Swarms of aggressive riders on all-terrain vehicles, nonregistered motorized bikes and scooters should move their act from New York City streets to Long Island or risk having their rides seized and destroyed, NYPD Commissioner William Bratton said Monday.
Announcing a war on riders of ATVs, motorcycles, dirt bikes and other unregistered motorized devices, Bratton called the swarming riders “knuckleheads” who are engaging in illegal activity.
“Let them go to Long Island,” Bratton said, explaining that there wasn’t enough open space in the city for the bikers’ antics.
Local laws in Suffolk and Nassau counties prohibit the operation of ATVs, motorized scooters and similar vehicles on public highways and roads, as well as county property. Both counties allow their operation on private property with the consent of the land owner.
“We mean to get the characters, the individuals operating these bikes, these knuckleheads if you will,” said Bratton. “It is all about them, showing off the pack mentality.”
In response, acting Nassau Police Commissioner Thomas Krumpter advised the bikers to stay in the jurisdiction of the NYPD.
“We will not tolerate criminal behavior of any type,” Krumpter said late Monday night.Fleshing out the offensive, Chief of Patrol Carlos Gomez said groups of bikers hit the streets all over the city, endangering themselves and others as they travel in packs on streets and sidewalks.
Gomez said police aviation units will be deployed to spot the biker swarms. Officials said that registered motorcycles operated legally won’t be seized.
“Oftentime when they get on highways they will stop the traffic on the highway in order to perform stunts,” said Gomez, who showed reporters photos of biker groups seen recently in the Bronx and Brooklyn. “They endanger motorists, they endanger bicyclists, they endanger pedestrians, they also endanger themselves.”
Gomez and other NYPD officials said the riding of ATV and motorized dirt bikes on city streets is illegal and scores have been seized in recent weeks. Once seized, Bratton said the ATVs and dirt bikes will likely be destroyed.
“We will later this spring have a big crushing, where we will take all of these things and crush them,” said Bratton. “So if you have one of your wheels taken away from you, the intent is to take it away from you permanently and destroy them.”
So far this year, cops have seized 312 motorized bikes and ATVs, with 65 of the seizures occurring in the past two weeks, Gomez said. Both he and Bratton noted an incident two years ago in which a pack of legally registered motorcyclists got into a confrontation with a SUV driver on the West Side Highway, leading to the driver being beaten and a motorcyclist being injured.
Both Bratton and Gomez asked the public for assistance in calling in information about illegal ATV and motorized bike activity on the streets and in neighborhoods.
Gomez said arrests will be made of the bikers when it is safe to do so but cops generally will not pursue the offenders.
“We do not want to chase these individuals through the streets,” Gomez said. “We believe that causes a greater danger.”
With Nicole Fuller