RPD: Detail on illegal ATVs and dirt bikes starts this weekend

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. – Now’s the time of year when illegal ATV and dirt bike use ramps up. Police say they’re more than just a nuisance. They’re also a matter of life and death .

Rochester Police Lt. Greg Bello said the department has already removed some of these bikes off the streets. Last summer, they took over 100 off the roads, and destroyed them.

Starting this weekend, police are ramping up their presence. Chief David Smith said it’s a collaborative effort with Monroe County Sheriff’s Office and New York State Police. They’ll be working to educate, and confiscate illegal bikes.

You may recall a few years ago, a dirt bike driver and nine-year-old passenger were killed in a crash on Kilmar Street in Northeast Rochester. Police said they were not wearing helmets, and the bike wasn’t even registered.

It’s stories like these, Bello wants to remind the community about.

“They’re not built for city streets,” he said. “They’re not licensed for city streets, and they’re not legal to be operated on city streets.”

He said it’s a two-fold issue; The noise, and the safety concern.

“We’re seizing these vehicles from people, holding the offenders and operators accountable. But then the other side of it is the safety aspect,” said Bello. “The educational part, practically trying to reduce it before it happens kind of thing as well.”

He said every year, they respond to multiple crashes.

A popular spot for them is near Ontario Beach Park, where Tom Bruce lives and runs the Charlotte Community Association.

“It isn’t the fact that they come down as one or two, they come down in groups of 10 and 20, even more, in a group,” he said. “It frustrates the police, I know.”

He said the bikes will often drive close to cars, weaving through them and throwing off drivers.

“The fact is, one of these guys come up behind you really fast, and by you, it makes you move, you jerk to the side and you react,” said Bruce.

Bello said if they find you with one, they’ll take it, and even crush it in their impound lot.

“They end up being crushed, we crushed over a 100 last year,” said Bello. “And if this continues to be a problem, we’re going to continue to enforce these rules for the driver, whether it’s traffic tickets or criminal charges.”

Bello said penalties vary by situation and depend on the driver’s conduct.

If you see these ATVs or dirt bikes driving illegally on the roads, you should call 311.