Downtown Tampa’s growing dirt bike problem

Hillsborough County

TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA)- A Tampa man is fed up with dirt bikers racing down his street.

Kristopher Gallagher lives off Lake Avenue and Taliaferro Avenue in Tampa and says his home is his sanctuary. But not anymore, since people riding dirt bikes and ATV’s have taken over his Lake Avenue Street.

“They’ve harassed me personally. They’ve harassed other motorists and other bicyclists,” he said. “They’re going up and down the street, riding on the sidewalks, weaving in and out of traffic… driving in the opposing traffic lanes.”

He hears and sees it all and records it on his home surveillance camera and he’s not alone. People who live in downtown Tampa see and hear it all the time too.

“It’s pretty annoying. as long as it’s done by midnight… I mean we have a train that goes through so as long as it’s done by 10, 11 midnight it’s ok,” said Andrew Schillace, who lives downtown.

Tampa police say they have an operation plan in place and have answered hundreds of calls.

Chief Brian Dugan says his department takes this very seriously.

“The dilemma that we have in law enforcement is that when you see large packs of dirt bikes ATVs whatever you wanna call them, they’re not supposed to be on the road… they’re off-road, the dilemma you have is what do you do about it,” he said.

One thing they don’t do is chase those bikers.

“If we were to chase them and they wreck down the road someone gets upset over that, so it’s really a catch 22. Do we want out cops chasing people on motorcycles and ATVs and dirt bikes?”

In 2020, Tampa Police received 886 calls about dirt bikes and ATVs:

Of those:

  • 712 were dirt bikes
  • 174 were ATVs
  • 46 cases ended in an arrest
  • 16 people booked
  • 13 felony charges
  • Breaking down the issue by district:
  • District 1: 5 cases
  • District 2: 12 cases
  • District 3: 29
  • 17 vehicles impounded

Chief Dugan says Tampa police are doing thier best to handle the situation.

“We have to hope that we can catch up to them in traffic. We hope we can identify them later. There’s a lot of work that goes into that,” Dugan said.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

Trending Stories

get the app

News App

Weather App

Don't Miss

More Don't Miss