In the years Barbara Dolensek has lived on quiet City Island, wild motorcycle noise has been part of the summer’s daily soundtrack.
“I think the noise has gotten worse,” said Dolensek, head of the City Island Civic Association, who also happens to have difficulty hearing.
It’s affected slice of life events in the community, including performances by the City Island Theater Group, which once held outdoor performances at Hawkins Park.
“They can’t do it because it’s too noisy,” said Dolensek.
Like tourists paying a stop to the nautical neighborhood over the summer, scores of cyclists frequently aim their hogs for the east Bronx isle, their souped up mufflers shattering the still tone often linked to the low key community.
A recent YouTube video showed one cyclist documenting his road trip to City Island with two friends, explaining to viewers their ride is part of a yearly ritual kicking off the summer.
“We probably do six or seven rides easy,” said the narrator, dubbed Bronx 48. He abided by all traffic rules.
In many cases the sound has been deafening, including dogs who bark at cyclists rushing down City Island Ave., the main commercial strip.
It’s also home to the Kaleidoscope Gallery, where store clerk Nicole Nielson compares the influx as part of a seasonal trend.
“They come in packs of maybe 20 to 30 people,” said Nielson, 29. “Even when there’s car traffic, they ride on the fire lane. They don’t care how fast they go.”
Many cyclists are simply weekend warriors, part of groups like the Bronx Motorcycle Club, who use social media and their official websites to spread word of a run to the isle.
“They have websites and I believe that some City Island restaurants advertised on those sites,” said Dolensek, adding many shoot down to eateries such as Johnny’s Reef Restaurant. Before that, many cyclists parked their bikes at Tony’s Pier, until it was knocked out from an electrical fire caused by Hurricane Sandy.
Ever the detective, Dolensek sought answers to this often annoying quality of life issue, eventually meeting an avid cyclist who offered an explanation.
“She said, ‘If it really bothers you, you have nobody to blame but yourself, because once you re-did the roads and made them, it’s a great place to ride,’” recalled Dolensek. “‘It’s your fault.’”
Along with paved roads, a lack of traffic lights at City Island, particularly at its south end, inspires many cyclists to hit their engines at full throttle.
After midnight, Dolensek can hear drag races touch off well after police from the understaffed 45th Precinct have left for the night.
“They do wheelies,” said Dolensek. “Depends on how much they’re drinking or showing off to their girlfriends.”
Residents have urged the Four-Five to step up crackdowns, which they have, though manpower has been scant for the precinct, geographically the biggest in the city.
Four-Five Capt. James McGeown said banning cyclists from City Island is not an option.
“We can’t tell vehicles you can’t go in unless there’s a law limiting traffic,” he said. “We’ll get more officers so we can delegate or have a steady patrol.”
A truck driver unloading supplies at the Lickety Split Ice Cream shop mentioned the cyclists are “here to spend money. So let them spend money.”David Cruz can be reach via e-mail at DCruz@cnglocal.com or by phone at (718) 742-3383
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