The illegal dirt bike gangs of Baltimore


By Viktor Jósa

 There is a dirt bike gang movement going on in Baltimore not so far from the Main Campus.

Loud dirt bikers rolling through the streets of Baltimore doing dangerous stunts and not yielding to traffic rules is not an uncommon site. Police cars and helicopters chase and track down the bikers, while warning the people to watch out for the crazy bike riders.

This is an everyday situation in the city of Baltimore where the trend has grown into a full-blown movement.

The reason why they are called dirt bikes is, that they should be used on racing tracks or on land, andare illegal to use on the streets. They usually dont have number plates, because of the lack of lights and street tires, so traffic or highway use is not permitted. However more and more usually younger people take their dirt bikes to the streets in groups and perform various kinds of tricks. The most entertaining trick to do is called the wheelie (riding on a motorbikes back wheel).

A lot of people in Baltimore see them tearing through the city, and most people don’t really know what the whole thing is about. Of course the riders record these stunts and upload them to Youtube where some of these videos get a lot of views. Some of these guys who are talented and have riding skills see this as an opportunity to get out of the hoods of Baltimore. Since many of the riders are going for a YouTube celebrity status, they love the camera. Although some riders really just want to have fun, they threaten the safety of the commuters of Baltimore.

These guys come from all over the city and they get together in packs of up to 100 bikes. Riding in packs is to increase safety for bike riders because they can control large zones of a street without coming into contact with other commuters. However, these large packs also make commuters nervous. The over crowding is what causes police to come out. Some of these guys take this as a come and get meapproach and take it further than others, which can be dangerous.

The Baltimore Police Department realised early that they are facing a problem. Its easy to get away with a dirt bike from the police and they have no efficient way to stop a dirt bike without causing serious injuries. In 1999 a dirt bike rider died after a police officer chased him. The best way the police try to stop bikers is by making barricades on street corners to stop them. At the same time they also use helicopters to follow the riders and locate their place of residence for later investigation.

There is an upcoming movie about this movement, titled The Twelve OClock Boys. The tittle is a tribute to one of the famous gangs name and their trademark move, which tries to achieve a perfectly vertical wheelie, and whoever can keep a wheelie up the longest gets the most respect.

Maybe some of the study abroad students from the Main Campus know about this or even saw them, but those who didnt will probably see them if they spend a day in the city of Baltimore. For those who are not going to Baltimore in the near future, here is a video of the trailer of the upcoming Twelve Oclock Boys movie:

Viktor Jósa

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