JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – There is outrage over what some Jacksonville residents are describing as road warriors terrorizing the city on motorcycles.
Multiple people News4JAX is not identifying over fears of retaliation are complaining about large groups of bikers who in recent weeks have been performing dangerous stunts in traffic.
Neighbors and motorists said it’s happening in broad daylight and sometimes at night — large groups of motorcyclists putting themselves and others in harm’s way.
They also say these groups of motorcyclists roar their engines down quiet residential streets at night while people are trying to sleep.
Cell phone video from Saturday captured what appears to be hundreds of motorcyclists hindering traffic at the intersection of Phillips Highway and University Boulevard. A woman who was with her husband and their one-year-old in a car was trying to get through the intersection.
“They were popping wheelies, spinning around, doing donuts in the road,” she said.
When the light turned green, she said she tried to navigate through the chaos and eventually got through, but said two of the motorcyclist appeared to follow her very closely, then got beside her, then moved in front of her and kept looking back at her before taking off.
“I’ve got a baby in the car and at the same time, I’m thinking someone is going to get hurt, whether it’s one of those people or somebody else on the road that doesn’t understand what’s going on,” she said. “It was very intimidating. I felt like they were going to follow every move I was making.”
Not too far from there, another motorist recorded video of what appeared to be a one-mile stretch of the same group of motorcyclists that would not stop to allow traffic with the green light to pass.
“There were motorcycles that had no tags. Wheelies are being performed by four-wheelers. Wheelies are being performed with passengers on the back,” one man said.
“Doing tricks. Weaving in and out of traffic. Pushing a van off the road. Pretty much-slowing vehicles to get other bikers in front of them,” his wife added.
Both that couple and the woman who felt like she was being followed called 911 to report reckless driving.
“At this point, it almost becomes localized domestic terrorism, specifically when you have a group of motorcyclist and ATV drivers that were taking up well over a mile of two lanes and terrorizing everybody that got in their path,” the man said.
On Nextdoor.com, someone wrote: “I’ve got no problem with a group motorcycle ride, and if they want to act like they’re 16 and break their necks, that’s fine too. But when they surround my family and me and start beating on our vehicles in a threatening manner, they’ve crossed a line.”
City Councilman Matt Carlucci said he has personally witnessed a large group of motorcyclists performing dangerous stunts through San Marco, popping wheelies along San Marco Blvd. And he said he has been made aware of how other motorists are bring treated when they complain to the motorcyclists.
“I’ve had people tell me they’ve been threatened. They’re treated rudely as these people parade through their neighborhoods,” Carlucci said.
News4JAX learned that on Friday evening, more than 100 motorcyclists were at a Gate gas station in Brooklyn. A gas station employee told News4JAX it was so crazy that night that she witnessed one of the motorcyclists nearly run over a child in the parking lot.
A San Marco homeowner said he also likes to ride motorcycles but is concerned about what he has witnessed near his home. He said it would be impossible for a single police officer to stop the entire group without an abundance of backup.
“The only way I think they will ever be able to stop it is to police officers infiltrate the group and ride with them so they can get plans to set up an area where they can corral them all in,” the San Marco resident said.
But it’s not just the street stunts that have people worried, it’s also the noisy motorcycle engines they hear at night while trying to sleep.
“It’s almost so loud and disturbing that you feel like they’re going to cause an accident and come right into your home,” a witness said.
Carlucci said this has become a serious issue that will likely come up in the next city transportation meeting.
He said if it does, he would like to have members of JSO present to see what can be done to stop this behavior before someone is killed.
There are several motorcycle groups in the Jacksonville area but News4JAX can’t confirm who they are. We do however know some of the riders have begun posting their videos to YouTube and police will likely be using those videos as evidence.