Police try to track the clubs on social media to break up their frequent rallies before the cycles start speeding up and down Lake Shore Drive, Michigan Avenue and other major streets in and around downtown in caravans that can number in the hundreds, Cmdr. Sean Loughlan said during a City Hall hearing on how to deal with the problem.
But once the riders are rolling, with some popping wheelies and pulling other tricks, police need to weigh whether starting a pursuit is worth it, even assuming enough officers can respond to slow them down, Loughlan said. A police task force will try to get a handle on the problem, he said.
“These individuals, the worst bad actors, they’re not stopping,” Loughlan said. “In fact, they want you to chase them.”
Police sometimes will call for a helicopter to track the riders to find out where they’re going to later issue tickets. “The balancing test is very difficult, because we’re primarily talking about traffic offenses, which we are prohibited from pursuing in any way, shape or form,” Loughlan said.
“So that’s why we always try to, the best course of action, the best practice is to swarm these individuals either before they get started on these rides, when they’re at the outlying rally points in the outer parts of Chicago, or, say, if they’re in a rally point, there’s a few identified rally points downtown as well,” he said.
The city also will install noise-monitoring equipment in areas of the city where the riders are known to rally, in order to try to monitor their movements, he said.
South Loop Ald. Pat Dowell, 3rd, said the cycle trick groups are an increasing problem on surface streets in her ward. “These riders typically ignore traffic signals, they play disruptively loud music, they ride on sidewalks and they threaten pedestrians,” Dowell said.