There are lots of reasons why traffic stalls on Bay Area freeways. Now you can add car stunts to the list. Drivers who like to spin their cars in “sideshow” doughnuts apparently stopped traffic on Interstate 880 in Oakland over the weekend to indulge in their pastime, reportedly backing up traffic for miles.

The smoke of burned rubber filled the air as unwilling spectators climbed from their blocked vehicles to shoot cell phone videos.

Several videos like these have appeared on YouTube:

Oakland has long wrestled with the sideshow phenomenon, which reportedly started in the parking lot of Eastmont Town Center shopping mall. Police have blamed the exhibitions for traffic accidents and crimes including shootings.

A 2005 MSNBC article, quoted Oakland Police Lt. Dave Kozicki on the dangers:

“But Lt. Kozicki says that while no one’s been killed doing a “donut,” people have been killed in accidents fleeing sideshows — and he says there’s plenty of violence generated by the crowd itself. “Just this year alone, we’ve had three of our homicides in the city of Oakland directly attributed to sideshow activity,” he says. The best evidence, says Kozicki, are in the videotapes sideshow participants make and sell. “I tell you, I could not put together a better case against sideshows than what these people are producing themselves,” he says.

The city passed laws aimed at controlling the sideshows, the Oakland Tribune reported.

But former Mayor Ron Dellums proposed decriminalizing the activity, which has also inspired rap songs, the New York Times reported in 2009:

“If a significant part the motivation for people in sideshows is to demonstrate their competence at the wheel, maybe you don’t need to do that in the streets (and) endanger people and endanger the community and endanger yourselves,” Mr. Dellums said.

Complaints about sideshows dropped dramatically when clubs formed to take the shows out of neighborhoods where residents objected, according to the Tribune.

Striving to be more responsible and avoid run-ins with police, the clubs have moved most of the action off the streets of Oakland, choosing instead to take “cruises” to Sacramento, Hayward and Oakland where most of the tire-squealing car tricks are performed in isolated parking lots.

Video: Sideshow Car Stunts Stop Traffic on I-880 in Oakland 28 January,2013Laird Harrison

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