Group Proposes 5 Ideas to Stop ATV and Dirt Bike Rides


Photo via wikimedia.

ATVs and dirt bikes have been riding in large groups through Manhattan, and people have been calling police about the noise and danger to pedestrian safety. Police officials have said their policy is not to chase people through the street, because it endangers pedestrians. But they have been confiscating some dirt bikes and ATVs, which are illegal to ride through the city, when their owners stop for gas.

Borough President Gale Brewer wrote to the NYPD to pass along five ideas drafted by the Washington Heights-Inwood Task Force. The full letter is here.

Here’s a summary of the recommendations:

  1. Create a Pedestrian & Street Safety Task Force to gather more information on when the riders tend to come through different neighborhoods and where they stop. And to monitor social media to figure out the routes.
  2. Create an incentive program like the one where the city pays people to rat out engine-idlers.
  3. Increase fines. Right now the first violation is $500, and subsequent violations are $1,000. In New Haven, the city recently upped the fines and is even charging gas station owners that let people fill up ATVs and dirt bikes (fill-ups are allowed if the bikes are on a trailer).
  4. Educate people that these vehicles are illegal. The mayor should make it more clear that it’s against the law. “Due to the volume and frequency of reckless motorized bike and street racing activity, it seems to many NYC residents that this behavior is allowed.,” Brewer writes.
  5. Increase notification and response time. Make it easier for people to log a specific complaint about dirt bikes/ATVs or street racing and intentional car backfiring on the 311 app.
NEWS | 68 comments | permalink
    1. geoff says:

      I’ve seen the parade and frankly I get a kick out of it. Lasts what, 5 minutes? they ride by outside my window.

      Same with the kids parading and riding a block long (!) wheelies.

      They’re having fun, I have never seen it really disrupt traffic. It makes me smile.

      I guess if I walked out onto the street to watch I could report to readers I’d had several ‘close calls’ but I don’t do that.

      I’m old. White. I wish I could partake.

      • Peter says:

        You could partake. Buy/rent one and go to a specialized track.

        For every one of your “never seen them disrupt traffic”, I raise you two “saw three of them jump on the sidewalk in front of a cafe, surrounded by strollers at 6pm, in order to speed through an intersection at red light.”

        I’m young, white, and I don’t wish to violate existing traffic laws or endanger children or traffic participants.

      • ben says:

        It’s all fun watching from your window until you have to be in the traffic with them or try not to be run over. Lasts 5 min from your window but surely a lot longer down whatever road they bomb down.

      • Mr. Mxyzptlk says:

        I do agree, It’s not like these bikes sneak up on you – they can be heard coming for blocks. It’s easiest just to stand and let them pass; and kind of fun to watch. The noise is horrible – kinda reminds me of these cars with the heavy duty stereos than can be heard for blocks as well, and vibrate you entire apartment when they pass. More trying to kill fun inNYC. I say – Let ’em ride!

    2. w71 resident says:

      I wish there was a way to address this problem in a manner that makes it more of a partnership and much less punitive. Everyone knows that it’s illegal, so number four seems a bit… silly?

      Doing a little bit of research about bike culture, I think if there was a place that was available for riding that was safer for everyone, that might be a better option. If you can get past the noise, some of the riders are really talented and it’s clear that they are just having a good time.

      • w 71 resident says:

        I just can’t help but think that while yes, quality of life issues are really important, I would rather have more resources expended on addressing and resolving gun violence and attacks on public transportation.

    3. CriticalWestSider says:

      “ATVs and dirt bikes have been riding,” removes the agency of the riders. The large majority of folks engaged in these rides are men of color riding together en masse–the same group who the police don’t allow to safely ride in their vehicles alone. Who could blame them for riding together as a group on ATVs and dirt bikes when we know how the police are? This is a beautiful act of social resistance, albeit a relatively dangerous one for the public.

      How about giving these folks an open streets situation or just moving out of the way like we know to do for police where they are racing through the streets to do god knows what?

      The folks on bikes are just as eager to keep the public safe as the police are (if not more). I, for one, will be moving my car over to the right side and letting them do their thing.

      • dw22 says:

        “The folks on bikes are just as eager to keep the public safe”

        The folks who pull stunts, wheelies, run red lights en masse, and drive without license plates – are eager to keep the public safe?

        Please, tell me more. How can I sign up for your newsletter?

        • Nevets K says:

          Critical West Sider,
          There’s always a good reason for bad behavior.
          You’ve named a few.
          But the behavior remains BAD.
          Please do not conflate the two.
          By doing so, you are helping to tear at the fabric of civilization.
          These riders need to be arrested, their vehicles confiscated, their drivers licenses, if they have them, revoked for a year.

      • Peter says:

        Are you so woke that you can’t even see the contradictions in your statements?

        An “beautiful act of resistance…relatively dangerous for the public” by people who are “eager to keep the public safe” ?!

        The cognitive dissonance in calling for the complete surrender of the public to unlawful behavior, comparing illegal vehicles to emergency ones, and somehow blaming the police for all this (?!) is truly appalling.

      • Jay says:

        @critical:

        Saw one guy riding alone, today, on Columbus in front of Lincoln Center.

        Though what he was doing is illegal, and best done in rural parts of the state, he was not being bothered. He also managed to stop for red lights.

      • Chris says:

        Using your thoughts the proud boys should be allowed to drive tanks down the open streets because of their unity

      • Parah says:

        Because they maybe men of color we need to ignite more the laws and put people at risk. Sounds like privilege to me.

    4. UWSer says:

      We all know none of these will accomplish a damn thing. This is Brewer in a nutshell.

      • Lisa says:

        There is a democratic candidate who takes UWS quality of life issues seriously. Please vote on June 22.

        • Juan says:

          I think I know who you mean but could you please stop vague-posting and say their name? I believe it is permitted here (within reason).

    5. Lady Di says:

      lovely ideas, suggestions etc.,but good luck enforcing any of these. Standard parking tickets are ignored, and rarely are scofflaws nabbed. Educating people about something being illegal? how often has that stopped them. And given the revolving door of “bail reform”, if more violent crimes can’t be controlled, I won’t hold my breath that these misdemeanors will be addressed.

    6. Steve says:

      Are these groups really causing any harm? I find them an entertaining part of the fabric of the city. And they’re kinda super cool. Sure they’re noisy but so are a lot things and they pass by within in minutes of any one spot. Why not create a task force for people who lay on their horns the second someone is blocking a side street for one minute.

      • UwsTim says:

        Yes they are. One of them deliberately smacked my husband in the head last summer as he zipped by. I’ve seen others do the same – a sort of domino game as they speed along the sidewalk. I also watched an elderly woman collapse once as they zoomed by because the noise was so extreme it startled her.

    7. Ab says:

      Haha. Heaven forbid we would actually involve the police and arrest people who break the law and have the serious potential to cause injury or death to innocent bystanders. You are more likely to get a ticket going 25 mph in a 20 mph zone than riding an illegal atv with no helmet. The woke logic of our time.

    8. Frank Grimes says:

      6. Ask these law breakers nicely if they “wouldn’t mind keeping it down a bit”

      I got a “speeding ticket” for going 34mph in a 25 (west End Ave) …that’s infinitely more punishment than any of these riders get for speeding/running red lights & driving an illegal unregistered vehicle. How is that fair???

    9. Gilligan says:

      Not a single one of these things will have even a microscopic impact on this.

    10. Err part of the reason is boredom. How about finding/creating a place for them to go? This article mentions Ward’s Island, why not create something there?

    11. Marci says:

      Sounds to me like a whole lot of nothing is going to get done about this situation. When do they come through? When don’t they come through is more the question. They’re around all weekend, weekdays beginning at 5:00 pm or so, 2:15 am on Sunday night. It’s endless.We had friends in (all vaccinated) on Saturday night and we had to stop our conversation every time they came by because we couldn’t hear each other. There’s a police presence in my neighborhood (69th & Broadway), but I never see one when these groups come through, and I don’t think that’s a coincidence. They don’t want to deal with it.

    12. EGF says:

      These recommendations are infuriating! This response is exactly why NYC has a sense of lawlessness right now. No culpability for anyone breaking the law, no matter how big or small.

    13. Ken Collins says:

      Bravo.

    14. Victor says:

      it is not only a safety issue, but a Quality of Life issue. These bikers ride between 10pm and midnight, and the noise is horrific.
      The police don’t have to chase, they can put police cars across avenue, and stop the racing.

    15. Victor says:

      Let them ride thru Central Park in late night hours or weekends…..but I guess it would disturb the wild life

    16. Carlos says:

      I am shocked by how many people here find no problem with these riders. Have you seen them? They are a huge pack that blocks traffic (but the woke UWS hates cars so that doesn’t matter!), they make a lot of noise, and they run red lights, which is very dangerous.

      I think many of the same people who wanted to guillotine the electric bike rider who unfortunately hit the man from Jing Fong while going the right way in a bike lane have no problem with this. Hypocrisy, anyone?

    17. Will says:

      Why not interview some of these guys and engage with them rather than treat them as some distant and foreign group of people who don’t speak the same language?

    18. D P says:

      My kindergarten age daughter and I were almost hit trying to cross the street last week when a small group of ATVs turned and went against the lights last week. They then proceeded to go to the next intersection and did doughnuts across the entire avenue (again, against the lights) before they tore off at a high rate of speed down a side street. Someone is going to be hurt or killed by these bikers. And then there is the noise and quality of life issues.
      If you follow the lights, aren’t trying to deafen the people in the neighborhoods you ride through, and are aware of pedestrians and people you share the road with, then do wheelies and tricks please. Traffic rules are traffic rules.
      I find this as irritating as the drivers on Riverside Blvd who lay on their horns because you actually stop at a stop signs.

      • Leigh says:

        Totally agree. I could care less about the noise because it usually is so brief. I’m more concerned about them running red lights and pulling the type of stunt you saw. It endangers everyone else in the area. Why does it seem like they’re waiting for a tragic accident to occur before they really take this seriously?!

    19. Chris says:

      It’s not like they aren’t predictable. Why can’t the police set up a trap to corral them, arrest them, fine them, and confiscate and destroy their illegal vehicles?

    20. ben says:

      I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Set up police barricades and block them in. Done, no chase, no mess, no fuss. ‘oh we don’t chase them because that might lead to pedestrian safety concerns’ is nothing more than BS excuse.

    21. Steve says:

      are there not photographs of these folks as they run red lights? specifically, the automatic cameras at 96th street and amsterdam. acquire license plate numbers, and send them hefty fines and a copy of the photograph?

      • Jay says:

        They don’t have license plates.

        You can’t corral dirt bikes. They will ride on the sidewalk to avoid or they will just turn around and go around on a side street. The cops would rather play candy crush than deal with this and I can’t say I blame them.

        • Sam Katz says:

          You don’t blame them? Because being an a-hole, breaking the law, creating noise pollution, creating a public safety hazard, and being reckless and stupid “is your thing?” What if one hits you and kills you? Will your tombstone read, “No problem. He was having fun!” — ?!?

    22. GG says:

      Just a friendly reminder:

      This is NYC. NOT a gated community in the suburbs!

      Let’s take all the kvetching down a notch, OK?

      Thanks.

    23. Bb Indc says:

      We can shake our fists and ask rhetorically, “will someone think of the children?!?!”

      Your five points are milquetoast descriptions of traffic laws and law Enforcement.

    24. BB says:

      The City will continue to become less “livable”. This will either result in a backlash with all it’s horror or a spiral toward an unlivable City with urban flight. It seems unlikely a moderate prepared to addressi these issues in a humane way while enhancing the quality of life can survive our primary system.

    25. Acme says:

      These are “stimulus bikes” that sell for just about the same amount as the pandemic relief money. I thought abt getting one myself bc they look like fun and they’re so affordable. But, bc you can’t register them, I decided not to since cops can seize them for no plates. Ppl would presumably ride more responsibly if identifiable via license plate.

    26. Resident of Central Park says:

      They’ve been on Central Park and 97th Street and the police see them from the cameras on traffic & Street lights all over the cross streets and do nothing. One bike went after me when I attempted to cross south.

    27. Troy Bagby says:

      Why not jus get a spot that can be police covered and let US RIDE!I think if there was a park for ATVs and DIRT BIKES to ride….it would clear the streets a little.

    28. Neil says:

      I live half the year in NYC, half in Vermont, where towns are deeply divided and embattled because of ATV issues. ATVs belong on dirt trails, not on roads. And that’s according to ATV manufacturers! They’re incredibly noisy, dangerous on roadways, and difficult for police to catch and fine. I can’t believe they’re also now riding on NYC streets. Yes, enforce the law, issue hefty fines, and impound their machines until they pay.

    29. Jay says:

      Photograph them in motion. So as to ID the riders and capture detailed images of the dirtbikes and ATVs–color, make, model, any decals, specialized wheels, etc.

      The Canon 1DX III or Sony A1 or Nikon D6 would be good cameras.

      The Nikon and the Sony have extraordinary tracking autofocus, and the Canon’s tracking autofocus is near extraordinary. The Nikon’s lowlight performance is the best of the bunch.

      The bodies start around $5500, and the lens would be another $6000 to $12,000. All this gear can be rented, for approximately $1400 per week for a lens and body, if your credit card can withstand the deposit.

      Go to. If you think you’re a good photographer, you’ll still need to practice, that’s why you’ll want to rent the gear for more than a weekend.

      Then once you have good still images, share the fullsized jpegs (shoot raw originally) with the police and general public.

      No, especially at night, the decent DSLR you bought in 2014 is not going to help here. Nor will video, unless you mean you’re shooting full frame raw video at 4K 60FPS with a $40,000 video kit.

    30. John socia says:

      I have been riding and racing off road for 53 years. I have raced from Canada to Florida and have met great people. These idiots that ride dirt bikes in the city are just irresponsible and giving off readers a bad name. If you want to ride a dirt bike, there are places to do that legally. G.S

    31. morris shamah says:

      But even more common and dangerous to the pedestrian and to the car driver are the many electric bikes, motor cycles, power scooters, power boards etc that are on the streets.
      Some of these are going at 20-30 MPH, most defy all traffic rules, many go against traffic and are a hazard to someone crossing the street and not looking the “wrong way”
      Many will assume they can ride right in thre auto lane, in front of the driver, even on only a skateboard-
      BUT NON ARE REGISTERED< NONE HAVE INSURANCE AND ALL ARE DANGEROUS.
      So if one hits a pedestrian , with no license plate, the driver can just leave with no way of knowing his name. Also, even if his name is known, he surely lacks insurance to cover his "vehicle"

      I have NEVER seen police stopping these dangerous vehicles for any violations.

    32. js says:

      Honestly, more fearful about “regular” cyclists, t-scooters, and skateboarders – most of whom run red lights, go the wrong way. Everyone in my family has been hit by cyclists.

    33. AP71 says:

      This is a huge problem in Brooklyn as well. My window overlooks a major intersection and I watch multiple times a day as they speed through red light after red light, narrowly missing pedestrians, strollers and cyclists. I have never seen a single officer stop or ticket even one of these dangerous scofflaws.

      I have to close my windows if I’m on a work call because the noise is deafening (even 10 flights up and a block away). These bikers are reckless, inconsiderate, selfish and completely unconcerned with others’ safety.

    34. Guest says:

      Only way is to track them via blanket surveillance. See where they are stored and come get them then.

    35. Dani says:

      Is this only happening on the UWS or is it going on in other neighborhoods in Manhattan?

      • lynn says:

        Check Google and you may be surprised at how widespread this problem is. One weekend on the UES a large group of of motorcycles and ATVs roared across 90th street and up Park Avenue. The noise was deafening. Imagine driving a car full of kids and suddenly being surrounded by grown men who are intentionally cutting you off and riding in circles around you. These are not young boys having fun on their bicycles. I wonder how long it will be before a driver hits the gas instead of the brakes, and we’ll all be discussing who was at fault. 🙁

    36. SM says:

      The authorities must enforce noise and traffic laws as written or the legislature must change them. Anything else is pure corruption masquerading as sensitivity.

    37. Lynn says:

      The bottom line is ATV’s are illegal on City streets, should only be used in rural areas. This is not entertaining as some of you have said. It’s meant to intimadate people, it’s not safe, there is a deliberate agenda to say to people, basically f–k you. This should not be acceptable.

    38. Art says:

      Terrible ideas but hopefully the start of a conversation to find a place where this group can enjoy what they do and get rid of the serious nuisance and public safety problems inherent with their rides on public streets.

      I hope also addressed is the significant and ubiquitous hazard of primarily white men in Lycra who often ride their bikes in packs at high speeds , through red lights, as they most likely fantasize they are participating in the Tour de France. They certainly own the road and show no remorse nor fear about their bad and illegal behaviors.

      • CriticalWestSider says:

        Easily the best post in the thread! Why is it when it’s particular people of color, riding at similar spaces to the fleet of white people in lycra, that a five-point plan needs to be made. This is rhetorical. I know the answer. It’s racist.

        Art, I am curious what your few points may be to address the valid safety issue. I fear that a track elsewhere is not the kind of counterculture many of these people probably are looking for.

      • Ted says:

        What follows is a quote from a CDC MMWR paper entitled Emergency Department Visits for Bicycle-Related Traumatic Brain Injuries Among Children and Adults — United States, 2009–2018:

        An estimated 596,972 ED visits for bicycle-related TBIs occurred in the United States during the study period. Rates of ED visits were highest among adult males (aged ≥18 years)

    39. Sam Katz says:

      By the way, the riders know it’s illegal. They also know the noise is excruciatingly loud, which is what they enjoy — like a boom box in a public place. They don’t ride for the ride; they ride for the ego trip of annoying people who cannot do anything about it. They do it precisely to wake people up in the wee hours of the night. When a reporter once asked Sir Laurence Olivier why people become actors, he answered, “Look at me! Look at me! Look at me! Look at me! Look at me!” It’s the same thing, without any artistry. It is completely ego driven. Otherwise they would ride where they are supposed to ride — where dirt is; hence they’re called dirt bikes.

    40. Ted says:

      A few years ago I took video of a huge group of these type vehicles passing southbound through the intersection of 80th and B-way. When the signal turned red the procession continued to race through the intersection. This went on for 4-5 signal cycles. A few riders also were riding south in the north bound lanes of Broadway.

      Needless to say this struck me as being very dangerous behavior. I think the city is right to attempt to curtail it.

    41. Carl says:

      I think this article is sickening. Yes there illegal, but why does everything in America have to be a crime?? Increase fines? Seriously!! People need to live a little and stop trying to make everyone’s life miserable. We should increase your fines for not having a dirtbike.

      • Eli says:

        A society functions by the adherence to a set of rules that provide a chance to optimize the wellbeing of the largest percentage of the population. This behavior is enjoyable to a very small number, and dangerous, disruptive, and threatening to a much larger number.

        I’m shocked people are defending them. It’s illegal and it’s unsafe. It should be stopped.

        FWIW, I ride a motorcycle and love riding a motorcycle. It brings me a lot of joy, but I don’t ride like a jerk because it puts me and others at risk.

        • UWSaida says:

          Couldn’t agree more. Motorcycle rider here as well – i understand the riders find it fun and I enjoy a well-executed wheelie as much as anyone, but it’s really dangerous and destabilizing to the public. The city is hard enough to live in/keep safe, I’m for shutting these riders down. Safely if possible, with muscle if not. Or we can wait until a child gets run over and hand-wringing can ensue. If there is a way to provide them the occasional sanctioned ride in return for ending the mad max-style nightly parades, I’d be fine with that too but don’t think it’s realistic.

    42. Alisa says:

      Less of a nuisance than rogue bike riders