The Suffolk County Legislature recently approved a bill to crack down on “reckless biking,” which could stop riders from endangering themselves and others on the road.
Sponsored by county Legislator Rudy Sunderman (R-Mastic), the bill claims to crack down on trick riding — like popping wheelies and swerving into traffic — and biking while intoxicated.
While it was approved 13-4, Deputy Presiding Officer Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) abstained from the vote.
“There were pieces of his bill that I really liked,” she said, “And there were some things I didn’t agree with.”
Hahn, who is still in public hearing with her complimentary bike bill, said hers focuses more on the education for drivers when put in contact with bikers on the road.
“Legislator Sunderman’s bike bill regulated dangerous behaviors by bicyclists, while my bill tries to clarify the laws about drivers and how they should pass bicyclists on the road,” she said.
She added that motor vehicle law states that a driver must pass a bicyclist at a safe distance.
“My bill states drivers need to give them at least three-feet [space],” she said.
Hahn said two legislators from the East End had some concerns regarding her bill, and she is “working to address them.”
The next general meeting is March 2 where Hahn hopes she can close the public hearing so the bill can move to the Public Safety Committee on March 11. If her bill passes, it can be voted on by the full Legislature on March 16.
Meanwhile, the Village of Port Jefferson has implemented their own policies.
According to trustee Kathianne Snaden, a new code was introduced in the fall of 2019 to pre-vent problem bikers causing issues in the village.
It started when Snaden and her daughter were outside and a young person was recklessly riding his bike in front of them, doing tricks.
“When the bicycle just about came over me and my daughter’s heads and landed in the street in front of a car, I said, ‘That’s it, I’m done. We need to do something about this.’”
That’s when the village brought in the new code, which enforces code officers to confiscate a bike from a bicyclist involved in any type of reckless behavior. The bike then must be picked up and signed for by a parent.
“Because of COVID, things were quiet in the village,” Snaden said. “But then we put together the outdoor dining and the ‘trouble’ bicyclists saw it as a beautiful stage to start performing their acts in front of the patrons.”
She said that’s when code enforcement “really put down the hammer and started implementing that code.”
Snaden said that since summer 2020, bikes have been taken and bikes have been returned to parents, with the majority of them “mortified by their children’s behavior.”
“I want to be proactive and just get them off the street, so no one gets hurt,” she said.
Along with code enforcement, the village has recently started up a task force for business owners, the Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, the commissioner of public safety, the code chief, the village attorney and a representative from the Suffolk County Police Department.
“It’s eyes on the street,” she said. “And now we’re working more as a team.”