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Proposed Ordinance Would Ban Gasoline Sales To Illegally Operated Dirt Bikes

dirt bikes
Springfield Police Dept

     There is a proposal in Springfield, Massachusetts to combat the problem of illegal dirt bikes by shutting off the fuel supply. 

   An ordinance being considered by the Springfield City Council would make it illegal for a gas station to sell fuel for an off-highway vehicle such as a dirt bike, mini-cycle, or all-terrain vehicle if it is driven up to the pumps.

    The proposal by City Councilor Orlando Ramos is another attempt to crack down on people riding dirt bikes, frequently in groups, illegally on city streets. 

    "This is not going to solve the issue altogether," said Ramos. "Our goal is to just make it harder for these illegal dirt bikes to operate."

    To discourage illegal use of dirt bikes, the City Council last year upped the fine to $300 and asked the state legislature for authorization to let police seize a dirt bike, seek a court ordered ownership forfeiture, and destroy the vehicle.

   "We're trying to combat this issue of illegal dirt bikers on our roads that has been a major problem," Ramos said.

    Springfield Police have organized special patrols and at times used air surveillance from a Massachusetts State Police helicopter to pursue and arrest people riding dirt bikes on city streets.

     Speaking at a hearing of the City Council Public Safety Committee, Springfield Police Sergeant Richard Pelchar said for the ordinance banning gasoline sales to be effective, municipalities that border Springfield would need to do the same.

    "I honestly think it will have an impact over time," Pelchar said.  "Do I think it is going to be an immediate stop measure? No."

    City Councilor Justin Hurst questioned who would be responsible for publicizing and enforcing the gasoline sales ban if it is approved.

    "My fear is that you may very well have those individuals working at these stores having confrontations with these motorists as they decide not to allow them to get gas," Hurst said.

    Ramos said Mayor Domenic Sarno supports the proposal.

    He said similar legislation is on the books now in some cities in Connecticut.

    At the urging of other Councilors, Ramos said he would schedule another hearing to look at the enforcement experience in Connecticut.


Paul Tuthill is WAMC’s Pioneer Valley Bureau Chief. He’s been covering news, everything from politics and government corruption to natural disasters and the arts, in western Massachusetts since 2007. Before joining WAMC, Paul was a reporter and anchor at WRKO in Boston. He was news director for more than a decade at WTAG in Worcester. Paul has won more than two dozen Associated Press Broadcast Awards. He won an Edward R. Murrow award for reporting on veterans’ healthcare for WAMC in 2011. Born and raised in western New York, Paul did his first radio reporting while he was a student at the University of Rochester.
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