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Albany Bans ATVs And Dirt Bikes From Public Property

ayor Kathy Sheehan joined Police Chief Eric Hawkins and Councilmembers Richa
Dave Lucas
Mayor Kathy Sheehan joined Police Chief Eric Hawkins and Councilmembers Richard Conti, Joyce Love, and Alfredo Balarin today to sign Local Law E of 2021, banning the use of ATVs and Dirt Bikes on city streets and parks.

Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan signed legislation Wednesday banning ATVs and dirt bikes from city streets and parks.

Credit WAMC photo by Dave Lucas
An impounded dirt bike outside Albany City Hall.

"The message today is very clear. Do not bring your ATV or dirt bike into the city of Albany, do not operated on our city streets, do not write it in our city parks, because you are not only putting our residents, including small children at risk, but it will cost you $3,000 to get it back. I am a resident of Arbor Hill. And I can tell you that over these last two summers and particularly this year, the disruption caused by these vehicles is unconscionable. We live in a neighborhood where we expect to be able to sit out on our own porch and hear ourselves talk. What happens often now with these bikes, and oftentimes we see them a hundred at a time going the wrong way up one way streets, constantly circling around and around and around. It is waking up children. It is disrupting people's lives. It is illegal and it has no place on our city streets.”

Albany Police Chief Eric Hawkins says the issue has gone from a nuisance to a danger:

"Every single day, I am receiving a complaint from a resident about the destructiveness and what's happening with these vehicles in our streets. And it's very dangerous. We have our officers who are out there diligently trying to address this issue. And in the meantime, officers are being injured. We're having uninvolved people who are in danger. The individuals who are riding these illegal ATVs and dirt bikes are in danger. “

Third ward Common Councilor Joyce Love would like to see the dirt bike riders catch a break.

"These motorcycles, these ATVs, have no business in the street. But what I would like to do is sit down with the 15-member Council and figure out where we can find a spot where these kids, young kids, can ride these things at."

Mayor Sheehan has a different take:

" I understand that there are people who say, you need to provide a place for this to happen. That's not what this is about. These are individuals who engage in this behavior on city streets because that's where they want to ride these bikes. I've had mothers tell me stories in tears about picking their children up from daycare, strapping their child into a car seat, getting behind the wheel of their car and becoming surrounded by these dirt bikes, and feeling as though they can't even move. So you know, this is a real problem. It is a menace. This is not just people out there having fun. These are people out there creating danger and it needs to stop.”

11th Ward Common Councilor Alfredo Balarin points out that new law also allows the city to sell or destroy repossessed vehicles unclaimed after 60 days.

"The worst part is that many of these individuals are coming from outside the city. And they're bringing their bikes here thinking that they can do it safely, or get away with it ,not safely, but get away with it. And this policy is gonna tell them, stay in your neighborhood, stay where you are, don't come to our city. Because if you're going to come to our city, we're going to take it, we're going to break it and you're going to pay for it. "

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.
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