Dirt bikes called a menace

Police seek identity of man killed in accident in Brooklyn

Rider too big for vehicle

June 21, 1999|By Erika D. Peterman and Amy Oakes | Erika D. Peterman and Amy Oakes,SUN STAFF

Baltimore police were attempting yesterday to identify a man killed in a dirt-bike accident in southern Baltimore over the weekend, the latest fatality in what one traffic officer said is a growing problem involving the off-road motor bikes.

The victim was killed shortly after 1: 30 p.m. Saturday when he lost control of a Kawasaki motorbike in the 4200 block of Thayer Court in Brooklyn.

Police said the man's clothes became entangled in the dirt bike, causing him to be dragged about 80 feet across the pavement.

He was pronounced dead at the scene, police said.

Police said the motorbike was not registered and appeared to be too small for its rider, who was not wearing a safety helmet.

"The bike that he was riding has wheels on it that are only 14 inches in diameter," said Officer Raymond Howard of the traffic enforcement section. "I'm talking a very small minibike. You're not talking about a typical motorcycle that you see out on the road."

Statistics weren't available yesterday on how many dirt-bike accidents and fatalities have oc- curred in the Baltimore area.

The bikes are considered off-road vehicles and are not allowed on public roads unless registered.

Howard said he has investigated six other fatalities involving dirt bikes in the past two years.

He called the bikes "a menace" that cause serious injuries because their riders often have little or no experience with them.

"People think it's like riding a car, and it's not," the investigator said. "Very few of them wear helmets. The speed impacting with the concrete roadway and no helmet usually results in serious injury or death."

The victim in Saturday's accident was between 17 and 25 years old, police said.

Howard said the young man was probably too tall for the motorized bike, causing his legs to hit the handlebars.

Howard said many of the fatal dirt-bike accidents he has investigated involve the bikes running into larger vehicles on public roads.

"We've had them hit buses. We've had them run into the side of vans," Howard said. "I had one run underneath the bus. They're usually going to be the loser because they're going to fall off the bike. Once they use the front brakes, they're gone. It vaults them off."

Pub Date: 6/21/99

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