Updated: April 21, 2021 11:10 PM
Created: April 21, 2021 10:42 PM
ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WHEC) — Police expressed hope for a proposed Monroe County law to crack down on illegal dirt bikes, mini bikes and ATVs on city streets.
The new law was introduced as an “urgent” proposal, meaning it could come up in April committee meetings as soon as next week.
"Hot dogging in a pack is… [it] usually ends bad[ly] to begin with,” sighed longtime biker Ron Bess who says he's witnessed—and suffered—horrific crashes, but that seeing crowds of young people on illegal bikes and ATVs on Rochester streets scares him.
"That's my nightmare,” Bess said, “to pull through an intersection and run over a 17-year-old kid."
Police in communities like Irondequoit are concerned about growing swarms of them coming in from Rochester.
"They are coming into town, whether they're going up to Durand Eastman Park or just using the roads to ride through,” Irondequoit Police Chief Alan Laird explained. “What we are finding is these complaints have come in much earlier in the year this year and in much larger numbers.”
"I've heard of people who have nearly been taken out by [bikers] going onto sidewalks and then onto roads. So it's certainly a public safety concern,” added Monroe County Legislator Joe Morelle Jr. of Irondequoit.
Morelle’s proposed new law authorizes police that catch someone on an illegal vehicle to confiscate it and imposes a $500 fee to get it back, $2,000 if it happens again.
Police acknowledge they face a tough job catching illegal bikers because they can't chase them, but hope consequences will deter them.
"You know, at $500 the first time and $2,000 next time, on top of, as I mentioned, all these other fees that could be associated with it, you may think twice about taking that out,” Morelle said.
”I don’t think it has to go this far,” Bess said. “legislation and police action, which in the end costs us tax money and no one likes it.”
Bess says he’s hoping education can teach young people about the danger to their neighbors and to themselves in those illegal vehicles.
Police, too, say that may make the difference, and help bikers avoid stiff penalties.
“I think it has to be people in the community can step up and speak and guide these groups,” Bess said. “Maybe someone who has their ear, who they look up to, might be the one that could speak to them and reach them.”
If the “urgent” designation fast tracks the proposed legislation, it could be the subject of public hearings by May and become law by June.
Rochester City Councilmember Jose Peo is behind similar legislation.
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