ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — On Sunday afternoon, a 9-year-old child was on the back of a dirt bike with his father when they hit a curb. The boy was taken to the hospital and later died.
Then, on Monday evening, a man driving a dirt bike was killed and his passenger was hospitalized after a crash on Hudson Avenue near Avenue D when they passed a number of vehicles on the right and drove into the Avenue D intersection, hitting a sedan. The passenger remains in critical condition.
These incidents are sparking a conversation about the laws and safety rules surrounding dirt bikes and ATVs.
Police are reminding people the safety rules to keep in mind when driving these vehicles.
According to the Monroe County Sheriff’s Office, for the most part, dirt bikes and ATVs aren’t allowed on the streets. Sergeant Matthew Mackenzie with the MCSO said this is a problem that’s getting worse.
“The rules for a dirt bike in the city of Rochester and Monroe County is the same for any motorcycle, you have to be a licensed operator, you have to have a class M endorsement, and the motorcycle has to be licensed,” Sergeant. Mackenzie said. “For the most part, dirt bikes aren’t street legal. They have different tires, they’re not required to have certain things like turn signals, speedometers.”
Marco Barbato owns All Terrain 4 Fun LLC. He’s been selling these types of vehicles for years and said you have to be very careful with them.
“The biggest problem I stress with these people is you can’t go really fast with these things and you can’t drive on dry pavement,” he said. “You can’t take a 90 degree turn real fast or else they’ll flip over and you can’t do figure eights you can’t do donuts with it.”
These vehicles also don’t require headlights. Sergeant Mackenzie said it’s common for people to not obey traffic laws when driving them on city streets.
“If a motorcycle’s not stopping for the sheriffs office, we’re not going to pursue. We don’t want to jeopardize the life of that motorcyclist or the public.”
He said violating any of the motorcycle laws could result in a traffic ticket or even criminal violations like reckless driving or endangering the welfare. He said the only place in Monroe County people can legally operate dirt bikes and ATVs is on private property.
The sergeant also said helmets are required for any legal motorcycle being driven on the road in New York state, and boots and gloves are recommended.
Rochester police said the father involved in the accident was not charged Sunday, but charges may be applied in the near future depending on the investigation.
Mayor Lovely Warren released this statement Monday regarding the accident:
“Yesterday’s news regarding the death of a young boy while riding on a motorbike is truly heartbreaking,” said Mayor Warren. “My heart goes out to his family and I ask our residents to join me in praying for them. This tragedy makes clear that riding motorbikes and ATV’s on City streets and sidewalks is dangerous and can’t be tolerated. I ask the public to be smart and only use these unlicensed vehicles on appropriate private property. We will work with the community to better educate and inform people of the dangers regarding these vehicles in City neighborhoods.”