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Leg. Rudy Sunderman

Photo from Suffolk County Police Department

When did people become so careless? 

Being taught how to cross the street has apparently gone out the window. Young adults and even children are riding their bikes into oncoming traffic.

We’re sick of it. 

Long Island has some of the most aggressive drivers in the country — why do we have to worry about high schoolers popping a wheelie in front of our cars on a major county road? 

And they don’t care. They laugh it off, make faces or — worse — curse at us like it was our fault they chose to almost kill themselves. 

The worst part is, though, someone is bound to eventually get hurt — something we truly do not want to see. 

But we are grateful to the Suffolk County legislators who are trying their hardest to crack down on people taking advantage of our streets. Whether it’s a child or an adult riding their bike down the hill in a pack, bicyclists have become difficult to deal with.

And that’s sad, because we don’t want to banish or punish them for something so healthy, but there needs to be more communication.

While county Legislator Rudy Sunderman’s (R-Mastic) recent reckless bicycling bill is rather harsh by telling riders that they could face jail time for inappropriate biking, if everyone just listened to their mothers, grandmothers, fathers and teachers to not go near a fast-moving car, then this wouldn’t have been a problem.

And more adults can speak up. In the summer of 2019, officers with the Suffolk County Police Department’s 4th Precinct spoke with TBR News Media about their program to educate reckless bicycle riders. The officers compiled a video with clips of teens creating havoc on Smithtown. The purpose was to use the video to educate parents after officers stop a youth for reckless bicycling.

Even without watching such a video, adults know riding in the middle of a busy street is not safe. Before someone faces jail time, educate your children, speak up to the young people who harass you with their bikes.

Of course, the driver of a 3-ton vehicle will be blamed if someone gets hurt, but that shouldn’t be the case. Bike riders should not be taking advantage of our streets and should not be risking their lives by showing off unnecessary tricks.

We all know what wheelies look like. They’re not original, and we don’t care. 

Be safe. 

Teenagers across the North Shore have been seen playing chicken with motorists by cycling into oncoming traffic, popping wheelies in the middle of the road and more. Photo from SCPD

Suffolk County lawmakers are looking to tackle bicyclists who have been intimidating drivers across Long Island. 

There have been several different reports of reckless bicyclists putting themselves and others in danger on the road, which included a group of teenagers who harassed a Terryville gym over the summer. 

County Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) said she had a “terrifying” experience first-hand a few years ago. While traveling down Route 25A at night, a person wearing all black began popping wheelies toward her car in the middle of the street.

“I wasn’t going fast,” she said. “I chose to stop in the middle of the roadway. It was really scary, and whoever it was, was recklessly trying to frighten me.”

Back in September, county Legislator Rudy Sunderman (R-Mastic) introduced a “reckless biking” bill, which he advanced from Legislator Tom Muratore (R-Ronkonkoma) who passed away from cancer that same month.

After talking with other towns and villages in both Nassau and Suffolk counties, Sunderman said that although he represents the South Shore, the issue is widespread across the Island. 

“Other areas that we spoke to [with a bill in place] have already seen a decline in reckless biking,” he said. 

If Sunderman’s bill passes, it would prohibit cyclists from trick riding or weaving through traffic. Violators could also see their bikes impounded, receive $250 fines, or spend 15 days in jail. 

And on the North Shore, Hahn said she had been receiving complaints from other people from the area regarding similar concerns of packs of children doing similar things on Route 112, Nesconset Highway and Middle Country Road. 

“It’s dangerous,” she said. “The police aren’t able to do very much. They need a tool to confiscate the bike to individuals who do this.”

But along with concerned residents reaching out, Hahn said she was hearing criticism over Sunderman’s bill from bicyclist groups who use their bikes recreationally. 

“The intent is very good, and it is needed to curb this kind of [bad] activity,” she said. “The groups absolutely agree with the fact that anyone who rides in a pack and pops wheelies in traffic, that should happen. But because they’re experienced bicyclists, they see the real danger every day.”

Hahn said she is in full support of Sunderman’s reckless biking bill, but there were a few small pieces to his legislation that she wanted to suggest improvements. Her bill was laid out on Nov. 4. 

“Suffolk County is notorious for not being safe for bicyclists,” she said. “The purpose of my law is just to make drivers aware — give the cyclists the room, close your door when someone is passing you, people are not looking out.”

Her bill, which will go to public hearing on Dec. 1, will help drivers of cars and bikes be more educated of the dangers they both could face if they choose to act irresponsibly. A decision, or amending, of Sunderman’s bill will be decided on Dec. 15.