Kansas City police are looking for ways to crack down on dangerous motorcyclists after a group of about 40 bikers blocked traffic on Interstate 70 Sunday afternoon to videotape themselves performing burnouts and wheelies while frightened motorists hunkered down.
Large gatherings where motorcyclists shut down traffic and record their tricks is a growing problem, police say. They believe the popularity of social media websites makes such gatherings easier to plan and promote.
Bikers who embrace this kind of extreme motorcycle riding call it “killing the streets.”
But what they’re really doing is killing themselves and risking the lives of other motorists, police say.
A 26-year-old man on a sport bike died in December after a car pulled out from a restaurant parking lot in the 10400 block of Blue Ridge Boulevard in front of him. Police estimated his speed at 72 mph in the 35 mph zone.
Sgt. Bill Mahoney remembers other bikers being nearby at the time of the crash, with some of them causing a disturbance at the scene. Witnesses did not report any stunt work, but the victim was clearly speeding, Mahoney said.
The bikers’ antics, including sudden lane changes and driving between vehicles, scare other drivers more than impress them, Mahoney said.
“It’s hard to watch seven different people when they’re coming around you on different sides,” he said.
Wrecks caused by bikers speeding the wrong way into oncoming traffic have killed motorists in other cities, including two people in Dallas in 2010.
Kansas City Police Sgt. Jay Atkinson worries that bikers who block the streets also could cause a deadly backup if a tractor-trailer came over a hill and could not stop in time.
“You could have a 30-car pileup from these idiots closing down the freeway,” Atkinson said. “Just trying to get them off the road on Sunday, we almost got run over.
“Even for us, taking enforcement action with red lights and patrol cars was dangerous.”