Residents and school officials are concerned about a growing number of teens performing dangerous bicycle stunts on busy Suffolk County roads and riding into oncoming traffic.
Parents in multiple Suffolk communities have been notified by school officials about the issue.
Kings Park Central School District Superintendent Timothy Egan warned about the “potentially deadly” trend in an email to parents last Friday. Egan has recently received reports of teens riding their bicycles into oncoming traffic and veering away at the last minute as well as doing wheelies on busy streets, he said, noting that incidents have been reported in Kings Park as well as in Commack.
Egan said he believes children are filming the stunts and posting the videos on social media, though it’s unclear if any of these videos have surfaced.
“These activities are simply the latest danger to face our students,” Egan wrote in the email. “It is essential that parents and community members are aware of the influence that social media antics such as this have on our children.”
Suffolk County police said the department has responded to “dozens” of 911 calls “reporting groups of ‘youths’ operating bicycles in a reckless manner or creating a hazardous condition,” according to a Sept. 25 letter sent to school districts and reviewed by Newsday.
Bicyclists have taken over public roads by riding in the traffic lane, and come “dangerously close to pedestrians and vehicles, seemingly on purpose” in commercial parking lots, police said.
According to the letter, such incidents have occurred on public roadways such as Deer Park Avenue, and at Tanger Outlet in Deer Park, where bicyclists rode through the mall while harassing customers and security personnel.
Nassau County police did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the trend.
Other school districts have shared police department warnings about the trend, including West Babylon Union Free School District, according to district representatives.
Elwood School District Superintendent Ken Bossert also sent a message to parents, asking them to speak with their children and said the district would be holding a social media safety workshop for parents in the coming months.
“Our biggest concern is for the safety of our children,” he wrote.
In East Islip, Susan Kavanagh said she encountered about 15 teens riding their bicycles into oncoming traffic on Main Street in August, causing cars and a bus to swerve out of their way.
“I felt like I was going to get hit by the cars that were moving out of the way or that I was going to hit one of those children,” said Kavanagh, 50, of East Islip, adding that her husband witnessed teens biking in and out of traffic in September in the same area.
Suffolk County Legis. Tom Cilmi (R-Bay Shore) said he’s received complaints about the bicycle stunts from “hundreds of his constituents” and is imploring parents to talk to their children about this “dangerous behavior.”
“It’s really a wonder that we haven’t seen a horrific accident as a result of this,” Cilmi said. “My message to parents is that they have to talk to their kids about the rules of the road and about the dangers of using our public roadways.”