Hundreds of drivers on ATVs, dirt bikes disrupt traffic - Western Mass News - WGGB/WSHM

Hundreds of drivers on ATVs, dirt bikes disrupt traffic in Atlanta

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Courtesy: Freddy Gonzalez Courtesy: Freddy Gonzalez
Courtesy: Kirkwood Neighbors Organization Courtesy: Kirkwood Neighbors Organization
Courtesy: Kirkwood Neighbors Organization Courtesy: Kirkwood Neighbors Organization
Courtesy: Kirkwood Neighbors Organization Courtesy: Kirkwood Neighbors Organization

Several hundred people on all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes were driving recklessly throughout Atlanta on Sunday.

The activity began around noon with dozens of calls to 911 about the off-road vehicles blocking traffic. 

In a video posted to YouTube, you can see dozens of drivers blowing through a stoplight, trapping drivers in the intersection.

At one point, Pittman Park was the scene of a large rally of approximately 150 ATVs and dirt bikes.

According to police, one rider stalled his ATV and when an officer attempted to apprehend him, he simply abandoned his ATV and jumped on the back of another ATV and sped away.

CBS46 received an email from someone claiming to be part of the group that drove through Atlanta on Sunday. In it they admit to knowing that riding through town on dirt bikes and ATVs is illegal.

Section 3: Article III of Chapter 150 of the City of Atlanta Code of Ordinances reads as follows:

"It shall be unlawful for anyone to operate an ATV or off road vehicle, as defined in this Chapter, on any city sidewalk, city park, city trail, city shared multi-use path, city bicycle path, city recreation facility, and all other city property. (This section does not apply to authorized city employees/agencies in the performance of their duties (i.e. police officers, parks employees, etc.). Also, see Section 110-59(a)(30) of the City Code which also prohibits the use of off road vehicles in City parks.

"It shall be unlawful for anyone to operate an ATV or off road vehicle, as defined in this Chapter, in the public right-of-way in residential zoning districts (designated as R-1 through R-5 districts) and in multi-family zoning districts (designated as RG and MR districts). These specific restrictions are authorized pursuant to the State of Georgia's "Off-Road Vehicle Act of 1975", Georgia Code Annotated §§ 40-7-1 through 40-7-6.

"(c) No person shall operate an ATV or off road vehicle in a manner which violates the City's Noise Ordinance.

"(d) Nothing in this ordinance shall prohibit or interfere with the open access of sidewalks or public infrastructure to persons with disabilities, wheelchairs, or in any way conflict with the American with Disabilities Act."

In a telephone conversation, the unknown man claimed the ride was in protest to the prohibitive ordinance.

He also claims there will be more rides in the future, and that riders from out of state are being brought in to bolster the groups numbers.

The man says social media sites like Facebook are being used to coordinate and organize the rides.

According to the email, the group just wants the community to come to an understanding over the use of these off-road machines.

Earl Williamson, environmental chairman of the Kirkwood Neighbors Organization, wrote CBS46 and gave his account of what he saw:

"This weekend Coan Park was badly impacted by over 107 (actual count) quadcycles and dirtbike motorcycles riding through the park. Quads are on street illegal period, most of the motorcycles did not have licenses. They were also reported on streets Moreland Avenue, Anniston Avenue, Whitefoord, Hosea Williams and neighborhoods Kirkwood, Ormewood, and Edgewood. They were running red lights, going wrong way/wrong side, forcing bicyclists off the road, and pedestrians off of sidewalks. Risk of bystander injury was significant. An APD car and two officers were in attendance and were not seen to engage the individuals (witnesses had the impression that APD was providing escort), we do not know what zone they were from."

It is important to note that police have not said if any of the drivers have street licenses.

Some people living near Coan Park thought the large group ride was sanctioned by police.

Mary Stroud stood on the sidewalk outside of her home and just waved excitedly at the riders as they passed by.

She said many of them cut through the park. One of her neighbors, Tyrell Jones, was upset they were driving recklessly so close to the park.

Another neighbor, Jason Rabon, was not home at the time but still encountered the horde of riders as they made their way through the city.

He also describes their driving as reckless, and says there was at least one collision he witnessed between two ATVs and a dirt bike.

Rabon said no one appeared to be seriously injured in the collision but it caused other riders to drive on the sidewalk where pedestrians were standing.

Police stopped a Gray Chevy Tahoe near Pittman Park. The rear passenger was identified as Kenneth Copeland. He was arrested on an outstanding warrant. The vehicle was impounded.

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