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teens on bikes

Police said a number of young people on bikes physically and verbally harassed members of a Port Jefferson Station gym last Thursday. Photo from Crossfit DHP

Crossfit DHP in Port Jefferson Station was the site of a tense confrontation between the owners of a local gym and a crowd of children and teens on bikes. Though police said nobody was hurt, owners said this could be a learning experience that parents make sure kids show respect.

Suffolk County Police said around 20 young people on bikes were roving around the Port Jeff Station area July 23, and that officers responded to two disturbances outside the gym at 5:30 and then around 6:15 p.m. Police said once they arrived, the groups dispersed with no injuries on either side.

Police said the young people then traveled to Wendy’s on Nesconset Highway and allegedly threw drinks and cursed at patrons. 

Two tickets were issued to two of the juvenile’s parents.

In a statement, gym owners said a group of young men and women on their bikes were seen smoking weed behind the building when they started harassing gym members who were going on their run.

We asked them to be aware of our presence but then they started hitting our members with their bikes,” the statement reads. “At that point we asked them to leave and that we would call the cops to which they said they were proud that the cops were chasing them around all day. With a lot of vulgar language and verbal harassment, they did start to leave as the cops escorted them out.”

On the way out, gym owners said one kid tried to throw a barbell at one of the gym members. The bikers left after police were initially called, but about 10 minutes later came back to harass the gym again. That is when the video was recorded, and owners said the bikers took pipes from their bikes and swung them at member’s heads. 

“To go even further, several of them spit on us, which during a pandemic is unquestionably wrong,” the statement read.

On July 31, police announced they have made two arrests, namely two males, both 15 years old, of Centereach, whom police said were involved in the incident.

One of the teens was charged with 2nd degree reckless endangerment for throwing a barbell at a gym member, and the other was charged with second degree menacing for swinging a bicycle seat at another gym member.

The teens were issued desk appearance tickets and scheduled for arraignment at Suffolk County Family Court in Central Islip Aug. 14.

A viral video posted to the Comsewogue Community Facebook page has since been taken down, but in that video the crowd of young people, most not wearing masks, surrounded the front of the gym’s parking lot where owners and a few gym members confronted them. 

One unidentified young person in the video in a light blue shirt became physical with one unidentified person from the gym, seemingly throwing a punch that doesn’t connect. Young people could be heard swearing and threatening the adults. Another man stepped forward holding a rod of some kind, but in the video he does not appear to use it on the bikers. 

At one point in the video, somebody tried to grab something from a woman at the gym, and a brief struggle ensued but was quickly broken up. 

Owner of the gym Ryder Champouillon and his wife and fellow gym coach Jen posted a video to their gym Facebook page the day after the original video was released, thanking community members for their well wishes.

In the statement, the gym owners thanked Suffolk County Police along with Suffolk Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) for their genuine response to the incident. 

In the gym’s statement, they said this is not the first episode of harassment in the local community, and many more have posted about such incidents to community Facebook pages. Though thanks to the community, owners said they have already been able to identify many of the people in that video.

Our sole purpose within our facility is to offer the community a single outlet to find healthcare, nutrition and exercise that improves our lives, which improves our community as a whole,” the statement read. “We spoke earlier with members of the local government about moving forward with programs for the community and youth to have an outlet surrounded by positive role models.”

Owners asked anybody who could identify the bikers to send a confidential email to [email protected]

This post has been updated July 31 with information on two arrests.

Photo from SCPD

There was a time when we were all children, and while some of us may claim to have been perfect saints of juvenile life, many of us surely broke the rules.

Long Island is a particularly strange place to grow up. Its suburbia is often bordered by mini-metropolitan areas, but for long stretches of the North Shore, there is nothing but roads and the trees that border them.

That brings us to the bikers, the terrors of the streets. Pedals pumping, wheels in the air, driving in and around traffic, these young bikers have left an impression on local Facebook groups, to say the least. We hope parents will have a conversation with their children about bicycle safety relating to our article in this week’s edition of the paper.

But what has changed to create this fad of running bicycles in dense areas? Really, has anything changed?

There’s been no new bike technology that makes popping a wheelie easier. There’s no singular popular figure emphasizing kids take their bikes to the streets. In fact, you would likely have a harder time finding a house on Long Island that doesn’t have at least one bike in its garage.

The thing is, there is no real safe place for the youth to ride their bikes in this manner. If a person started biking from Rocky Point, it would take traveling all the way to Huntington or Riverhead just to find a single skate park that can accommodate a more adventurous biker than hike and bike trails can handle.

That’s not to mention just how dangerous our roads truly are. According to a 2015 report, seven out of 10 of New York state’s most dangerous roads are right here on Long Island, including such roads as Route 25.

Not to give any sort of pass to the young people playing chicken with a vehicle four times its size with twice as many wheels, but the case of these bicyclists is just one story that is the saga for youth having nothing to occupy them on the
North Shore.

No, the kids should not be allowed to bike in and out of traffic, intimidating those behind the wheel. They are a danger to themselves and others, but ask what they should be doing instead? There is a significant lack of skate parks in which people can ride their bikes.

The Rails to Trails project, which will create a hiking and biking trail from Wading River to Mount Sinai, is a good start, but we still do not have a confirmed date when that project will begin, let alone at which end of the trail construction will kick off. There is also the Greenway Trail from Port Jefferson Station through Setauket, but again, that will only scratch the itch of those into a relatively leisurely ride.

For years now, kids on the North Shore have had very little in terms of outdoor sports for those who are not into the classic school-based team sports. 

Perhaps it’s time North Shore parents, officials and business leaders think about finding a better place for those kids to bike, where they won’t drive into traffic. There is obviously a market for it. 

Or maybe we should start an organization like the Peace Corps, only local in scope, to encourage our young to aid the elderly and the needy. All that youthful energy could be put to a more noble purpose.