Babylon Village officials passed a law Tuesday to allow code enforcement officers to confiscate bicycles from youths riding recklessly in traffic, while the New York Civil Liberties Union protested the change as violating riders’ due process.
Babylon residents have posted on social media about their interactions with young people riding their bikes directly into traffic, playing “chicken” with oncoming vehicles.
Mayor Ralph Scordino said residents have called him to complain and to ask that the village find a way to regulate it.
The trustees and mayor held a public hearing on Tuesday, listening to proponents, and opponents of the law, including the NYCLU. Afterward, the board voted to adopt the code change, known as Local Law 6, which allows village code enforcement officers to confiscate bikes from those riding recklessly.
Those under 16 years old would get their bikes returned after a meeting with their parents, and those 16 and over could be charged with a violation as an adult, subject to a $250 fine.
Village attorney Gerard Glass said officials may have to revisit the new law soon to comply with the state law that will raise the age of criminal responsibility to 18 by October.
Inspector Kevin Kane, commanding officer of the Suffolk County Police Department’s First Precinct in West Babylon, also noted that police can arrest and charge someone with reckless endangerment, including juvenile delinquents.
But Glass said he doesn’t expect the village to aggressively prosecute.
“The primary goal here is to cause a discussion at the dinner table,” he said, calling the code change an “education tool.”
Renee Wiczynski, of Babylon, said she encountered a group of about a dozen youths on bikes blocking traffic, and in some cases riding head-on against traffic in June. She took a video that showed two bicyclists riding directly toward her vehicle on Shore Road in Babylon.
“I’ve seen what happens when a kid is hit by a car on a bike,” said Wizcynski, who is a nurse.
She said that when she spoke to the riders, they were rude, kicking cars and cursing at people who approached them.
"This isn’t kids being kids . . .this is risky behavior,” Wiczynski said. “They are children running head on into a car.”
In opposing the law, NYCLU Suffolk Chapter director Irma Solis issued a statement that, among other things, the law would violate riders’ due process by impounding bicycles without a clear procedure for how to retrieve them.
“At first glance, proponents may view Local Law 6 as a sensical fix to regulating the reckless operation of bicycles, but a closer examination of the cascading consequences of the proposed law should direct the legislature to explore another approach — one that is less punitive,” Solis said.
Glass said that while the village has an inherent legal right to impound a bicycle as evidence, “the village would more than likely return the bike as soon as there’s a meeting with the offender and the parent.”