New Bedford crafting ordinance against dirt bike, ATV use on city streets

An Eyewitness News viewer captured video October 31, 2016 that showed dozens of dirt bikes, ATVs and off-road vehicles on the streets of New Bedford. (WPRI.com)
An Eyewitness News viewer captured video October 31, 2016 that showed dozens of dirt bikes, ATVs and off-road vehicles on the streets of New Bedford. (WPRI.com)

NEW BEDFORD, Mass. (WPRI) — After a Halloween incident where a police officer was hit by a dirt bike, the city of New Bedford is making a push to curb the use of recreational vehicles on city streets.

Mayor Jon Mitchell, city council members, and New Bedford Police Chief Joseph Cordeiro said Monday they are crafting a new ordinance to address dirt bikes, all-terrain vehicles (ATVs), and other off-highway vehicles. The state’s General Law, Chapter 90B, already prohibits these off-road vehicles on public ways. But a new city ordinance would empower the police department to levy fines against operators — and confiscate vehicles.

Under the proposed ordinance, violators would face a $300 fine and impoundment of the vehicle.

“We are not going to allow the reckless use of off-road vehicles endanger our residents or erode the quality of life of our neighborhoods,” said Mitchell.

New Bedford Police Sergeant Candido Trinidad was hit by a dirt bike on Halloween as a group of officers were tracking an organized ride of off-road vehicles on city streets. Nine people were arrested originally, and 14 vehicles seized. At last work,  police said a total of fifteen people have now been charged.

Chief Joseph Cordeiro encouraged the public to report any off-road vehicles they see to police. “I urge the family and friends of persons engaging this reckless behavior to encourage them to stop before anyone else is seriously injured,” he said.

Since June, New Bedford Police said they’ve cited 69 operators, towed 69 recreational vehicles and arrested 23 people for violating existing laws.

The ordinance is expected to be voted upon at a city council meeting in December.