Organized Mardi Gras 'Bike Out' parades illegally on interstate - FOX 8, WVUE, fox8live.com, weather, app, news, saints

Organized Mardi Gras 'Bike Out' parades illegally on interstate

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) -

Hundreds of people illegally drove ATVs and dirt bikes on the interstate and streets of New Orleans Tuesday as a part of a Mardi Gras gathering, and according to Jefferson Parish Interim Sheriff Joe Lopinto, law enforcement knew about it but held back on taking any action for the time being. 

"We are going to try to do whatever we can to take enforcement action, but you also have to prioritize cause. That's what New Orleans (Police) and State Police did yesterday, and we assisted. It depends on the actions we can take weighing them against what the responsibility of our deputies and officers are on Mardi Gras day itself," Lopinto said. 

Between 100-200 riders drove for several hours through New Orleans, according to Lopinto. 

"State Police's helicopter was in the air. They ended up having to go down for refueling. They asked our helicopter with Jefferson Parish to go and continue to do the surveillance on them and make sure they didn't come to the parade route to try really disrupt the parade itself. Our air support monitored them for a period of time until they finally packed up and I guess went home or went back to wherever they were coming from," Lopinto said.

By Wednesday afternoon, the group NewOrleans_BikeLife posted video of its Mardi Gras Bike Out on Instagram. The videos show people illegally riding and performing tricks on I-10. 

Organizers planned the ride weeks in advance, according to the group's Instagram page. 

"They may get away. Some of them may get away tomorrow, but we end up using whatever intelligence we can gather in order to make arrests later or utilize it for future investigations. That's what we are going to continue to do. If they continue to come into Jefferson Parish we are going to take enforcement action," Lopinto said. 

Lopinto said the group did not cross over into Jefferson Parish on Tuesday. He called illegal ATV's and dirt bikes traveling on roadways a nationwide problem. 

On NewOrleans_BikeLife's Twitter page, one post shows the group in the streets of Cleveland last year. 

An NOPD spokesperson responded to FOX 8's inquiry about the large group of ATV's and dirt bikes via email. 

If drivers encounter a large group of ATV riders on city streets, they are urged to use caution and use defensive driving techniques to avoid a collision with other motorists whether they are operating vehicles that are street-legal in Orleans Parish or not.

Motorists should control their own speed and remain alert and distraction-free.

Drivers should always be ready to react to the actions of others (both drivers and pedestrians) on the road and be prepared to react quickly and safely.

Drivers should always maintain a safe following distance and adjust to the prevailing weather and road conditions If drivers reach the point of feeling unsafe in their surroundings, they should find a safe spot, pull over and call 911. Drivers should never engage with individuals operating ATVs on city streets.

Fox 8 also reached out to the NewOrleans_BikeLife organization but did not receive a response. 

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