A Montrose woman had to stop and pull over on the side of Alabama Street after being surrounded by ATVs and dirt bikes while on her way to the grocery store Sunday.
“This is absolute insanity,” she said in a video she recorded during the encounter. “Nobody can go anywhere.”
She asked us not to identify her, sharing an experience she’s never seen during her more than three years in Houston.
“They kind of just took over all the lanes of traffic [and] were doing wheelies, and swerving around,” she said.
Another group was captured on video going through downtown last week.
“It looked like 100 of them out there, so it looked like something out of a movie,” said Frank Lopez, who shot the video from his third-floor office at Rusk and Milam Streets. “We want to keep it safe, to where, you know, where when someone brings up the Skyline District, they’re not like, oh, ‘That’s where that thing happened with those riders.’”
He said he’s starting to see the groups of riders more often.
“They’re off-road vehicles being used on-road,” said former Houston police officer Tom Nixon.
He said it’s a problem HPD won’t be able to tackle alone, and it’s likely the agency will need additional help from others like the Harris County Sheriff’s Office or County Constable Offices to be effective.
“Now, you’re not going to get everybody,” he said. “It’s kind of like fishing, you catch what you catch.”
A coordinated effort could help make more stops and more arrests, he said. Drivers caught in the middle of the ‘swarm’ need to use defensive driving skills, he said.
“Either slow down or get out of the way. Using your vehicle as an impact weapon is not the solution - it never is the solution,” Nixon added.
That’s a lesson the Montrose woman learned very quickly, telling KPRC 2 that by the time she realized what was happening, it was too late.
“I couldn’t move forward, I couldn’t go backward, so I just sat there,” she said.
A spokesperson for HPD told KPRC 2 that the department is aware of community complaints about these vehicles that are not street-legal, but that HPD is still working to educate leaders of the groups about the dangers to themselves and other drivers.
The police department is also letting them know that tickets or arrests are possible if it continues, the spokesperson said.