Scrapped: NYPD says they will crush illegal bikes and ATVs this summer in street safety campaign

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NYPD showcased the fate of illegal bikes in New York City while at a press conference outside of the 33rd Precinct at 2207 Amsterdam Avenue on May 20.
Photo by Dean Moses

The NYPD is taking their effort to crush illegal motorcycles in New York City quite literally.

While announcing a summer campaign to get illegal, noisy dirt bikes and ATVs off the streets, police officials in Washington Heights on Thursday also displayed a pile of metal debris that was once a seized illegal motorcycle in the city.

The message to the city couldn’t be clearer: Either keep illegal devices off the road, or the NYPD will obliterate them.

Illegal motorcycles, dirt bikes and ATVs have plagued New Yorkers for some time now. With the roads supporting significantly less drivers during the worst of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of these dangerous vehicles bolting through the streets have only increased, which came to boiling point when a 76-year-old man was attacked for asking a driver not to speed through Inwood Hill Park by West 218th Street on May 16.

Chief of Department Rodney Harrison joined fellow police officials in the parking lot of the 33rd precinct at 2207 Amsterdam Avenue to tell the city they are taking safety seriously.

The jumbled mess of crushed metal sat just before an array of unlawful, confiscated motorbikes. This pile of junk was once a two-wheeled machine before the NYPD pulverized it — and officials say they’re prepared to do the same to other confiscated rides this summer.

Chief of Department Rodney Harrison. Photo by Dean Moses

“We assure you that the city of New York is not making a profit from the seizure of these illegal motorcycles and the most important message of the day is: We do not tolerate these illegal and dangerous vehicles,” Harrison said.

None of these dirt bikes will be sold at auction due to concerns of them returning to the street, so instead they are crushed at a location in Long Island. About 1,000 of these vehicles are crushed each year, according to Deputy Commissioner for Support Services Robert Martinez. The recycled metal is repurposed and reused.  

“Our message to the individuals who ride these motorcycles: They are illegal and dangerous. Don’t ride them because if you do, you are endangering yourself and others and if we catch you, we will confiscate these bikes and you saw where they end up. If it is not legal, it will go in the crusher,” Harrison said.

Confiscated illegal bikes before they have been crushed. Photo by Dean Moses

The main issue with these vehicles is that they are not just a nuisance, but they are dangerous, Harrison explained.

He said that many operators not only ignore traffic signals, but block traffic and drive on the sidewalk, as well as race down the city streets.

In response to the reckless operation of these illegal vehicles, the NYPD put forward a new initiative that utilizes the Crime Stoppers hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS for individuals to call in and share information on the whereabouts of these motorcycles storage locations. For every confiscated vehicle, callers — who will remain anonymous — can receive a $100 reward.

Bits of metal and debris are all that is left of the illegal bikes. Photo by Dean Moses

Chief of Transportation Kim Y. Royster said that combating illegal dirt bikes and protecting road users is a part of the NYPD’s Vision Zero plan, who says that 51 people were killed as a result of motorcycle accidents and this year alone has seen 367 injuries that involve ATVs and dirt bikes.

She also added that many of these operators are unlicensed, unregistered and not wearing protective gear.

“Eight people were killed operating one of these devices. These collisions are random and unpredictable, but definitely preventable. The victims are not just statistics but are young people. They are family and community members, and one fatality is too many,” Royster said.

Deputy Inspector Charlie A. Bello, Commanding Officer of the 33rd Precinct. Photo by Dean Moses

Royster highlighted their plan to double down on outreach to ensure the safety in communities by confiscating any illegal bike parked on the streets, and those caught operating such vehicles will have their device confiscated and could face arrest.

“Traffic safety is public safety,” Royster said.