Multiple Connecticut Cities Attempt to Curb Illegal ATV and Dirt Bike Riders
Mrs. Large and I were recently driving through downtown New Haven along Whalley Avenue by the intersection with Ella T. Grasso Boulevard. Around 100 young men on ATVs, Quads, and Dirt Bike motorcycles were all on one side of the street, revving their engines and yelling out to all of the pedestrians that had stopped to see what was making the thunderous roar. It was quite a sight.
As our light turned green, a few of the men in the pack started to drive across Whalley Westwards towards Hamden. We hit our brakes to avoid hitting a quad who had stopped in the middle of the intersection to let another bike go. Then, all of the other 100 or so took off through red lights and followed the leaders against traffic.
This situation is happening all across Connecticut, especially in our major cities. Hundreds of ATV/Quad/Dirt Bike riders recklessly driving their unregistered/unlicensed bikes along city streets. WFSB in Hartford recently posted a video of a recent situation just like I went through in New Haven. NBC Connecticut also posted a story recently about a similar incident that occurred in West Hartford.
Being that close to a group of these riders can be intimidating. Some of the young men were yelling out at female pedestrians as they rode by, catcalling and trying to get attention. Other riders just revved their engines into redline territory, waiting for someone to inch over a bit so they could get towards the front of the pack.
I was a licensed motorcycle operator at 14. I grew up in Oklahoma in the late 70's and early 80's, and I used to love riding my little 70cc Honda Passport on residential streets. Dirt Bikes, ATV's, and Quad Motorcycles are not made for doing 60MPH on Willow Street. I have nothing against responsible riders who enjoy riding their bikes in designated areas.
Connecticut Police Departments have their priorities straight, and the manpower required to take down a crowd of 100-200 people on fast vehicles isn't cheap or easy. I saw a social media post this morning that the New Haven Police Department put up as a warning to potential attendees of a motorcycle rider event called Fastcoastin' End of Season Session. New Haven PD states in the post that the event has been cancelled, violators will be arrested, and their towing policy will be strictly enforced.
Most of the comments on the post have been in defense of responsible motorcycle operators. Many point to the problem that I've encountered, unlicensed operators recklessly riding unlicensed vehicles on city streets.
Connecticut's motorcycle laws and regulations prohibit 16 and 17-year-olds from operating a motorcycle between 11 PM and 5 AM, and they must wear protective headgear while operating a licensed, tagged vehicle solo with no passengers. Drive through Hartford, Waterbury, Danbury, or New Haven on a warm Saturday and see how many violations that you can spot yourself.
What can be done about this? New Haven PD put out their warning on Facebook and I've seen numerous illegal ATV riders on the side of the road, pulled over by an officer who happened to be nearby. I don't want to be a killjoy, but I also don't want a 400cc Quad smashing into my vehicle while I'm trying to get to work.