Saugerties police have received numerous complaints recently regarding youths riding bicycles erratically, police chief Joseph Sinagra said. The police chief, along with several board members, named Washington Avenue, Main Street, Partition Street and Route 9W in Barclay Heights as locations where problems were taking place.
“Anyone who is on Neighbors, the social-media site, knows that it was blowing up this weekend with people complaining,” Sinagra said at the meeting of the village board. “Maybe the papers can print this. I don’t want to be the Gestapo of bicycles.”
“There’s one group of six kids, and I know them,” said mayor William Murphy. “They’re not bad kids.”
Sinagra asked whether Murphy could talk to them. “I did, they cut in front of a car in front of me,” the mayor replied. “He cut right in front of me, and his friends yelled, ‘That’s the mayor, you idiot.’”
Sinagra identified two problems. “Someone is going to be seriously injured, and the other part is the adults are getting very frustrated. I don’t want somebody getting hurt,” he said. Sinagra estimated that about a dozen youths were the major contributors to the problem.
Several people at the meeting mentioned skateboards, as well.
“Remember, in the village — the business district particularly — you have to walk your bicycle,” the police chief said. “That’s according to local law, and the use of skateboards. I know we’ve become quite lax on that, but if we have to then we’re going to start taking bicycles away from people and issuing summonses. I don’t want to have to do that, but if I have to …
Sinagra said the rule against riding bicycles applies to both sidewalks and roadways. Bicycles must be walked on the sidewalks, he said. He said he would check with the village attorney for an interpretation. He defined the business district as Main Street from Market Street to Washington Avenue, and along Partition Street to Russell Street.
Murphy said bicycle riders in general were not the problem, “It’s the kids showing off.” One questioner recalled that a few years ago the chief announced a strict enforcement of jaywalking rules, and the incidence of jaywalking was sharply reduced. Couldn’t this be done with bicyclists as well?
“We could, but I’d rather see cooperation,” Sinagra said. “Parents need to talk to their kids. You can tell by these numbers I’m giving you that we’ve had an increase this year in calls for service. We’re busy, and now we could be sidetracked handling bicycle complaints.”
The brief period of strict enforcement of jaywalking rules had led to a dramatic decrease in violations, Sinagra conceded. “This year we’ve only had one pedestrian struck by a car.”