It would not be a stretch to say that anyone driving a motor vehicle on public roads should be required to follow the law as it applies to traffic safety. As licensed drivers and citizens we all have a responsibility to operate our vehicles in a civilized and safety conscious manner, yet there is a small group of motorcycle and ATV riders that have made a name for themselves as they flout the law in cities such as Baltimore.
As a Maryland personal injury attorney and motorcycle accident lawyer, I have the skills and training to represent riders who have been injured in motor vehicle and other traffic-related car and commercial truck crashes.
While I support citizens’ rights to exercise their freedom when choosing a mode of transportation, I also know that riding even a licensed motorcycle or ATV on public streets can be a risky pastime. Being maimed or fatally injured on a motorcycle could not be considered the objective of most clear-thinking individuals.
Collisions involving motorcycles and trucks or passenger cars can have dire consequences for the relatively unprotected bike rider. Although helmets and other types of protective outer wear can improve a rider’s chances of surviving a crash, the laws of physics don’t always allow for a good outcome for motorcyclists hit by a commercial truck, SUV or even a smaller economy car.
Head trauma, neck injuries and spinal damage can easily occur to even the most well-padded and helmeted rider. The change for traumatic brain injury jumps appreciably for those who don’t wear a helmet or ride in a fashion that increases the odds of a serious or fatal traffic accident.
The recent news articles surrounding the growing trend of dirt bike riding on city streets has raised a number of questions about the safety of not only the riders, but the rest of the motoring public and pedestrians as well. According to reports, packs of dirt-bike riders have been taking to Baltimore’s residential streets and apparently ignoring stoplights, traffic control signs and legal speed limits.
Referred to as suicidal by some, city dirt-bike riders have reportedly formed an organization here in Baltimore that is seeking to change the perception that riding dirt bikes is only the reckless pursuit of thoughtless youngsters. Whether or not they can turn this pastime into a legitimate sport remains to be seen, but to date the instances of dangerous riding seems to have trumped the safer aspects of the activity.
According to news articles, the Baltimore’s Eastern District Police Department has been fielding a constant flow of complaints from local residents about these bikers. Police in the Eastern District, which ranges from the East Oliver neighborhood west to Federal St, have been using what it describes as creative tactics to confiscate bikes illegal to ride on public roads. According to police, riders hide their dirt bikes inside houses, among other places.
There are numerous ordinances regulating dirt bikes in the Baltimore area. According to one news report, four different sections of city code are devoted to the subject. These include one law that states, riding an unregistered motorcycle or similar vehicle is punishable by up to a $1,000 fine and 90 days in jail. Another regulation makes it illegal for a Baltimore gas station to provide fuel to a dirt bike; also a $1,000 fine. A parent can even be put in jail for up to three months if he or she allows a child to participate in these kinds of illegal dirt bike riding activities in the city.
Riding dirty — Dirt bike culture: Menace to society or art form?, BaltimoreSun.com, November 15, 2010