SCHENECTADY — Roving packs of adolescent bicyclists are clogging streets and causing problems in the city, officials say.
City Council President Ed Kosiur said emails and phone calls are pouring in from constituents about large groups of bicyclists, as many as 15 to 20 young people at a time, popping wheelies, riding in traffic and engaging in a variety of troublesome behavior, including kicking and spitting on vehicles, hitting mirrors and overall operating “with no understanding of laws of the city.”
Kosiur said he nearly clipped one young bicyclist who drove in front of his car near Proctors.
“I was within inches of hitting one kid, who kicked the car and went on,” Kosiur said.
He also watched a video of a group of 10 kids snaking down Crane Street.
Despite honking from motorists, he said, “the kids just continued right on down the road.”
Rotterdam and Niskayuna are also encountering similar issues and are urging safe bicycling practices.
Schenectady police said they are aware of the problem and are engaged in numerous community outreach events designed to promote bicycling safety.
“A lot of times we try to talk with them,” Lt. Brian Whipple told the City Council’s Public Safety Committee on Monday. “They run away from us.”
Whipple said the offenders are generally between the ages of 12 and 14 and cannot be ticketed because they are under the age of 16. But their behavior can be considered violation-level offenses that should be reported, he said, primarily to keep them and passing motorists safe.
Vehicle damage, however, is a crime.
“We try to let them know what the consequences of their actions are,” Whipple said.
City police Lt. Ryan D. Macherone, who leads the department’s neighborhood engagement outreach, has recently been certified as a bike officer and will start patrolling, Whipple said.
Councilman Vince Riggi also noted the presence of bicycles modified with motors on city streets.
“There are investigations going on right now,” Whipple said. “We definitely have intel of several things we’re working on now.”