Bridgeport cracking down on ATVs, dirt bikes again

Photo of Peter Yankowski

BRIDGEPORT — Police are once again cracking down on riders of dirt bikes and ATVs on public roads, a perennial complaint in cities around the nation.

In a press release Friday, Mayor Joe Ganim announced the city police department has restarted its task force to begin “seizures of ATVs, dirt bikes and unregistered motor bikes.”

The move comes in response to what the mayor’s office called a rising number of incidents “with large packs of riders illegally operating ATVs on city streets,” putting people at risk.

“I’ve spoken with leadership and law officials from municipalities in Connecticut and across the country, this continues to be a growing concern in urban centers nationwide. Dirt-bikes and quads on city streets are a public safety hazard to pedestrians and drivers,” Ganim said in a statement. “We’ve heard accounts of ATVs disobeying traffic signals, stop signs, and even boxing in vehicles — It’s just reckless and we can’t allow it to continue and endanger members of our community.”

Bridgeport is by far not the first city to see complaints centered around bikes and quads ridden illegally ridden on public roads.

Last year, the New Haven Board of Alders passed an ordinance that could see riders fined up to $2,000 after multiple offenses. The ordinance also adds fines for service station owners who sell gas to dirt bike and ATV riders, with fines running station owners $100 for each rider who fills up.

Bridgeport passed similar fines for riders in 2015.

Riders gained notoriety with the 2013 documentary “12 O’Clock Boyz,” which centered on riders in Baltimore. The issue also entered the public spotlight that year after a group of bikers boxed in an SUV in New York, during which a rider smashed in the vehicle’s windshield with a helmet, CNN reported.

The Bridgeport police task force on dirt bikes and ATVs started last year in response to complaints from residents and “the illegal actions and possibility for public harm,” the mayor’s office said.

Bridgeport police have established a designated hotline to report illegal ATV riders on streets. The number is 203-581-5171.