The Reason Why NYC Destroys Hundreds Of Dirt Bikes And ATVs Each Year

New York City is the most densely populated city in the United States. With some 8.5 million people stuffed inside approximately 305 square miles, its five boroughs are comprised of diverse neighborhoods, each with their own culture and flair. With that many people, one can understand how it's become known as "The City that Never Sleeps."

New York has long been considered a place you could live without a car because of its immense public transportation system. Like most big cities, traffic is not only a nightmare of epic proportions, but parking spots for 4-wheeled beasts are as rare as a Fabergé Egg and just as expensive. During the pandemic, New Yorkers went and bought cars in droves for fear of getting COVID-19 if they took public transit.

Cars aren't the only problems, though. Over the last few years, NYC has been inundated by illegally operated dirt bikes and ATVs. They have been seen racing down streets, zipping around traffic and on sidewalks, going through public parks, riding the wrong way down one-way streets, and sometimes being used to commit other more heinous crimes. As if the denizens of Gotham needed another reason to keep them up at night.

On your marks, get set... crush!

In 2021, eight people were killed by dirt bikes or ATVs, and the New York Police Department, along with then-Mayor Bill de Blasio, went on a crusade to get rid of illegal vehicles, according to The City. By the end of the year, the city had seized and subsequently destroyed approximately 500 bikes. As many as 3,000 were ultimately crushed under the tracked wheels of a bulldozer in 2021 (via The City).

When new Mayor Eric Adams took office on January 1, 2022, he continued the fight. By June, they had seized over 2,000 bikes — almost 80% over the number they took by that time the previous year. And there's no sign of letting up, with the police nabbing more than 250 on a single Sunday in August.

The dirt bikes and ATVs are not street legal to begin with, lacking several required features like turn signals, brake lights, and mirrors. According to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles, any 1985 or newer motorcycle must be equipped with directional or turn signals that show amber to the front and red or amber to the rear. It must also have an adjustable rear view mirror, a red stop lamp on the back, and a headlamp on the front of the vehicle. None of these things are found on a vast majority of the illegal vehicles that, as Mayor Adams put it, are continuing to terrorize the city.

What's the problem, bikes or cars?

NYPD Chief of Patrol Jeffrey Maddrey says owners have 15 days to obtain proper permits and get their bikes out of impound before they are permanently seized and crushed. "I told people who ride these bikes, if you don't ride them, we won't take them," Maddrey told ABC7. "But they didn't hear that truce, and they continue to ride, so they will continue to take."

But not everyone takes what the police or the Mayor are putting down. One dirt bike rider who called himself "Dollah King" — preferring to stay anonymous for fear of reprisal — told The City, "It's better for us than standing on the street selling [drugs], you know." He brought race into the equation, saying that if riders are black, the cops go after them, but if they're white, they don't bother chasing them down.

While the Streets Blog for NYC pointed out that "recklessly operated illegal" dirt bikes and ATVs are a problem, cars that are "recklessly operated" are a much greater danger. Recent statistics show that 59 traffic-related deaths occurred in New York City during the first three months of 2022 — a 44% increase over the previous year. Furthermore, there was a total of 93 hit-and-runs with critical injuries in 2021. With SUVs now making up more than 60% of all vehicles in New York, pedestrian fatalities involving the larger vehicles have increased by 42 percent.

With lines being marked on the means streets of NYC in tire rubber ... the war on illegal dirt bikes and ATVs looks like it will rage on for some time.