SMITHTOWN, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Officials on Long Island have launched a crackdown on off-road vehicles and the riders who insist upon causing trouble.
As CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff reported, the Town of Smithtown has teamed up with New York state and Suffolk County agencies to stop the constant buzz of all-terrain vehicles operating illegally.
Kings Park resident Walter Butler said the dirt bikes that roll through his neighborhood are noisy, grating and annoying as he imitated the noise they made for CBS2’s cameras.
They wreak havoc on local trails and shatter the safety of suburban streets, he said.
“They just zip through the streets to go to the trails. They could endanger the life of a child who runs out into the street playing ball,” one woman said.
“They come on the roads without helmets – little kids, big kids, different kids,” a man added. “They rip up the grass doing their wheelies or whatever they do.”
Riders proudly post on YouTube their joyriding escapades in public parks.
But dirt bikes, quads, and ATVs are illegal to ride on any public land in the town of Smithtown. Residents complain the law does not stop the offenders as they cut through fences and tear up the ground.
“They’re going to get hurt,” a woman said. “One of them already got hurt.”
“It’s happening in every community on Long Island,” said Smithtown Public Safety Deputy Chief Kevin McPadden.
Smithtown officials announced a recent crackdown. Law enforcement officers who were themselves on ATVs corralled offenders and blocked park exits.
The result was that 10 vehicles – most of them unregistered and uninsured – were impounded. A total of 42 summonses were written, and a warning was the local young adults who were cited that they will be fined.
“The operators of these vehicles have no concern – no concern for the safety of the residents who complain on a day-to-day basis that they’re being terrorized by these kids,” McPadden said.
Some riders paid the $250 impound fee to reclaim their dirt bikes. They admitted that they ride wherever they want.
“I think that they should make a spot so we could ride; so we don’t get in trouble and deal with this,” one young man said.
“When you pay to register, there should be trails to ride them,” another said.
Off-roading is a popular pastime, but officials warn that riders should take it upstate – where there is more open space and fewer restrictions. On Long Island, it is allowed only at private clubs or on private property with written permission.
Smithtown’s public safety department said this crackdown was just the beginning of a continued enforcement effort. A teen from Kings Park was killed in 2012 in a collision between his dirt bike and a car.