My wife and I saw a documentary a couple of weeks ago called Twelve O’Clock Boyz. It‘s a story about a 10 year-old kid, in inner city Baltimore, whose goal in life is to become a member of this bike club. Their club is called Twelve O’Clock Boyz because what they strive for is the perfect wheelie. Unfortunately, the film was not done as well as it could have been. It was an interesting subject that suffered from poor execution. Part of the problem may have been the venue. It was shown in a gallery in NE Minneapolis. The acoustics were not great and neither was the seating.
My interest in the movie came from an article I had read last fall about these urban dirt bike riders. It’s been going on for quite a few years in Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York and a lot of other cities. They call themselves clubs not gangs. The riders all claim that this is a better way to live than running with gangs and selling drugs. None of them seem to understand that they are breaking the law and are a danger to others. The bikes and ATVs they are riding are not street legal or designed to be ridden on the street. The common rule for the police in these cities is a no-chase policy. This creates a whole new thrill for these riders. They taunt and challenge the cops whose hands are tied because of their concern for public safety.
I know a few people who ride or have ridden motorcycles with clubs. Some of them outlaws and some not. I understand the desire to be part of a group and to partake in group activities. I can relate to the adrenalin rush that comes from riding a motorcycle both legally and illegally. What I can’t buy into is thinking that some laws shouldn’t apply to certain individuals or groups. People are getting killed because of these dirt bike riders. There are efforts being made in some of these cities to create places for them to ride their off-road bikes legally but from what I’ve read and seen it may not be the answer.
People ride motorcycles for a variety of reasons. They want to be seen, heard and rebel. They want the freedom of the open road. They want to challenge themselves with speed and endurance. They want the solitude as well as the camaraderie of like-minded folks. I’ve ridden for all these reasons and more. My guess would be that if off-road parks were created in these cities, they would go primarily unused. These riders want to be seen and they want to disrupt. They are riding for notoriety and recognition for their mad wheelie skills.
If it were up to me, I’d build the parks and take these 10 year-old kids and teach them to ride. Give them the responsibility and freedom, with adult supervision, to develop the parks into a riding environment they would enjoy. There has to be a way to make it cooler to ride legally than it is to tear up and down city streets.
So if you see a group of dirt bike riders tearing down our city streets, please don’t encourage them by posting videos or photos. If possible, try to flag them down and tell them about Minnesota’s great OHV riding areas. They might not be interested but you may delay them long enough for the cops to grab them.