Coalition Building for Urban Riders
Print media and TV reports have been full of stories of rogue, urban dirt bike and ATV riders doing wheelies and stoppies, sometimes riding in groups large enough to block traffic and taking over city parks and private parking lots.
On the big screen, Baltimore has itsTwelve O’clock Boys documentary, released in 2013, that tells the riders’ story. Philadelphians will see familiar streets when “Ride 2 the Death”opens this fall, depicting the urban dirt bike scene in the City of Brotherly Love.
Within the AMA’s mission of promoting the motorcycle lifestyle and protecting the future of motorcycling, we have been researching alternatives to illegal city riding, especially for urban youths.
While some riders are unquestionably talented, it’s clear that their illegal and unsafe antics do not represent the AMA’s definition of the “motorcycle lifestyle.” It’s similarly clear that, left unchecked, the expansion of this illegal activity is not protecting the future of motorcycling. Quite the opposite. The illegal riders are creating a public safety problem that requires police action, disrupts neighborhoods and creates a poor public perception of the general motorcycling community.
The political, economic and public-opinion hurdles in the path of efforts to create alternate outlets for urban riders are significant. Still, urban and suburban OHV parks in Texas, Georgia, New Jersey, Iowa and elsewhere prove there are ways to successfully channel the passion for riding in a positive direction.
At the request of local riders, the AMA has provided testimony to city officials in Pittsburgh when illegal riding peaked there in 2014. More recently, the AMA has accepted an invitation to represent motorcyclists on a Baltimore City Councilman’s OHV park task force. And we have joined forces with the National Youth Program Using Minibikes and others in Philadelphia who are working to encourage responsible riding in urban settings.
NYPUM has been teaching responsibility to boys and girls ages 10 to 17 nationwide for more than 40 years, using minibikes.
Their message and participation was ideal for young enthusiasts and curious adults who attended the motorcycle lifestyle event Clutch Control in Philly on Oct. 3.
It has taken years to get other public OHV parks from concept to welcoming riders. With the active involvement of national partners like NYPUM, powersports manufacturers and dealerships, enthusiast associations, local riders, law enforcement, religious and civic leaders and politicians, we might just have an urban formula that will encourage young enthusiasts to ride responsibly and help protect the future of motorcycling for all of us.