Columbus is trying to find ways to handle noisy motorcycles, cars and ATVs

Motorcyclists pull on the engines. All-terrain motorcycles that do wheelies. Mountain bikes coming down the streets. Cars taking off. Races.

All of them have become more visible since the COVID-19 pandemic changed our lives and apparently encouraged a lot of people to show off on the streets of Columbus.

Now Columbus officials and the police are discussing ways to deal with the growing problems.

This can include police officers going to places where racers meet to check vehicle registrations or potential infractions, said Robin Davis, spokesman for Mayor Andrew J. Ginther.

It could also include new legislation or stronger enforcement of existing laws, officials said.

Several downtown and Short North residents and businessmen say they want something done – and soon.

“Someone is going to be killed,” said downtown resident Tom Betti. “These cars go 60-70 miles an hour on 4th Street.”

Betti lives in the Hartman building on South 4th Street and said one of her neighbors moved because he no longer felt safe downtown.

“Who wants to move downtown when there are drag races and the police are nowhere to be found?” Betti said.

Betsy Pandora, executive director of the Short North Alliance, said the noise was affecting the quality of life in the neighborhood.

“This is an issue that has become a priority concern,” Pandora said. Not only the noise, but also the people turning on red lights and driving in the middle lane of the street. “

Rob Leary, who has lived downtown for just over a year at The Nicholas Apartments on North High and West Gay Streets, said the city needs to do something.

“Motorcycles are really bad. It doesn’t matter what time of day. It can be 7 am. It can be noon. It can be 7 pm, 2 or 3 am. Leary.

“It’s embarrassing. I had customers for dinner, eating out in the Short North and a bunch of 40 wrecks cranking their engines, riding bikes and cavorting. The guys at the table got me down. looked. “I thought it was supposed to be a nice, sophisticated and modern city,” Leary said.

“There should be some sort of noise ordinance. It’s deafening,” he said.

In fact, the city has noise ordinances in the books, including this provision: “No one shall make or permit any noise to be made unreasonably loud and / or hoarse in a manner or at such a volume as to” it disturbs the calm, comfort or rest of a person of ordinary sensitivity. “

Drivers who do not stop after authorities tell them to do so could face a fourth degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a fine of $ 250 .

Meanwhile, off-road motorcycle and ATV riders have been driving and performing dangerous tricks illegally on city streets for several years in other cities across the country, including Baltimore, Boston, Miami, Nashville, La Nouvelle. -Orléans and New York.

Youtube video: “Police try to stop over 1,000 mountain bikes in New York”

In 2016, Baltimore Police organized a special off-road motorcycle task force that uses helicopter surveillance to locate, approach and stop off-road motorcycle and ATV riders. Hundreds of off-road motorcycles were seized.

The task force was formed the year after three off-road bikers died in crashes on the streets of Baltimore city, and Allison Blanding, 24, a waitress and mother, was struck and killed by a biker.

This year, cities like Philadelphia, New Haven, Connecticut; and Albany, NY; have passed laws banning off-road motorcycles and ATVs on city streets.

During a media event Wednesday at the Linden Community Center on the Next Phase of “Reimagining Public Safety,” it was mentioned that the Columbus City Council, the city attorney’s office and the Columbus Police were exploring ways to manage ATVs and dirt bikes on city streets. .

Marc Conte, acting executive director of the Capital Crossroads Special Improvement District, said his group had heard concerns from residents and business people. He said the Special Improvement District tells people to file complaints with 311.

“The residents understand what they have moved into, an urban environment,” Conte said.

“It’s something we’ve never experienced in the city. Extremely loud noise, people deliberately making as much noise as possible with their motorcycles in the city center, drag races in the streets, in the wrong way on the streets, people coming in and out of the lanes, ”he said.

Jim Meyer, of Meyer & Dial Cutler Real Estate, whose office is in Short North, said some people he knew in a meeting had changed rooms at hotels in Short North on the High Street side to other sides because of street noise at 3 a.m. or 4 a.m.

Meyer said he had had at least half a dozen clients who moved from Short North, with motorcycle noise being one of the contributing factors.

The biggest groups parade the High Street on Friday and Saturday nights, he said.

“It certainly looks like they want to be noticed,” Meyer said.

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