North Hempstead has had it with ATVs. Join the club.
The town is proposing to become the latest of many Long Island municipalities to ban all-terrain vehicles, and it’s the right move. The prohibition would apply to town-owned property like parks and parking lots and is in response to concerns of residents. There’s a lot to complain about.
ATVs destroy vegetation, degrade habitat for animals and birds, and harass wildlife. In wooded areas, they damage trails used by hikers, mountain bikers, bird-watchers and equestrians. They create noise, dust and erosion. That’s why they’re banned on public land in both Nassau and Suffolk counties, and by all 10 towns in Suffolk.
Conscientious ATV riders get it. They understand their hobby is a poor fit for a region with Long Island’s population density and precious outdoor spaces. With a dearth of private property on which to ride, they head upstate to rev their engines. But not everyone has gotten the message.
In Suffolk, the Central Pine Barrens Law Enforcement Council alone handed out 184 ATV-related summonses and impounded 51 machines last year. Packs of riders are still seen on some paved streets. And it was only one year ago that then-New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton announced a crackdown on aggressive city ATV riders and suggested they go to Long Island. No thanks.
North Hempstead is right to move forward on a ban, which would include an important provision to impound violators’ vehicles. But after passing the legislation, the town must be prepared to enforce it. Protecting public property is a full-time job. — The editorial board