It’s that time of year again when school is out and kids are looking for fun things to do. One of those things could be the long-favorite pastime of bicycling. However, over the past few years there has been a dangerous trend on Long Island that seems to primarily involve adolescents and teens: reckless bicycling. We need to crack down on this problem, and that means everyone from parents to law enforcement will have to get serious about it.
Here’s the situation: On many occasions and in most all of our reader areas, motorists have encountered large groups of kids on bicycles swerving in and out of lanes, cutting off cars—sometimes just before a possible impact—playing “chicken” with their lives and the lives of others. While in the act they laugh, taunt and sometimes curse at the drivers while showing no regard for the severity of this type of behavior.
That’s a big problem. So what can be done about this dangerous situation?
According to a flier put out by the Suffolk County Police Department, reckless bicycling is against the law and punishable by confiscating the bike and with a fine that the parents will have to pay. They could also be charged with reckless endangerment misdemeanor, which is one that will remain on the individual’s record. Do these kids know that? Do their parents know that? If schools haven’t been taking the time to educate students and parents about all of these consequences—not to mention, the physical harm that could result—they should begin doing so. And if law enforcement hasn’t come down hard on that type of violation, they need to get tough on the young perpetrators of these crimes. They owe that to the kids, their parents and victimized motorists, too.
According to that latest statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (www.cdc.gov), there were more than 1,000 bicyclists killed in the U.S. in 2015. And there were nearly 467,000 bike-related injuries, many of them serious. The harsh reality is that any bicyclist faces a higher risk of crash-related injury and death than those riding in motor vehicles. Tie in reckless bicycling and that risk is much higher. Duh.
Don’t they know a bike is no match for a 3,000-pound car?