Village officials have moved to curb reckless biking around Port Jeff by impounding bikes of people they find breaking the code.
At the Nov. 4 board meeting, Port Jefferson officials amended the village code to allow Suffolk County police and code enforcement officers to impound bicycles from reckless riders, including juveniles.
“As an era of common sense is not really operating anymore regarding bicycles, we have heard and seen kids running in front of cars, playing games where they’re hooking onto cars — incredibly dangerous activities out there,” village attorney Brian Egan said. “Vehicles are taking incredibly dangerous maneuvers to avoid these bikes.”
The code’s language forbids persons from trick riding, which usually comes in the form of wheelies, weaving back and forth in traffic or hanging onto automobiles driving on the road. It also forbids people from riding distracted, such as while using a phone or camera, though using a GoPro camera or similar devices while biking is permissible, according to the village attorney.
Acting Chief of Code Enforcement Fred Leute Jr. could not be reached for comment.
Egan said at the Nov. 4 meeting that the law was being “narrowly tailored” to still allow bike riding in the village.
Bikes seized by either code enforcement or Suffolk police are kept in Port Jeff at the Department of Public Works building, with a record of impounding kept by the head of Code Enforcement. A parent or guardian can retrieve the impounded bike on behalf of a minor.
Some residents at the meeting questioned if there were any issues with taking and impounding a minor’s bike, but Egan said it has worked for villages like Babylon.
“In practice, we see from other villages that these bikes never get retrieved,” he said.
Mayor Margot Garant said after they reach a certain number of bikes that are not recovered after a time, they would hold an auction like they have done for kayaks left on village racks after the season is complete. She said the village would likely decrease the price of impounded bikes based on age.
“We have to review the impounding fee, because I think with the kayaks, we didn’t take into consideration an aging timeline, it was one set fee and here we were with all these kayaks,” she said.
In August of this year, the Village of Babylon passed a similar measure to curb the number of reckless bicyclists. That village fined riders over 16 years of age $250 when charged with violating the village code.
The village has yet to set any fines from breaking this new section of the code or for retrieving the bike. Village officials said that decision would come at a future date after discussion, likely the next board meeting Nov. 18.