Cleveland City Council Likely to Increase Penalties for Dirt Bike Riders

click to enlarge VANICE ALEXANDER / SCENE
Vanice Alexander / Scene

At a meeting this afternoon, Cleveland City Council will discuss amendments to legislation regarding penalties for those who ride dirt bikes and all-terrain vehicles on city streets. Council leadership appears confident that stricter penalties will be voted on Monday evening and immediately go into effect.

Sponsored by Council President Blaine Griffin and Safety Committee Chair Mike Polensek, the legislation would increase the financial penalties for those who operate "unregistered and noncompliant" vehicles — dirt bikes, mainly — that "disregard the health, safety and travel of persons" on Cleveland's streets.

Currently, fines for riding dirt bikes are minor, typically between $50 and $100. The proposed amendment would increase fines to $500 for a first offense and $1,000 for subsequent offenses.

The amendment would also make noise violations near residential areas and blocking intersections for stunt riding first-degree misdemeanors punishable by a $1,000 fine. (Currently, these are second degree misdemeanors.)

Safety Director Karrie Howard supports the harsher penalties. In a letter to council members, he wrote that the increased financial penalties would be a "deterrent to reckless operation" of these vehicles, which have been controversial in Cleveland for years. 

"Passage of this legislation is critical for the health, safety and travel of persons on city streets," Howard wrote.

Mayor Frank Jackson, whose grandsons were active participants in the bike life, attempted to get a dirt bike track off the ground during the latter years of his mayoral tenure. But the effort was derailed both by logistical hurdles and popular opposition.

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About The Author

Sam Allard

Sam Allard is the Senior Writer at Scene, in which capacity he covers politics and power and writes about movies when time permits. He's a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and the NEOMFA at Cleveland State. Prior to joining Scene, he was encamped in Sarajevo, Bosnia, on an...
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