The NYPD staged a daylong show of force Sunday at two key entry points to the Rockaways in an effort to thwart the marauding gangs of illegal dirt bike and ATV operators who have been wreaking havoc on roadways and terrorizing residents on the peninsula in recent weeks.
Councilwoman Joann Ariola organized the multi-agency response after swarms of bikers barreled through Rockaway, Broad Channel, Howard Beach, Ozone Park and Woodhaven with increasing frequency.
“We’ve seen large groups of people on dirt bikes, ATVs and motorcycles pouring through these neighborhoods for weeks, and today’s police action sent a clear message that this will not be tolerated,” Ariola said. “Having groups of bikers numbering in the hundreds, disobeying the law, and in some cases even assaulting and injuring our residents is yet another symptom of the lawlessness that has taken over this city. That ends today.”
Sunday’s mobilization was the largest action undertaken in response to the “marauding groups,” Ariola added. She worked with the 100th, 102nd and 106th precincts, as well as the mayor’s office, the National Parks Service, the Queens district attorney’s office and even the Department of Sanitation to establish checkpoints on Cross Bay Boulevard near the Jamaica Bay Wildlife Refuge as well as near the Marine Parkway Bridge from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
An NYPD spokesperson would not say if arrests were made but did say that 11 motorcycles were seized during the initiative on Sunday.
“The NYPD is aggressively pursuing every method to rid our streets of illegal dirt bikes and ATVs,” the NYPD spokesperson said. “The end result must ensure the safety of our citizens while ridding our streets of this menace.”
The NYPD has seized nearly 2,000 illegal dirt bikes, ATVs and motorcycles in 2022, which represents an increase of nearly 88% over this time last year.
Last month, Mayor Eric Adams and the NYPD announced a crackdown on illegal dirt bikes and ATVs and those that ride them in large and intimidating gangs.
“They are not only a nuisance and an annoyance to us, but they’re extremely dangerous. We know that,” Adams said. “We see them all the time and we hear them at all times at night. We see the large numbers that are moving throughout our streets, and we want to be clear that this is not acceptable. Of course, we need to do more and we are going to do more. We’re going to continue this pattern to rid the streets of these bikes.”
NYPD Commissioner Keechant Sewell joined the mayor during the launch of the new initiative.
“We’re here to send a very strong message to anyone who illegally operates an ATV, dirt bike or other such vehicles on the streets of New York City,” she said. “We will seize that bike and we will destroy it. Our city will not tolerate this, and the NYPD will use every tool at our disposal to rid our neighborhoods of these hazards.”
Ariola said the enforcement operation is expected to continue in and around the Rockaways until the danger they present to her constituents is finally ended.