirt bikes and motorcycles doing tricks and speeding through Dayton, including on East Third Street, Brown Street and Webster Street.
On Sunday evening, one caller told a dispatcher that as many as 40 ATVs were holding up traffic and taking up the roadway on East Third Street, near Smithville Road.
Callers told dispatch that riders were doing wheelies, crossed over traffic lanes, ran red lights, didn’t use turn signals and many vehicles did not have license plates.
It is generally illegal to ride dirt bikes and ATVs on city streets, unless they are licensed and registered with the state.
The Dayton Daily News sent the Dayton Police Department questions about this incident and these kinds of street takeover activities.
In response, a Dayton police spokesperson said only that regional dispatch received a couple of calls that seemed to be related to the Sept. 3 incident.
The spokesperson also said that it’s clear from the YouTube video that this occurred not just in Dayton but other communities and many of the people in the video clearly stated they were not from this area.
The police department did not answer a variety of questions this newspaper asked about what it tries to do to prevent these kinds of activities.
A spokesperson for the Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office said behaviors like these not only put the lives of those directly involved at risk but they also present substantial dangers to fellow road users and pedestrians.
“There is simply no justification for anyone to be driving in such a reckless and dangerous manner,” the spokesperson said. “If you come across these reckless drivers, remain calm and avoid aggressive behavior as it can escalate the situation. Maintain a safe distance and when safe to do so, contact your local police department to report this activity.”
Dayton City Manager Shelley Dickstein and other city officials since early 2022 have strongly condemned what they called automotive “circus acts” that have been going on around the city, including along Gettysburg Avenue.
The city installed speed humps and other traffic calming devices on Gettysburg to try to prevent speeding, burnouts, donuts and other dangerous driving behaviors.