Locals fearful of bikers roaring through one Bronx neighborhood can breathe easy – for now.
Cops at the 43rd Precinct have drawn first blood in their annual tussle with dirt bikers riding illegally through the neighborhood.
Police at the precinct, which covers Castle Hill and Soundview, say they’ve seized 31 dirt bikes and arrested 27 riders since April 1.
‘Hell on wheels’
The crackdown comes as a relief to locals who complain that packs of bikers usurp the neighborhood when the weather heats up.
“They ride around doing wheelies in our public parks, flying right by our kids and senior citizens,” said Izzy Morales, president of the Castle Hill Homeowners Association. “They don’t care who’s in their way.”
Dirt bikers have been a common summer sight in many of the city’s neighborhoods for years, zooming through streets in packs and not following traffic rules.
Police are instructed not to chase the dirt bikers, but instead to target them while they are refueling at gas stations or entering or leaving their garages.
“We want them when they are in a stopped position,” said one police source. “We’re not going to get into any sort of chase with these guys because it’s way too dangerous.”
Carving park paths
Soundview and Castle Hill are especially popular with dirt bikers traveling to and from Soundview Park and Pugsley Creek Park, where they are known to test out their latest moves.
Without any trails that they are allowed to use, riders in the parks simply carve out their own dirt paths.
Many of the riders are youths from the area looking to have fun, said Morales – but the way they ride is a danger to the pedestrians around them.
“It’s a shame that they don’t have trails to ride on,” said the Castle Hill local. “It’s important that the kids know it’s not like we want to stop them from riding, but that the way they do it in the community is not accepted.”
Bikers riding to and from the park are a menace, said Francisco Gonzalez, the longtime district manager of Community Board 9, whose office is flooded with bike-related complaints every year.
“I’ve seen them many times drive against traffic on Castle Hill Avenue,” said Gonzalez. “Many of them are not licensed or even insured. I’m fearful for the general public, the mother with baby carriage, or the senior citizen who might not get out of their way.”
Pols applaud seizures
Local elected officials have recently taken aim at the illegal riders. Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. proposed a bill last summer that would ban the bikers from filling up at local gas stations.
The Beep also challenged the NYPD to create an “action plan” to tackle the issue.
State Senator Jeff Klein, another local pol whose office has fielded complaints about the bikers, praised the Four Three for being pro-active about the dirt bike danger.
“Thanks to the hard work of the 43rd precinct, we’ve been able to reduce illegal racing in our parks and on our streets,” said Klein. “By working together, we can succeed in sending the message that dirt bike racing is not welcome in our backyard.”