By Daniel Katzive
It is a frequent refrain heard at community meetings: can’t the police do anything to stop the roving pods of dirt bikes and four-wheeled all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) that range across the city on weekends? The loud groups block highways and often disregard traffic rules while performing dangerous wheelies and stunts. The vehicles themselves are not registered or insured and cannot be ridden legally on public streets in New York State.
In response to community concerns, the NYPD on Tuesday announced a Summer 2022 Motorbikes Plan “as part of its continuing effort to both rid the streets of the illegal bikes, and to raise public awareness about the serious consequences of riding them.” The plan emphasizes intelligence gathering, community outreach, and targeted confiscation rather than direct confrontations.
Police will rarely attempt to arrest or stop the riders mid-excursion. As Captain Neil Zuber of the 20th Precinct explained at a Upper West Side Coalition forum of local precinct commanders last month:
“You’re not going to see us getting into high speed vehicle pursuits down Broadway or on Columbus Avenue or Amsterdam, because that’s just much more dangerous. They are already breaking the law, they are not going to stop for the police. In fact if they see a marked police car, chances are they’re going to start showing off even more and you’re going to take even more risks.”
At the forum Captain Zuber and his counterpart in the 24th Precinct, Deputy Inspector Naoki Yaguchi, emphasized efforts to identify riders and confiscate off-road vehicles in places where they are parked and stored rather than public confrontations.
The NYPD’s Summer Motorbikes Plan contains many elements similar to those described by the precinct commanders in May. Key highlights of the plan include:
- Operations to find and confiscate illegal vehicles kept on New York City Housing Authority property;
- Mapping motorbike ride-outs and identifying storage and meeting spots;
- Deploying Neighborhood Coordination Officers (NCOs), Traffic Safety Officers and Youth Coordination Officers (YCOs) to raise awareness and educate the community; and,
- Analyzing 311 reports in real time to track packs of riders.
When the NYPD is able to confiscate illegal bikes, they are destroyed so that they will not eventually return to the streets. The NYPD’s press release this week indicates that 92 such vehicles were destroyed at the Erie Basin Auto Pound in Brooklyn on Tuesday and that another 588 are at the pound awaiting a similar fate. According to the release, “Between January 1 and June 16 this year, the NYPD seized 1,921 of these vehicles – an 87.9% increase compared with the 1,022 vehicles seized in the same period last year.”
The NYPD indicates the vehicles “are only destroyed after extensive efforts to determine legal ownership fails….”
Illegal dirtbikes and ATVs endanger the lives of New Yorkers. We're not letting them go unchecked.
This year we've already taken nearly 2,000 bikes off the street and we're just getting started.
Get the message: you want to terrorize our neighborhoods?
You'll get crushed. pic.twitter.com/snHjqfWr90
— Mayor Eric Adams (@NYCMayor) June 21, 2022
There is a simple solution to curb most of this. Car dealers can’t let a car off a lot without proof of insurance and at least a temporary registration.
Why can’t this apply to any vehicle that, per law, has to be registered and insured?
The vehicles as designed are generally not approved for street use and cannot be registered or insured. However, they are legal to purchase and own for off road use and are generally transported to off road locations in trucks. The dealer would not be able to verify what the buyer intends to use the vehicle for.
Just to clarify, ATVs are registered in NY when purchased but are not registered and licensed for street use like cars and standard motorcycles.
It would benefit Mayor Adam’s greatly to have more examples of how he is distancing himself from the policies of the last administration and continuing to take control of the QoL issues that impact those living in the city and which continue to tear at the social fabric. This, however, is a terrific start.
Might I add:
– Enforcing policies associated with riding motorized and motor-assisted vehicles on the sidewalk.
– Enforcing basic traffic violations such as blowing red lights.
yes, he’s definitely not marketing himself as the Anti-De Blasio. In fact, there’s not a lot of evidence that he’s done much at all on any front. But he still has time.
Any reporting on the riders themselves receiving summonses? What’s the penalty other than taking away their bike which can be replaced…..
6 months in and Adam’s admin is shaping up to be a disappointment. Thumbs up in a gif makes a good tweet but I have yet to see any substantial change in ensuring safety of New Yorkers. Meanwhile, the cops continue to use “oh we can’t chase people down it’s a safety issue” as an excuse to not to ANYTHING at all. They wouldn’t flag down an ATV if the ATV bombed down the street right in front of them.
You might be right that its an excuse for poilice….but I, for one, would not like to see a car chase scene on our busy avenues. That would be a recipe for damage and, likely, death for some innocent pedestrians.
Why wouldn’t we sell perfectly functioning seized equipment? Do we have an excess of money I don’t know about? How about donating them to someplace that uses them correctly upstate?? I feel like I’m living in loony toons land omg
Fair point, but what place(s) upstate or even nationwide has virtually unlimited, unsatisfied need for these, with the mechanism to ensure they don’t get sold on? I’m afraid leaving them out there will just further reduce the price in the secondary market and make them even more accessible. They’d be back in NYC rapidly.
I assume there is ZERO paperwork on these bikes.
It’s a photo op to appease voters to think he’s actually doing something. Adams makes me miss De Blasio
It’s something, but in the end, a drop in the bucket. They make all our lives miserable.
How to do propose to enforce the law about no riding on sidewalks? How many police would it take to do the enforcement? Do you really think they can chase down a motorized bike or even one not motorized?
How do you stop a moving vehicle on the sidewalk? Put yourself in front. Run after the bike and grab it? You get my drift here?
I would rather they focus on the electric bikes that obey no traffic laws. That’s a constant danger as opposed to a weekend nuisance.
I don’t disagree but when a) the price for your takeout Chinese food goes up even more and/or b) your beloved wonton soup shows up cold because it took longer to get to you, I don’t want to hear any complaining…
Does this include motorcycles and the horrible noise they make as groups roar up and down avenues at all hours? Why can they make such noise and cars have to have mufflers?
A great and necessary initiative. Not only are these things a source of appalling noise pollution, but they are dangerous to the riders (who are amazingly reckless), to pedestrians, bikes and other vehicles. Quality of Life is what the city is all about. Let’s not forget that.
Good work by the police and the mayor!
The photo of the bikes getting crushed and Adams’s use of the word “crush” both make their clear and obvious point to the testosterone driven narcissists who “ride” these things on our streets. There’s no “education” possible with these folks. The only thing they respond to is the probability of getting crushed.
“Uh,oh! That big crushing machine is bigger than my machine. Maybe I shouldn’t ride mine anymore!”
This is the world they live in. Adams understands that.
Capt Zuber’s statement is pathetic. When people openly violate the law the police should intervene. Where did they come with this nonsense — it sounds like what the police captain did in Baltimore in the wire with respect to drug dealing, and he ended losing his job. And by the way, the police need to enforce the law with motorbikes and motorcycles and skooters which entirely ignore traffic lights, go the wrong way on one way streets, and even sometimes drive on sidewalks. You have to be room temperature not to realize what is going on, and the danger posed to pedestrians. It is no longer sufficient to look one way when crossing a one way street with the walk sign, you also have to look the other way. And think of the risk to the disabled, who are less mobile and may depend on the traffic lights to cross safely. If this problem is not addressed by Capt Zuber, then our politicians will have to engage but either way the populace will insist that this be handled rather than ignored. What does Capt Zuber think we hire and pay the police to do — passively watch and not do anything? That stinks.
You are free to imagine that you are a some sort of super hero who can stop a speeding bullet and a racing bike and motorized, high speed ATV already running red lights and illegal tricks. You’re living in fantasy land. Here’s what cops do: enforce the law to the best of their abilities with the equipment they are given and without getting killed, if they can. Here’s what they can’t do: even wrestle a perp and touch their Diaphragm without possibly getting arrested. indicted, and sentenced in violation of the Diaphragm Compression Law. Sadly, it’s civilians who vote for ridiculous laws that hamstring the police, and then they complain wildly when the police don’t, because they can’t, do every miracle that should be performed. Please explain in great detail how a police officer, either in a car or not, can stop a gang on high speed ATVs zooming down a crowded area at night. Go ahead. I’ll wait. Should the cops create a double fold danger by doubling the vehicles zooming along, or should they indiscriminately open fire at speeding vehicles and kill people in what is a non-death penalty offense. Tell me. I’m all ears.
I’d love to see you explain to the Community Board or a debrief room full of cops the tactical developments in the following two scenarios when the typical caravan of 250+ illegal vehicles, driven by 16-30 yr-olds, is rolling up Amsterdam b/n 74 and 78 on a sunny Saturday evening, and encounters:
1) One (or 2, or 5, or 10) random cop(s) walking down the street who decide to “interfere”, or
2) 400 cops in full riot gear, with armored vehicles and cement trucks hidden in the side streets, whose presence is somehow unnoticed and they’re, miraculously, able to box in all the vehicles in that area.
Quarterback the next 15 minutes for us in each case.
Yesterday on Broadway two traffic officers were ticketing a car parked by a fire hydrant when two unlicensed Atv/motorbikes and their drivers showed up. They parked on the same hydrant and walked away knowing the traffic officers couldn’t ticket them. I asked the officers why they didn’t call the 24th precinct 6 blocks away and ask for the police to confiscate the bikes. They said they weren’t allowed to do that and that I should call 911. As I was about to enter the subway at 94th St and frustrated I didn’t bother because either I’d wait there for police to show up eventually or the riders would take off before they arrived. Seems like traffic personnel could be put to better use.
But they know the laws and civilians don’t. That’s the problem. Insane laws hampering enforcement of everything have been put in place by our esteemed NYC Council over the past ten years that make it impossible to do anything.
Somehow I suspect the gangs of looters and and the gangs of actual gangs are a bigger problem. Funny how we don’t hear anything about all of the success they’re having dealing with those issues…
Guess you missed the news of a major bust of a major fencing operation that took place a few weeks ago. The NYPD caught the Grand PooBah of a major fencing ring that took in warehouses full of product from smash and grabs and resold it on ebay. They got the gang. It will help if you pay attention through the snark.
They should be focusing on the e-bikes racing down unmarked / unclear bike lanes which can seriously harm pedestrians, as opposed to dirt bikes you barely see that stay in the lane of cars.
Bike lanes are, by definition, marked. It’s unclear what you mean by unclear. E-bikes in bike lanes are legal.
I know this might be a shock, but I think they can focus on both. This particular article deals with one type of vehicle.