By Jessica Meditz
As locals continue to see more motorized vehicles other than standard cars on the streets, many hope that the operators — and the law — will uphold the responsibility involved with being on the road in any capacity.
In recent weeks, the Ridgewood Property Owners and Civic Association (RPOCA) penned a letter to local elected officials Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi, Assemblywoman Jenifer Rajkumar, Assemblywoman Cathy Nolan and State Senator Joseph Addabbo to propose state legislation that would regulate all motorized, two-wheeled and over vehicles.
In the letter, the group called for these vehicles to be licensed, with a metal license plate on the rear, and insured.
They also believe that all operators of such vehicles should be required to pass a written and driving test to be licensed.
The group feels that, if passed, this legislation would significantly reduce the number of traffic accidents and pedestrian injuries.
Charles Ober, the group’s president, said that as a civic association, part of their grassroots mission is to address concerns they’ve heard from members of the community — these vehicles being a common one.
“The basic complaint is they do not follow any of the traffic rules. They are very unsafe, a lot of them don’t even wear helmets. They have passengers on the back of them with no helmets, they snake in and out of traffic, they cut cars off, they go through red lights and don’t stop at stop signs,” Ober said.
“We would like to see that they be registered and insured. This is a big issue, and we think that the state can regulate it better and give the Police Department tools to enforce the law,” he continued. “We’re not trying to force them off the road, we’re asking them to follow the rules.”
According to an infographic from the DOT, Class 1, 2 and 3 e-bikes, as well as e-scooters are not currently required to be licensed or registered.
For e-scooters and Class 1 and 2 e-bikes, helmets are recommended for all, but required for 16 and 17-year-old riders and working cyclists.
All mopeds must be licensed, registered and insured — however, some residents claim that they’ve seen these vehicles operating with no license plate, as well as illegal e-mobility devices such as segways or electric skateboards.
“We’re concerned that we see unlicensed scooters and motorbikes. I saw a guy on a segway going down Central Avenue, and I saw a guy on a motorized skateboard going in the wrong direction. These vehicles are always just zooming about, zipping across traffic in and out, not stopping for lights,” said Peggy O’Kane, secretary of RPOCA.
“They’re a danger to pedestrians and cars, and they’re a danger to themselves.”
Her biggest concern is safety and accountability for all.
“People have no sense of obligation that they need to take responsibility. I think if they had to have some kind of insurance, it would be a benefit to everybody, because if they injure somebody — that somebody is straight out of luck.” she said.
At the June 104 Community Council meeting, Deputy Inspector Kevin Coleman, Commanding Officer of the 104th Precinct, said that when it comes to illegal motorbikes, the 104’s efforts are to remove them from the streets.
“What we do is we set up operations for this kind of thing and try and get them somewhere where there’s a bottleneck so we can enclose them and grab them,” Coleman said.
On Oct. 15, the 104 Precinct took to Twitter to announce the confiscation of several illegal dirt bikes, mopeds and ATVs.
When asked about his thoughts surrounding the issue, Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi said he “would be open” to further regulation of these vehicles.
“There are motorized scooters all over the place where they shouldn’t be. They’re in parks, on sidewalks, they scare people and they sound terrible,” he said. “I would be open to reasonable regulations for these vehicles.”