NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- New legislation aimed at curbing loud dirt bikes and ATVs on New York City streets would dramatically increase fines and penalties for those who operate them.
The bill, sponsored by City Councilman Mark Gjonaj, targets those who recklessly operate dirt bikes, off-road vehicles and cars as problems reach what he calls a crisis level that endangers New Yorkers.
In the first quarter of 2021, city officials say there were eight deaths and more than 350 injuries caused by people operating vehicles illegally on streets and sidewalks.
"This chaos must end," Gjonaj said. "These motorcycles are endangering not only pedestrians and other motorists, but are creating havoc and lawlessness in New York City."
Despite the fact that operating dirt bikes is already illegal, the city is currently experiencing a dramatic increase in dangerous dirt bike riding and auto-drag racing.
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Gjonaj says the current penalty structure isn't enough of a deterrent for those who seek to turn local communities into life-threatening speedways.
Currently, the fine for operating dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles on city roadways is $500 for first offense and $1,000 for additional offense.
The new legislation would increase fines to $750 for the first offense and $1,500 for all additional offenses,
"I was almost trampled by one passing a green light," Westchester Square Executive Director Yasmin Cruz said. "They do not care about the traffic lights. We can't wait until something greater happens."
The NYPD announced earlier this year that it was offering cash rewards for the public's help during a crackdown on illegal motorcycles and ATVs on city streets.
Residents who report where illegal vehicles are being stored could collect $100 per motorbike seized.
Dirt bikes and ATVs cannot be registered as street-legal motor vehicles because they lack safety equipment like brake lights, turn signals and mirrors.
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Chief of Department Rodney Harrison issued a warning to those who operate them.
"They are illegal and dangerous," he said. "Don't ride them. If you do, you are endangering yourself and others."
Police say they rarely initiate pursuits because of the potential danger to officers and the public, but they will confiscate motorbikes when they are parked in public.
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