WASHINGTON — Motorists on the Capital Beltway were startled this weekend, when a pack of up to 100 dirt bike and ATV riders briefly stopped traffic, harassed drivers and performed stunts.
Police couldn’t catch any of the bikers, but they are looking at video of the incident.
“It was really frightening,” said a motorist, who asked not to be named and who was caught in the disruption. “People were sitting in their cars terrorized.”
Traffic cameras caught the bikers weaving in and out of traffic on Sunday, antagonizing drivers and riding in the opposite direction. Plumes of bluish-gray smoke could be seen rising from the pavement as bikers burned tire rubber.
Video of the incident has also been posted on YouTube.
The disruptions occurred on the Inner Loop in Prince George’s County, I-295 and U.S. 50.
Police say it is not uncommon for packs of dirt bike and ATV riders to conduct such rides when the weather is warm. Packs were also spotted Sunday night in Arlington County and on North Capitol Street in the District, where dirt bikes and ATVs are illegal.
Maryland State Police dispatched troopers from the Forestville and College Parks barracks to the Beltway, but say the bikers had dispersed by the time troopers arrived.
“I absolutely expected to see all manner of police coming out from the woodwork,” said the unnamed motorist. “There are citizens sitting on the Beltway trying to go about about their business being terrorized by a group of thugs.”
Maryland State Police are examining video taken by motorists in a bid to acquire license tag numbers and identify some of the bikers.
Police concede it’s hard to catch them.
“They’re quicker, they’re faster, they turn faster. The faster we go, the faster they go,” said Elena Russo, a spokeswoman for the Maryland State Police.
Because of the bikers abilities to elude police and the safety risks of high speed chases, some police are hesitant to pursue dirt bikers. D.C. Police have a no chase policy.
Apparel available on the Internet associated with the organization BikeLife includes sweatshirts and T-shirts with the slogan “No Chase.”
There’s evidence that the traffic-snarling, lawless rides are well-organized.
Sunday afternoon’s disruption was preceded by an Internet posting advertising “Last 2015 Sunday Funday.” Bikers were invited to gather at a site in Upper Marlboro, Maryland for the Sunday ride.
“It was bizarre and horrible,” the motorist said. “It adds to the unsettledness and fear of our times, it seems like nobody is in charge anymore.”