Best Scapegoats: Baltimore’s Dirtbikers

Sure, dirt bikes soaring through Baltimore are loud, obnoxious, and occasionally dangerous. It’s also a thrill like nothing else when you hear them and see them speeding down North Avenue or tricking out and popping wheelies on Reisterstown Road—city-centric examples of “recreational defiance.” But they’re also being scapegoated by the Baltimore Police, who since last August have been monitoring the dirt bikers, arresting them, and setting up a road block on Reisterstown Road to stop them. It hasn’t really worked. More recently, the BPD announced a dirt bike task force and have tenuously tied the dirt bikers to gun violence, which just doesn’t parse and is really only evidence of how popular dirt biking in the city is. OK, look: The dirt bikes are not a sign that Baltimore is lawless and chaotic, but another example of the lack of resources and recreational space the city provides youth, especially black youth. A drug war-style approach is not the solution. Start listening to the dirt bikers themselves, build them a track, and stop using them as a scapegoat for a supremely screwed-up city’s ills, please.

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