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Night riders


Summer heat means juveniles hanging out later at night. Some are blaring "boomboxes," some are revving up dirt bikes and speeding through neighborhoods.

These disturbances are shared by city and suburb alike. Some daredevil members of the Anne Arundel County police force, in fact, are beginning to ride dirt bikes themselves in order to chase down these dirt bikers who are causing havoc in residential areas.

Their counterparts in Baltimore City are also cracking down on these bikers.

"We have motorbike complaints from virtually all four corners of this district," says Capt. Michael P. Fitzgibbons, commander of Anne Arundel's Eastern District.

"They tear up school yards. They interrupt athletic contests, which becomes very dangerous when you have kids out there playing ball and one of these [bikes is] coming through at 50 mph."

Capt. Fitzgibbons plans to have two officers riding at various times and locations in Anne Arundel, through Pasadena, Severna Park and the Broadneck Peninsula.

Across the city line, Baltimore Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke has reached the conclusion that "just trying to chase them has not been very effective."

City police are now seeking to identify the homes of dirt bike riders. Because storing gasoline in homes is illegal, "we will go and seize these bikes" for violating the fire code, Mayor Schmoke said.

On any given summer night, dirt bikes, which are not registered for use on the streets and do not have headlights, can be seen zipping the wrong way on one-way streets in many city neighborhoods.

Drug lords in West Baltimore were supplying their runners with dirt bikes to make it easier for them to elude the law. At a community meeting there recently, the mayor heard an earful from residents tired of dirt bikes and the noise and danger they generate.

That's bad enough. Now comes news that improved technology has led to the production of a new generation of high-speed motorcycles capable of speeds well past 100 mph that are whizzing along such thoroughfares as the Jones Falls Expressway, Liberty Road and Northern Parkway.

Clearly, more parental supervision is needed to curtail these juvenile night riders. Absent that, the police should maintain their focus on this dangerous nuisance.

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