SCHENECTADY — They're baa-ack.
The large packs of adolescent bicyclists that vexed motorists last summer in Schenectady by flouting safety conventions, some intimidating drivers, have re-emerged from their winter hibernation.
The Daily Gazette encountered a group of 20-or-so riders on Sunday who emerged from Hulett Street and ventured up State Street while popping wheelies, tangling traffic and hollering profanities.
A video posted to Facebook by a downtown apartment dweller on Sunday revealed a group -- it’s unclear if it’s the same one -- attempting to provoke a passerby at the corner of State Street and Erie Boulevard, generating dozens of comments before the clip was removed on Monday.
Lt. Ryan Macherone said their troublesome behavior is compounded this year by the coronavirus pandemic, which has seen schools pivot to remote learning and requires all-but-essential workers to stay home.
“When you have groups of 50 kids together, it’s certainly not helping anything,” Macherone said.
Macherone understands kids may be getting cabin fever, but their behavior is risky on a number of levels:
Not only are they endangering themselves and motorists by ignoring traffic laws, but they're also ignoring social distancing.
“We are going to brainstorm a little bit more on how to constructively deal with the issue,” said Macherone, who serves as the department’s director of community engagement.
Offenders are generally between the ages of 12 and 14, police said.
But their behavior can be considered violation-level offenses that should be reported.
In the meantime, city police will appeal to their parents and disperse the groups as they encounter them.
“We need to appeal to parents now more than ever,” Macherone said. “There’s a lot of issues we worry about, and quite a bit is protecting them against themselves.”
Mayor Gary McCarthy urged residents to report sightings to the city Police Department.
“We’re going to respond and disperse them,” he said. “It’s just unfortunate when people are doing things that are not only negative for themselves, but also the community as a whole.”
City Council debated legislation last August that would penalize the young riders by ticketing them, seizing their bikes and banning trick-riding
But those efforts fizzled when neighborhood leaders questioned if those measures would be counterproductive and strain community policing efforts.