New Haven’s Dirt Bike Menace rolled into City Hall for a candid rap with outraged lawmakers. No one left singing “Kumbaya.”
The menace arrived Tuesday night in the form of one Justin (he didn’t give his last name), a 17-year-old self-described lifelong aficionado of illegally tearing up New Haven roads on dirt bikes.
He showed up at a meeting of the Board of Aldermen’s City Services and Environmental Policy Committee. The committee held a public hearing in response to a growing outcry across town to rein in illegal dirt bike and ATV riders. The riders, sometimes alone, sometimes in large packs, have been roaring along streets and sidewalks, sometimes running into people (including a 7-year-old girl), popping wheelies, waking up neighbors, weaving in and out of cars and flouting traffic laws.
Justin sat quietly in the back of the aldermanic chamber with his 17-year-old dirt bike buddy Mike (he didn’t give his last name either) as a parade of adults addressed the committee. They came from Fair Haven. They came from the Heights. They came from Edgewood. They came from Westville. They made the same plea: Help! Do something!
Justin sat as a fellow Fair Havener, Mary Ann Moran (pictured), described volunteering at an after-school program with little kids outside Clinton Avenue School when dirt bikers suddenly sped across a playing field right toward them at 60 miles per hour. She described how hundreds of Chatham Square neighbors were enjoying a festival in their reclaimed park when a bunch of bikers suddenly roared by and terrorized them.
“There can be two. There can be 20. They come from nowhere. They don’t want to talk to you,” said Moran, a Fair Haven activist who has lived in the neighborhood for 33 years.
“Get them off the road and let’s find something for these boys to do. We’ve solved major problems in this city. We can solve this.”
Justin continued sitting as another Fair Havener, Liz Laverty (pictured), spoke of having trouble driving down her street when faced with 30 dirt bikers. She spoke of how one of her 11 month-old daughter Nora’s first words was “brrrrrrrrrr...” As in the noise of dirt bikes.
Justin (at right in photo, beside Mike) sat for about an hour in the back before he took a seat at a table in the front to address nine assembled aldermen. He did the talking. Mike offered moral support in the form of an occasional second.
“I came out tonight because Vinny asked me to come up and speak. I didn’t come here to start no trouble or nothing like that,” Justin began.
“I see how y’all looking at it like we’re a nuisance to the community,” Justin said. “I don’t take it like that. … It’s just something I do. I love riding. I’ve been riding forever, since I was a little kid. I don’t do it out of spite to bother people and upset the community.”
The Questioning Begins
Several aldermen asked Justin if he’d consider riding legally, off the street, if the city found a big space to set aside for dirt biking. Sure, Justin said. He couldn’t vouch for the rest of the dirt bikers in town.
It was noted that a track exists in Milford. The cops have tried to convince Justin and other riders to go there; they even offered to pay to transport them. Didn’t fly.
Justin maintained a grin throughout his interrogation.
Alderwomen Brenda Jones-Barnes of Fair Haven Heights and Tyisha Walker of West River asked the young man if he had considered the concept of respect.
Jones-Barnes: Do you know anything about Connecticut driver’s laws?
Justin: I don’t know. It’s just what I do.
Jones-Barnes: I’m really only asking you this because those of us who are driving vehicles on the road have to abide by those laws. If you’re coming into contact with groups of people that are not only not abiding by it but weaving in and out … it’s a crash about to happen. … We’re also concerned about you … Do you know the rules of the road? There should be some mutual respect ...
Justin: I understand where you’re coming from there. It is totally breaking the law.
Jones-Barnes: It’s dangerous! If I’m on the sidewalk and somebody’s going to whiz by me, what part is safe for me to be on? If it’s not the road as a driver, if it’s not the sidewalk as a pedestrian, where are we supposed to go if people with dirt bikes think they own the road? Where’s the mutual respect? When are we going to get respect?
Walker: When you’re out riding bikes, do you ever consider not only your safety but the safety of other people?
Justin: I lost a lot of friends from riding motorcycles, not only dirt bikes … I see it like that is just something that is communication with cars and bikes. I know the dirt bikes don’t have lights or stuff on them. But if they’re riding at night, that’s their fault, not so much the traffic’s fault. It’s always on them [the dirt bikers]. That’s the risk.
Westville Alderman Adam Marchand tried pitching Justin on the non-motorized form of bike daredeviling.
Marchand: There’s a skate park in Edgewood Park. You can do tricks [with BMX bikes]. …
Justin: I always had a passion for dirt bikes.
Marchand: [A BMX bike] doesn’t sound like a chain saw. There’s no pollution. You end up getting physically fit. Exercise. Your legs are really strong. You look better.
Justin wasn’t buying. Nor did he leap at Marchand’s suggestion that he wear a helmet to protect himself. He did offer an explanation. “The only reason I don’t wear a helmet on the street, to really seriously tell you the truth,” Justin said, “is because it blocks my vision and I can’t see the cops. That’s why I don’t wear a helmet.”
That was enough for another Justin present at the hearing: East Rock Alderman Justin Elicker. He chairs the committee that held the hearing. (He’s also seriously considering a run for mayor.)
After his colleagues finished asking questions, Justin Elicker told Justin Dirt Biker that he saw no reason to bother trying to find him a space to ride his dirt bike legally in New Haven. The alderman proclaimed the dirt biker “arrogant” and bent on flouting the law.
“You’ve done it in front of the cops and haven’t stopped. You know you’re not supposed to do it,” Justin Elicker said. “You’re flagrantly flaunting the law in front of everyone. Why should we find you a place to ride?” (Click on the play arrow at the top of this story to watch portions of their exchange.)
Zona’s Solution: “Destroy The Bikes”
After Justin’s testimony, he continued fielding questions out in the hallway, from some of the besieged members of the public as well as Fair Haven Alderman Ernie Santiago. Click on the play arrow to view highlights.
Meanwhile, back at the hearing, Anastasio and Zona took a turn answering questions from the aldermen. They weren’t having any of this middle-ground find-them-a-place-to-ride stuff. They’d already tried all that, they said.
“My blood pressure went up a few notches” just listening to some of that talk, Anastasio reported.
“There’s a high for these kids: driving around around cars, getting chased by police. That’s their drug.”
Along with city Chief Administrative Officer Rob Smuts, they described the efforts they’ve made more recently to combat dirt bikes, and what they hope to try next.
They’ve confiscated around 100 illegal or illegally ridden dirt bikes in recent months they said. But under state law New Haven can’t charge more than $250 for the tow and storage. They can’t confiscate the bikes for good. So most of them end up back on the streets.
The three officials urged the public to give the police as much information as possible to help track down the bikers. They specifically suggested posting complaints, and photos if possible, on the See Click Fix website.
They also called for changing state law. They want the power to charge, say $2,000 before returning some vehicles, the way the city of Philadelphia is hoping to start doing. They’d like the legal power in some cases to destroy the bikes, so they never return to the road.
“Destroy the bikes! I don’t think there’s any other way around it,” Zona said. “I keep saying: Destruction.”
The aldermen arrived at a step they can take: They can draw up a resolution to ask the state legislature to make those changes to the law.
This issue should be addressed immediately - we shouldn’t have to wait until October 2013 for a hypothetical new State law to take effect.
posted by: Fairhavener on November 14, 2012 1:29am
I have always contended that one of the worse things about this open-air illegally operated (unregistered/uninsured) and many times stolen dirt bike business, where these brash youth and adults alike are “hey I am just enjoying myself” you know “having a little fun and staying out of trouble” is the effect it has on our next generation of little ones: case in point the baby up top. So many kids in my neighborhood are mimicking the lawlessness they see around them already, 3, 4, 5 and 7 year olds, following in these lawless foot steps!
Not to mention that the sheer noise negatively impacts our kids. If you’ve ever heard it, it is excruciating, not to mention when in packs of 30-40-50 riders tearing up our streets.
It is a cancer; the high from ridding dangerously, flaunting the law, and running away from the police. I doubt pouring money into a local dirt bike park is going to sate the addict’s need for their fix. Sgt. Zona is right, only by destroying the bikes are we ever going to come close to curring this cancer. Chemo and radiation are not enough for this patient, time to operate.
I’m sorry Doug does not like my drone idea, but I think it is creepy too. Yet, it would allow the police to follow without chasing, and arrive to confiscate the bike (with plenty of evidence) once the ride was over.
posted by: Wildwest on November 14, 2012 8:55am
Vinny and Anthony know where these kids live, GREAT! Now go take their bikes away!
A pack of about 30 riders went by my house twice on Sunday, tell me that police couldn’t nab a few of them easily???
I hope and I beg Justin and his buddies to do wheelies on Mayor Johns street. I will pitch in some gas money for that boys.
posted by: Fairhavener on November 14, 2012 9:01am
To the editor: odd that this is tagged under transportation. I get in my car or on my bike each day to get to work, shop, run errands, etc.
These young adults and older adults alike get on their bikes each day in the summer not to transport themselves places but to joyride at incredibly unsafe speeds, on one wheel, etc, to their heart’s content. In the process they endanger men, women, and especially children alike.
posted by: CarlosR on November 14, 2012 9:47am
I live in Fair Haven, with probably 50 kids under the age of 10 living in a 4 square block area. I’ve seen Justin Dirt Biker, many times, along with his buddies, running through stop signs, driving upwards of 50 miles an hour, and generally thumbing their noses at the police. Disrespect, as the Aldermen put it, barely begins to cover the issue. Do we have to wait until one of these knuckleheads runs over a toddler before this issue is taken seriously?
posted by: westville man on November 14, 2012 10:06am
Can you imagine Guilford, Branford or North Haven tolerating this level of lawlessness? Only in New Haven do the powers that be hide behind the mantra of “we have more serious issues to deal with”. In other words, nothing gets done.
posted by: THREEFIFTHS on November 14, 2012 10:06am
How about going after the mopeds and Bicycles riders who are also breaking the laws.
posted by: cedarhillresident! on November 14, 2012 10:27am
As a person that lives in one of the gateways to East Rock park. Our Alderman is constantly bringing up the issue of how important it is for us to call them in. They do SO much damage to the park. But it is a hard place for the PD to catch them.
I have thought of a track being part of the solution. The issue is law suits. A track would be a major liability. Unless there was some kind of a contract signed prior to using it by each person, each time. And the other issues is these kids would ride the bike to the tracks not tow them.
I think Zona offered up the only solution.
posted by: FrontStreet on November 14, 2012 10:33am
Was good to see the many law-abiding, tax-paying, community-minded adults taking the time to attend a meeting at City Hall on Tuesday night to discuss what has become an enormous quality of life issue in New Haven. The testimonies of these New Haven residents was at times moving and spoke to how much people value the experience and opportunity to live in the city. And what a danger and nuisance the dirtbikes and ATVs have become.
State legislators need to act this session to enable law enforcement to confiscate and destroy the dirtbikes and ATVs.
Can we have “I Love New Haven” workshops for offenders of quality of life crimes? Mugging, dirt bikes, bike theft, etc. grind on our nerves. Is there anything going into teaching good citizenship, and why it matters to all of us. “After paying the fine, you get your bike back after attending a three day workshop, followed by you going to the schools in New Haven and telling kids why New Haven is better than a million other places, and can be better for all of us if we all shape up.” Optimistic, I know. I love this town, can you teach that?
posted by: wustersq on November 14, 2012 11:38am
Through regulation, we have rendered our police force useless against this. When the police can longer protect the people, they must rise up and protect themselves. Or time and natural selection will eventually fix this problem.
posted by: KoskoNHR on November 14, 2012 11:39am
Response comment posted by Hhe
“It is a cancer; the high from ridding dangerously, flaunting the law, and running away from the police. I doubt pouring money into a local dirt bike park is going to sate the addict’s need for their fix. Sgt. Zona is right, only by destroying the bikes are we ever going to come close to curing this cancer. Chemo and radiation are not enough for this patient, time to operate.”
As a New Haven rider, I have a different opinion on this. I agree that dirt bike riding is somewhat of an addiction. That’s my hobby; I’ve been riding dirt bikes ever sense I was a little child, growing up seeing my uncle riding ATVs and dirt bikes with his friends. However you are making us sound like criminals and “bad people.” I can speak for a few of my dirt biking friends, we ride for the enjoyment and to take our mind off of things, not to aggravate citizens or to get chased by the cops. Also I think making a local bike park would be a good idea for ME but I cannot speak for others because I believe they would require gear which might turn away dirt bike riders. Ultimately this is a hard issue and I think it’s going to be a hard issue to come across.
posted by: robn on November 14, 2012 11:56am
Gotta give the kid credit for showing up and being honest, given that his behavior is universally despised in New Haven.
posted by: brain_stringcheese on November 14, 2012 11:57am
this kid is just amused by all of this, sad that city officials think this would accomplish anything. this kid think’s he’s so hard right now, this just feeds his ego. the city should find some grounds to confiscate their dirt bikes
posted by: PH on November 14, 2012 12:04pm
I have seen the police in the middle of these dirt bike packs. Why don’t they turn on their cameras and start filming the actions? When they can identify the troublemakers then they can arrest them for any number of traffic violations, reckless endangerment, interference with an officer, criminal mischief, breach of peace, etc. The perpetrators would likely accept plea bargains that include community service and the impounding or forfeiture of their vehicles instead of jail time. If I drove my car on the streets in any way like they drive their cycles, I would fully expect to be prosecuted.
Kudos to Justin and Mike for showing up and presenting their position. Having said that, I agree with the commentators that they and their ilk are a menace.
@cedarhillresident I will defer to the Corporation Counsel’s office, but I believe Sec. 52-557j of the statutes would protect the city unless it charged a fee for using its property or its actions were wilful and malicious. The statute specifically says the landowner does not have to give permission to the rider for this provision to apply.
@justin e and HhE it’s “flout” not “flaunt”
posted by: anonymous on November 14, 2012 12:26pm
Sadly, the Union controlled BOA and DTC doesn’t take this issue seriously, never has, and never will - not a peep from their suburban leadership, despite dozens of calls and emails. Even worse, hundreds of citizens had to fight tooth and nail even to get this on the agenda.
If only they had an understanding of what actually creates jobs in New Haven (hint: it isn’t a pet pipeline program for a few hundred union connected folks, who, as soon as they find jobs, will move in to the suburbs next door to their friends leading the union).
posted by: Pedro Soto on November 14, 2012 12:58pm
I commend Justin Elicker for taking this issue seriously, and all of the people who came out to the meeting.
This is easily one of the worst things about living in New Haven. The overall message that is sent when dirtbikers tear through the streets is
“This is OUR town, not your town. We get to enjoy it, you don’t.”
The don’t want to be a part of the rest of the community. They want the community to let them do whatever they damn well please.
The cops are 100% right- they DONT want a track of their own. They DONT want places where they can legally operate vehicles.
They WANT to ride through New Haven on unregistered illegal vehicles. They WANT to drive through red lights and tear through our parks They WANT to be able to not have to use the bus, or get a driver’s license and buy a car or a scooter or motorcycle.
This issue really cuts to the core of what it means to be a resident of this city. De we as city stand up and say NO MORE to this, or do we let kids live entitled lives, to make everyone else’s lives miserable while they enjoy themselves?
posted by: JuliS on November 14, 2012 1:32pm
it is immensely frustrating that these kids think they have the right to just have a good time however they please.
on nice days, they tear through the streets several times a day near college woods and wilbur cross, cutting people off, nearly hitting pedestrians, and running lights.
doing something that they consider fun should not encroach on the quality of life and safety of others. it is incredibly selfish to endanger others this brazenly.
the danger and thrill is absolutely part of why they do it, and i see no reason why new haven taxpayers should contribute whatsoever to a track for them to ride on, since they would just continue to endanger our lives on the streets regardless.
please, lets do everything in our power to address this problem. take their bikes away, and make it financially impossible to get them back, until they give up. send a clear message that it will not be tolerated anymore. it is definitely one of the worst issues new haveners face.
posted by: DEZ on November 14, 2012 2:08pm
Unfortunately I couldn’t be at the meeting last night. In the past 2 months, however, I have witnessed 4 times the refueling of quads and dirt bikes at the gas station on the corner of Main Street and Townsend Avenue. It appears that kids drive up to the pumps, instead of filling up via gas cans. Can gas station owners refuse a sale to dirt bike/quad riding kids?
posted by: Long Time NH Resident on November 14, 2012 2:08pm
If the police “suspect” that the bike “may” have been involved with transporting drugs can’t they take it apart for a search? I suspect that every bike will fall into this “search” Here ya go u put it back together. Hope all the pieces are there!
posted by: robn on November 14, 2012 2:12pm
Its pretty simple actually. The legislature can recognize the problem and tailor a law specifically for New Haven allowing the confiscation and destruction of two wheeled motorized vehicles that are operated illegally and in a dangerous manner. Its the death penalty for the rotten kids’ toys.
If there’s an earnest interest in motocross as a sport, we’ll then see the good kids getting together to solve the problem of where to ride (i.e. trying to create a motocross park of their own or establishing a transportation system to get enthusiasts to Milford.)
posted by: WestvilleAdvocate on November 14, 2012 2:54pm
This is a quality of life issue. The state needs to change the law now (Pat Dillon et al… I hope you are reading this or someone passes this article on to you) that ALL motorized vehicles need to be registered.
The City of New Haven needs to start doing its job.
It is unfair for those of us working so hard to make this city better who pay our hard earned dollars to city hall in the form of an outrageous mill rate, to not be able to get protection from these idiots on the bikes.
Personally, our household has had enough. We no longer walk in the park because of this, we no longer play in the park because of this and, sadly, we no longer even call the police because of this.
We are trying to figure out how to sell our home and leave New Haven. When you live in a city that cannot even address such a simple issue it makes us wonder why we even pay to live here. We are leaving for another town.
posted by: Ali on November 14, 2012 3:00pm
KoskoNHR: ‘However you are making us sound like criminals and “bad people.”’
Well, you ARE a criminal if you are riding dirtbikes illegally in the streets and violating the law. If you don’t want to aggravate citizens or be chased by the cops, then look for legal options for riding. Pretty simple. Whether or not you and your fellow riders are “bad people” depends on a lot of other things.
Given the attitude of some of the riders, I think I might take up mugging as a hobby. Apparently it would be OK as long as I like it.
posted by: FromTheHill on November 14, 2012 3:19pm
I was a little shocked when I first saw 10-50 kids driving crazy and popping wheelie’s but they are quite talented. I enjoy the show
posted by: HhE on November 14, 2012 3:39pm
I have a group of friends who enjoy recreational shooting. They do not do this in the streets of New Haven.
Rather, they use a private range in eastern Connecticut. There is no shooting early in the morning, nor after dinner. Before lunch and on Sundays, they only use rim fire cartridges.
Why? No matter how much they enjoy their recreation, they consider the rights and privileges of their neighbors.
posted by: anonymous on November 14, 2012 3:41pm
WestvilleAdvo is right - I almost always refuse to visit many other neighborhoods in New Haven now, after having been almost run into or run over by dirt bikes or ATVs there on several occasions. As FairHavener points out, the noise makes walks on summer evenings unpleasant, too, not to mention being hazardous to child development. Until this ends, I’m not venturing out beyond the areas that the dirt bikers see as “off limits,” particularly in the afternoon and evening. Has anyone spoken with Pat Dillon, Toni Walker, and Holder Winfield to get their input?
posted by: JohnTulin on November 14, 2012 3:43pm
Everyone, other than the kids riding the bikes, wants them off the streets - its agreed. However, these young people should be commended for showing up and being involved in the democratic process. Hopefully, bike-issue aside, they see how a community addresses its issues and that they grow into more civic minded people as a result. Let’s hope they are not turned off, let’s hope their effort is embraced and that they are no longer a part of the problem but a part of the solution!
posted by: robn on November 14, 2012 3:46pm
Here’s a crazy idea. Rather than redirecting bad behavior energy into something unknown (something that would happen if dirt bikes were banned outright), why not give the misbehaving kids a place to be and organize their activities into something productive that they can feel proud of? Theres 50 acres sitting on the edge of New Haven that normal civilians aren’t particularly interested in visiting…its called the landfill and its a half mile from the nearest house that side of the highway.
KoskoNHR I really like playing the drums. I mean, I LOVE IT, and the louder the better. What is your address? It isn’t easy for me to practice in a studio, or during the day, I get a real rush from practicing at 2 am. Maybe I can practice in your house, from 2 am to 5 am, every day?
I’m not TRYING to cause any problems, I just want to do this. Don’t be old fashioned. Let me play the drums in your living room.
posted by: Wildwest on November 14, 2012 8:21pm
Since when is it a good idea to BUY criminals gifts? Since when is it a good idea to turn a blind eye on reckless driving?
Make 1000 new laws, until the police catch them it does no good.
30 of them doing what they do in front of Mayor Johns house would be a great Youtube video!
posted by: bikelife203 on November 14, 2012 11:29pm
would you rather hear gun shots or hear bike engines. its bigger than bikes. this is an east coast movement. allowing kids to network and build friendships.. bringing together neighborhoods that are having “beef” put that to the side and enjoy a friendly activity. take a space and designated for these riders. cops harass whether they ride in fields or on streets. no one will ever be satisfied someone is always going to complain. there is a million bigger problems going on, these police cant catch who just committed the most recent homicide, but he can hit off a dirt bike rider on a Sunday afternoon. if the feds didn’t come into town and sweep up all these young minorities for drugs violence still be at the same rate as last year. new haven police caught a break.
posted by: bikelife203 on November 14, 2012 11:41pm
dirt bike engines til the snow falls, or gun shots all year round. come on people its bigger issues.
posted by: HhE on November 15, 2012 12:18am
Building a dirt bike park would be a waste. A review of their YouTube videos (including wheels on quad on I-91 in the middle lane, running red lights en-mass, and all that) shows that they ride not in-spite of the law, but to spite the law.
posted by: WestvilleAdvocate on November 15, 2012 8:18am
“posted by: bikelife203 on November 14, 2012 10:41pm
dirt bike engines til the snow falls, or gun shots all year round. come on people its bigger issues.”
We have become a sad society and taken huge leaps backwards if you feel the only two activities we can teach our kids are to shoot a gun or ride unregistered vehicles (both of which are illegal in the realm you describe).
Forget the nuisance it causes, forget the fun the pro-bikers who ride in the streets claim to have, no one can argue the venue with which the bikes ride (in the manner they ride) is against the law. Period, end of story. So the real story isn’t why people are doing it or where to find a place for them to do it, it is why parent’s become parents if they don’t want to parent their children? It is why this state hands out cash to incompetent parents like its candy in our social welfare system when there are competent parents in need and who’ve hit hard times? It is why people like this commenter, “bikelife203”, feel like his/her options in life are to kill people (either by reckless use of our roads with your street-illegal bikes or illegal use of guns)?
Until parents start parenting and government starts upholding the law this country is down the drain.
This entire story is a sad commentary on our city leaders, our police force and its unions, the city’s children, and our leaders at the State level who are complacent and do not listen to the needs of their constituents.
Why our Aldermen and city leaders are even entertaining an audience on this topic is beyond my comprehension. I would love to lead this city but I would never be elected. I’m too much of a realist and would never be able to put up with all the charades and smoke and mirrors and bureaucracy.
Riding a two wheel, motorized vehicle on the road less than 250CC without head and tail lights and turn signals under a certain age is illegal in the State of CT.
Riding a two wheel vehicle over 250CC that is street legal without a license plate is illegal.
Riding a motorcycle without a motorcycle endorsement on your driver’s license is illegal.
Having a police force that doesn’t serve its tax payers! Well? Shame on you Mayor!
posted by: Teacher in New Haven on November 15, 2012 9:24am
It is a crazy world where a kid thinks he can only choose between recklessly endangering his neighbors, destroying a community’s quality of life, while risking their own… life or shooting people.
Is it any wonder that residents of other towns look down on New Haven?
posted by: bikelife203 on November 15, 2012 9:51am
I’m not saying it’s a choice only between those two things what I’m saying is since it’s been an interest to ride gun violence has dcreased. these riders are 18+ parents are no longer responsible for kids actions, a handful are 17 . yes they have ride on highway but that isn’t an everyday thing. Build the riders a place to ride and problem solved…. Bikes aren’t the problem it’s people like you all willing to speak up on bikes and not larger issues , like continuing to vote for the mayor.
bikelife203 I think you don’t actually know who you are speaking with.
The people on this issue have: 1. Worked to elect a different mayor 2. Run for Mayor themselves
Why don’t you come out and work for a different mayor if you want to do something productive with your time that will involve you in New Haven in a healthy, positive way?
posted by: Teacher in New Haven on November 15, 2012 10:18am
A few years ago, I would have said “Build them better schools” but we did that. Then I would have said “Give them money for College” but we did that. Then I might have said “Community Policing” but we did that too.
Now I say,
They are Criminals.
Lock them up and take their bikes…
posted by: Wildwest on November 15, 2012 10:27am
why dont you kids raise some money and buy some land? the Milford riders did it, why not you and your boys?
posted by: LMC on November 15, 2012 10:32am
So a young person who - at the request of a police officer - takes the time to show up a public hearing and engage in our the democratic process is a “menace”? Really Paul? If we want young people to become active, thoughtful, contributing members of our community then we must show our respect when they show up - even if we disagree with their actions or what they have to say.
And, word to wise for Justin Elicker - if you plan to run for mayor, I suggest you stop admonishing the “arrogance” of community members who take the time to engage in a public hearing that you are running.
posted by: HhE on November 15, 2012 11:27am
LMC, that they came to a meeting is not why they are seen as a menace. That they ride illegal bikes in a very dangerous manor through our streets is why they are a menace.
Kudos to Justin for saying what needed to be said.
posted by: Fairhavener on November 15, 2012 11:45am
@LMC: where you there that night? If your answer is no, then you do not know the full story. So perhaps you should also stop admonishing Mr. Elicker, who by the way did and excellent job of moderating the hearing. I know since I was there for the entire 3 hours.
The youth did show up, great. They did also, say, to all of our faces, that no matter what the City did, they would just continue breaking the laws because, in the words of one of these courageous kids, that showed up to one town hall meeting: “breaking the laws a lot is what I do.”
posted by: bikelife203 on November 15, 2012 12:00pm
you individuals can go back and forth fussing and fighting but will get no where - Justin said he will continue to break the law , unless he had a place to ride- so if ya really cared that much about this issue and want it solved take one of the hundred soccer fields or basketball courts and give it to the riders have hours of operation and let us enjoy ourselves. it is over thousands of unregistered cars on the road operated by under age kids and grown adults with no license who have no insurance who can cause the same injury to you and your kids. Why aren’t you having meetings about that? half ya kids probably are fans of my skills they enjoy hearing the bikes come down the street and watch us. you say we’re criminals of course we laugh and take this as a joke. we need a place to ridegive us one and make sure there’s seats for your kids!!
posted by: robn on November 15, 2012 12:02pm
This young guy was grinning when questioned because the answer was obvious; he breaks the law because there’s no consequence. Lax enforcement always leads to greater transgression thus the bikes on sidewalks and who knows what else?
posted by: bikelife203 on November 15, 2012 12:03pm
Teach in new haven , I think your clearly upset you are under paid and probably not respected by your students. you looking for attention ? haha try the principal office
posted by: JuliS on November 15, 2012 12:13pm
I say again, since it seems to bear repeating:
if we build a park for these kids to ride on, HOW WOULD THEY GET THERE?
convince someone with a pick-up truck to haul it every time they want to ride? take a city bus with it in tow? rent a uhaul? push it in neutral? teleport it?
THEY WOULD RIDE IT ON THE STREETS. problem not solved.
you don’t reward bad behavior unless you want more of it.
posted by: Long Time NH Resident on November 15, 2012 12:14pm
ENCOURAGE ALL BIKERS TO RIDE ON THE MAYOR’S STREET. BETTER YET, BUY ONE AND RIDE IT YOURSELF. IF YOU CAN’T BEAT THEM JOIN THEM.
BTW If these kids start getting hit by law abiding citizens, by accident of course, what if any consequences could there possibly be ?
Lawlessness leads to society’s fall.
posted by: FrontStreet on November 15, 2012 12:20pm
Your words inspire us to work even harder to make sure law enforcement has effective and strong tools to stop illegal traffic in New Haven.
Thank you. Your friend Justin’s appearance was also coup - the drama and tension his presence and words lent to the otherwise uneventful meeting helped to bring more attention to and support for our cause.
posted by: Fairhavener on November 15, 2012 12:40pm
You are doing exactly what people are expecting your misbehaving ilk (look it up) to do, which is cry and whine that you want something but do nothing for yourself to make that happen—legally.
You want a field to ride your bike on? Then do something about it! In the meantime stop doing it “on the low.” If I say to your face that you’re an alright kid, and then “on the low” say you are not, isn’t that being two faced?
You guys say you want a legal place to ride, but you are not going about it the right way. Organize, stop riding illegally and make things happen. Learn this lesson in life early and you’ll get far.
Lastly, read this: New Haven, not the police, but New Haven the COMMUNITY, is done with you guys doing this “on the low” and on the “illegal tip.” Summer 2013 will not be Summer 2012, you can bet your bike on that.
PS: also stop making fun of others, it’s called bullying. Again, you are representing yourself poorly and will get nowhere with that. If I made fun of you, would you then want to turn around and do something nice for me? Think about it: you are making fun of the same people you are asking to gift you a place to ride on.
No one will take you guys seriously if you continue on like this.
posted by: bikelife203 on November 15, 2012 12:53pm
you people are so focused on negatives your not looking at the positives in this movement. why listen to or care what someone has to say who has no interest in seeing my point of view. isn’t that democracy? for the people by the people. well my people and I feel a different way then you all and we will speak out by RIDING TIL THE WHEELS FALL OFF. not once are you all able to touch on any other argument i have brought into this conversation. how can you speak on what would happen if we had a place to ride, if there is no place to ride? now i see why none of you have become mayor or past an alderman.
posted by: bikelife203 on November 15, 2012 12:56pm
“You may congregate _here_ but not _there_” rather than prohibiting it. Municipalities do provide recreational facilities, and when that’s done intelligently the facilities are for what is popular. I’ve seen plenty of successful transformations of unused tennis courts or playgrounds into skate/BMX parks.
You can try your block patrols and throw lots of policing resources at it, but it’s a lot cheaper, easier, and building of respect for the law to provide someplace else the teens ought to be.
posted by: westville man on November 15, 2012 12:58pm
The reality in life is that we all will have to listen to someone, bikelife. If not our parents, elders, teachers, lawyers or judges, it will be the correctional guard. That may be where many of these riders are heading. But they WILL have to listen to someone.
posted by: bikelife203 on November 15, 2012 1:45pm
@Fairhavener can you please tell me what is being done ” on the low “?? im quite sure you see me on my bike, you hear the noise, you see the pictures, and watch the videos. so again might i ask what is being done on the low? im sure your answer will be nothing. so whatever your reason for that argument was, is no longer valid.
now you saying new haven as a community is done with us, that is a lie. i know and have many supporters who enjoy watching what i do, their kids enjoy watching me. so speak only for yourself.
you can get a written piece of paper saying whatever you would like, your threat of 2013 holds no weight. there are clearly laws in effect now, that hold no weight. what is some rewording truly going to do?
look at this day in age? weed is clearly illegal, but now is being fought to legalize. dirt bikes have been rode in new haven since the 80s, it is currently a popular hobby, it is currently drawing kids away from guns and drugs, but no lets take the bikes away? no lets keep this going. lets get this movement spread. lets give the riders a place to ride and lets ride!
posted by: robn on November 15, 2012 3:05pm
To answer some of your questions about transportation, I’ll repeat myself. If a kid (parent?) can budget $1500-3000 for a motocross bike, they can budget another $250 for a carrier like this…
In any event the first step is to change the law and allow the seizure/destruction of illegally operated motorbikes.
posted by: FrontStreet on November 15, 2012 3:12pm
great Bikelife203, you’ve found a cause for yourself: scaring children (Clinton Field and sidewalks throughout the city), terrorizing senior citiznes (Mary Wade Center), and leading alot of decent people to wonder if it’s really worth living in a city where the youth have so much disrespect for the space and peace of others.
Don’t forget, Sgt Anastasio offered to arrange for you guys to have free transport and access to the Milford track. And you refused.
posted by: Fairhavener on November 15, 2012 5:40pm
Thanks for standing up for me HhE and Fairhavener, but I agree with LMC, I was too harsh on the kids. I believe what I said, but it was not the proper venue to say it.
Now to business - please sign the petition that Fairhavener just posted above and, come spring, head up to the capitol with us to make sure we permanently take these bikes away from the folks who are riding illegally and dangerously through our neighborhoods.
posted by: HewNaven on November 15, 2012 7:25pm
I think everyone is missing the big picture here:
There are thousands of traffic violations committed each day, and none of them are prosecuted. The City of New Haven cannot deal with the volume of traffic violations committed, no matter who commits them. Sure, we’ve all seen dirt bikes in New Haven - terrorizing or entertaining, depending on who you ask - but I can’t even tell you how many times I’ve been threatened by ordinary cars and trucks, due to their reckless driving or failure to yield the right of way. The dirt bike problem is part of a larger pattern of reckless driving and lack of enforcement in this city.
If you round up all the dirt bikes in this city and burn them, I will still feel terrorized on the streets by all the ordinary cars and trucks who speed and drive recklessly. And, this coming from an able-bodied young man - Imagine what it must be like for a child or an elderly person to traverse this city!
posted by: cp06 on November 15, 2012 7:46pm
to everyone, but especially “justin” and “bikelife203 “
part of the thrill these kids experience is not just the biking itself, but the bravado of doing it illegally, in the street, in everyone’s face. they are probably too cool to acknowledge that (makes it less edgy and less of an “i don’t give a f*ck) attitude) but its absolutely true. because of this, I think that while having a space set aside where they can legally do this may help, but will not solve the problem. a set aside space lacks the audience (of non riders), shock value, edginess and rebellious that is so much a part of this experience for them. any remember this feeling when a teenager?
I don’t have a solution, but I think to create an effective solution this must be kept in mind.
First of all, I think Justin & Mike deserve credit for coming to the meeting & speaking. I was at this hearing &, while I don’t know what occurred in the conversation outside the room, I thought Justin was respectful as he spoke to the committee. The part I find disturbing in his testimony, is that he said he rides because he loves it & doesn’t do it out of spite to annoy people; however, it didn’t seem to bother him that what he & others do is, in fact, very disturbing to other people, regardless of his motivation. This attitude is in keeping with the increasing lack of consideration & narcissism that, unfortunately, has been growing in our world. I think Officer Anastasio made an excellent point by saying “there’s a high for these kids, etc.” I’ve witnessed kids on dirt bikes hiding until the Police cruiser went by & then going the opposite direction & laughing about it. We’re asking the Police to do an impossible job. I may be more feasible to go after the parents or guardians.
posted by: westville man on November 16, 2012 11:23am
We are asking police to do what they are paid to do. Maybe if more of them had families living in New haven these types of crimes would be more of a priority to them- then it would be their community as well.
posted by: HewNaven on November 16, 2012 1:12pm
It’s not the fault of the cops, the parents, schools, the mayor, etc. This dirt bike phenomenon is a product of our motorized culture generally obsessed with cars. It’s bigger than the dirt bikes. There are cars and trucks all over the city acting stupidly, driving through otherwise peaceful streets speeding, playing loud systems, without mufflers, illegal exhaust, etc. and literally running people over:
The illegal street bikes are part of our community culture, which goes much deeper than legislation and fines, or even destruction. People love their motorized toys, and they can’t imagine having to move their lazy butts around the city without them. And, the way most of our streets are designed plus the lack of enforcement, and lack of alternatives means that most people will continue this behavior, unfortunately.
posted by: S Brown on November 16, 2012 2:10pm
I think you can save your breath and cut the nonsense at this point. You know as well as the rest of us do that if the people of New Haven were to generously provide for you—at no cost to you and your friends—a place to ride that’s off the streets and out of everyone else’s face, NONE OF YOU WOULD USE IT. You’re on the streets because you want to be.
And you don’t get to defend this activity just because it’s a “movement” and is “building community.” You are destroying communities, not building them. You are hurting people. You are making New Haven a much less nice place to live for a lot of people. A lot more people than the small number of you that enjoy riding.
You get ZERO sympathy for being part of a “community” that chooses a hobby that hurts a lot of people that want nothing to do with it. I look forward to the day when I see pictures in this newspaper of your bike crushed into a pile of twisted metal in the local scrapyard.
posted by: robn on November 16, 2012 3:32pm
I disagree that kids wouldn’t use a motocross park. If there was a seize-and-destroy law for illegally operated motorbikes and we had a park, they would find a way to get their bikes there and they would use it. Sure there would be some fools who would still tempt fate, but i’ll bet that a lot of them would use the park. I think that Justin’s smart@$$ attitude is being interpreted incorrectly. If this were illegal, all teenagers would go to jail. I think the attitude is less about transgression and more about showing off. You can do that on a track, and a lot more ona a well designed track. (hint, the NH landfill has a lot of cool grade change that would make an awesome course.)
posted by: RCguy on November 17, 2012 2:33am
bikelife203 is schooling all the NHI regulars and even the BoA itself.
posted by: RCguy on November 17, 2012 2:38am
Just an idea:
There are endless vacant lots on Campbell Ave in West Haven.
We should invest in a badass track.
Cross town partnership just like that Science School.
Downtown West Haven is lame. Motorsports would be awesome and it would bring people together.
posted by: RCguy on November 17, 2012 2:41am
I am sure there is some adrenaline rush from running from the cops… let’s face it. Hell that sounds fun.
But maybe these bikes can be street legal temporarily, like a temp plate, provided the driver goes the speed limit, obeys stop signs and lights, and wears a helmet. As long as he is on his way to or from the West Haven track.
posted by: Wildwest on November 17, 2012 8:41am
Robn-“I disagree that kids wouldn’t use a motocross park. If there was a seize-and-destroy law for illegally operated motorbikes and we had a park, they would find a way to get their bikes there and they would use it. Sure there would be some fools who would still tempt fate, but i’ll bet that a lot of them would use the park. I think that Justin’s smart@$$ attitude is being interpreted incorrectly. If this were illegal, all teenagers would go to jail. I think the attitude is less about transgression and more about showing off. You can do that on a track, and a lot more ona a well designed track. (hint, the NH landfill has a lot of cool grade change that would make an awesome course.)”
Sure, suburban kids would come use it. They would be driven there in their parents truck that they worked hard to get.
I dont think you get it, none of these riders have cars or trucks or licenses to even drive. My guess is most of their parents dont either. If you(and 50 others) were to step up and offer your own personal time to drive them to a track on a regular basis I may consider the idea.
Lets just have a little reality check here. The state is broke. The city is broke. Nobody is building these children a track. Nobody is stopping them from raising money to buy a track.
posted by: safestreetsnewhaven on November 17, 2012 11:50am
At the hearing Zona spoke of a group of his force and a small group of progressive thinking residents offered alternatives where they can legally ride (Milford has a track), and were offered assistance in getting there, and some neighbors even offered to help pay for it, they laughed it off, refused to not ride illegally and within days were out terrorizing neighborhoods (this time wearing masks to avoid being recognized) with the maniacal roar of their bikes day in and out, regardless of the hour, it often starts at 3PM and ends at 3AM.
Petition is nearing 200 New Haven Residents folks!
posted by: bikelife203 on November 17, 2012 1:27pm
its clear to say you all are just a bunch of miserable people who problems go way deeper than ” dirt bikes riding in the street”... like seriously you all sound ignorant and foolish.
“bikelife” is a growing culture. is spreading and growing, its not going away. its something you all are going to see more and more.
we have no cars or transportation yet we ride thousand dollar bikes? how can you bring our parents into this yet have no idea the back grounds of us riders? - but we are the arrogant, disrespectful people in this situation.
we ride in the street and parks because no matter were we ride we are terrorized by new haven police. who claim they do not chase us, but numerous of you commenting have claimed to see us being chased.
you claim we wont use the area to ride, but WE HAVE NO AREA TO RIDE, HOW CAN YOU ASSUME !!! we don’t a trail built, we just need free open land! we do not even need parks and rec to keep it maintained. us the riders can handle that !
its plenty of free open land in new haven that can be given to us. its no reason we should need to travel miles away, when its available in our home town. basketball players and football players didn’t earn a cent of money to have their courts and fields, why should we? basketball and football players aren’t transported to milford to play when there is available areas here.
you want to put in the law to destroy our bikes, do it- but you must give us available land to do what we enjoy, and if we don’t abide by the law with available land, they TAKE OUR BIKES AND DESTROY THEM… but its unfair for us to have no place to ride, and your just destroying our property.
if we are given the chance to have land and use it properly and respectfully we will respect the streets.
@RCGuy How is being immature and cocky “schooling” anyone? He is behaving recklessly. If you watch a debate and call it for the guy incoherently screaming, sure, by your measure he is “schooling” others.
@MikeM That isn’t actually true, Mike.
On Sunday, go by East Shore park, by way of the long road for the industrial zone, and tell me what you see. 15 cars/trucks that just unloaded ATVs and dirt bikes, whole families. This isn’t just a bunch of jerk teens—it is entire families, including young children.
I really think the city should drive by, grab the plate numbers, and impound the cars, assess tickets for all manner of infractions (reckless driving, endangerment, etc) and really go to town on this.
posted by: Wildwest on November 17, 2012 6:55pm
Thats even more laughable Streever, the suburban kids ARE being driven in to town already because the streets of New Haven are gaining a reputation around the state! Actually I have seen this going on in the spring by Bella Vista apts as well. I told the top cop, nothing was done.
Everyone suggests going to Milford to ride, well it ain’t that easy to join that club. Besides getting accepted as a member you also have to know how to ride(not just wheelies), pay money and have a quiet bike, all traits the average New Haven wheelie rider do not have.
posted by: RCguy on November 18, 2012 12:38am
Streever: The debate between Justin Elicker and Justin the Biker showed more ranting and a lack of temper control on the part of the elected official.
bikelife is schooling you guys because he’s pointing things out that you have never considered, because your “inner police officer” won’t give this articulate and even-tempered kid a chance to be heard.
*there is over thousands of unregistered cars on the road operated by under age kids and grown adults with no license who have no insurance who can cause the same injury to you and your kids.Why aren’t you having meetings about that?*
*this is an east coast movement. allowing kids to network and build friendships.. bringing together neighborhoods that are having “beef” put that to the side and enjoy a friendly activity.*
*there is a million bigger problems going on, these police cant catch who just committed the most recent homicide, but he can hit off a dirt bike rider on a Sunday afternoon. if the feds didn’t come into town and sweep up all these young minorities for drugs violence still be at the same rate as last year. new haven police caught a break.*
Growing up, my friends and I took over the street to play hockey and basketball. Lucky we lived through it.
posted by: HhE on November 18, 2012 12:18pm
One of the wonderful things about democracy and freedom of speech is that everyone can be heard, and then we can figure out who the jerks are.
In bikelife203’s comments is the strongest argument for taking drastic and decisive action against bikes. When it is time to go to Hartford, let us remember to bring bikelife203’s posts, as well as the YouTube videos.
posted by: D9DM on November 18, 2012 1:13pm
To MikeM - I encourage you to sign a waiver for a Ride a Long with the New Haven Police Dept. before you say things like “I told the Top Cop and nothing was done”. Did you listen to Justin when he called me by my first name!thats not by accident, most of them do know me because I have towed their bikes, I have issued infractions and I have put some of them in Jail. I have let my guard down in order to educate some of them about the dangers of their hobby and I have turned my back to them because the laws are not strong enough for us to make a statement, I have offered solutions for them. We dont pursue them because it causes more of a dangerous environment for them and others. Sometimes its easier to let them ride. But dont misunderstand me, we should not be trying to sympathize with them and finding them a place to ride legally, they are just lying to your face like they have done to so many. So we are on the right track in trying to have stronger laws to seize and destroy or have higher storage fees. And to let others know this, I do live in New Haven and I do care, which is why I was at the hearing,both as a public servant and a citizen. Over 100 bikes and Quads were seized and towed over the past year in New Haven , Sgt.Zona, myself and the officers that work with us are responsible for about 60 of them , only to have 90% of them back out on the street. So, until the laws get stiffer dont expect me or the officers to get in a chase with them , the liabilities are to high.
Sgt. Vin Anastasio NHPD
posted by: NHlifer on November 18, 2012 4:15pm
I have been told by the police repeatedly that they know who these kids are but I continue to see the same kids on the same bikes. It’s obvious to me that the police need stronger laws and penalties to combat this problem. I personally would care less about these Nats if it wasn’t for the nagging sound of a 2 stroke engines wheelying down my street. Buy them mufflers and most of us would not care at all. If you took these bikes off the streets these morons would find some other way to kill themselves.
posted by: Claudia Herrera on November 21, 2012 5:23pm
I know me comment comes little bit late but, my family where asking me about the city were I live, so I find a very cool video about New Have, CT BUT I also I found This video. Please take a look since seems the we are kind LATE trying to asking for better quality of life. These kids are doing a lot more better job to send the message about what they can do in our area. This video is really crazy!!