Created: April 11, 2021 07:13 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — A cell phone video taken on Saturday shows dozens of dirt bikes and ATV’s (or All Terrain Vehicles) weaving in and out of traffic at the intersection of Lake Avenue and Ridge Road in Rochester. Parked at a red light, onlookers see bike after bike speeding through the intersection without hesitation.
On Friday a viewer wrote to News10NBC saying they saw at least 60 dirt bikes and ATVs racing down Saint Paul Blvd in the middle of the road and on sidewalks. Some worry that the dirt bike and ATV activity we’ve already seen in the City of Rochester and outlying communities this spring could be an indicator of what’s to come this summer.
"We saw a summer of chaos last year,” says Rochester City Council Member Jose Peo. “Nothing was done about it, so if they know that they can get away with it, what's gonna happen this year?"
Local ATV and dirt bike shop owners tell News10NBC they’ve received a “tremendous” number of phone calls recently, asking if they have dirt bikes in stock. Some shops are completely sold out. While it’s legal to drive some dirt bikes on the road, ATVs are completely illegal to drive on city streets.
In Buffalo, Mayor Byron Brown is offering a cash reward for information about illegal riders. In Albany, new penalties were recently passed including a fine, jail time, or both.
In an effort to prevent more chaos, injuries, and deaths, Peo introduced new legislation this week that could help stop swarms of illegal riders from joyriding on city streets.
"The legislation is to make sure that we are, number one able to confiscate them, number two would be to fine them. The fine itself is gonna be pretty hefty," says Peo.
Like Albany, the fine Peo is proposing would be $650 for riding illegally. But that’s not all.
“The impound fee itself would be $2,350, so that's a total of $3,000,” says Peo. “$3,000 for a little bit of fun on our city streets, to me doesn't sound very economical."
Peo thinks it’s going to take more than just a hefty fine to keep city streets safe.
"If our only option is to go after them by hitting their pockets, that's the route we're gonna have to take until we get to a point where we have a city administration that respects and honors our police department to let them do their jobs appropriately," he says.
The main reason police don’t pursue illegal riders is because it’s often too dangerous to the public, especially considering they can move at high speeds off the road.
There have been conversations about using drone technology and helicopters to track illegal riders, which would help police pinpoint their locations faster than chasing them in a car.
“It's already started,” says Peo. “We've already seen what's happening, and this is only gonna get worse."
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