Cleveland looking into letting dirt bike riders use popular Muni Lot

CLEVELAND -- The FOX 8 I-Team has found Cleveland city leaders are looking into allowing dirt bikes downtown on the Muni Lot.

It could happen on weekend days when there are no special events such as Browns games when fans tailgate on the lot.

Dirt bikes have become a chronic problem on the streets with riders often riding in large groups taking over the streets.

The city is considering this as a temporary step as it investigates a place to build a permanent dirt bike track.

City Hall had a site chosen for the permanent track at a cost of about $2 million, but now planners are looking to find a new location.

If a plan moved forward for using the Muni Lot, likely a company or organization would take over the lot on certain days and set it up for dirt bike riding. The city says that company or organization would need insurance, too. That way, taxpayers would not have to pay if someone would get hurt.

Cleveland Chief Operating Officer Darnell Brown said, "We're trying to solve a problem." He added, "It’s an opportunity for us to do something somewhat non-traditional, but to address a spot in our community…a problem that we have not had a good answer for."

Even with the talk of allowing dirt bike riders to use the Muni Lot on days when it's empty, City Hall says it's still trying to find a place to build a permanent dirt bike track. The city administration is now looking at 4 or 5 possible sites with each including at least 17 acres.

There is no timetable for building the track, and the talk of using the Muni Lot has not been finalized.

Cleveland city leaders have passed tougher laws against riding dirt bikes in the street. And police have set up special patrols to crack down on the riders. Still, the problem has not gone away.

Denaye Hatcher’s 8-year-old son suffered broken bones when a dirt bike rider ran into him at a park. Hatcher said, "And you want to go downtown? I don't think that's smart." She added, 'i really don't understand why you're catering so much to the dirt bikes."

Darnell Brown says the track, or using the Muni Lot would give riders a legal place to go with their dirt bikes. Though he admits, some riders will likely still try to ride in the streets no matter what.

Read more on the dirt bike crackdown.