On August 8th, Legislator John Ferretti, joined with Legislators Rose Marie Walker, Tom McKevitt, Steve Rhoads and Bill Gaylor, as well as Councilman Dennis Dunn, Assemblyman John Mikulin, 8th precinct police officers, School superintendents and local civic leaders to announce two new bills to combat reckless bike riding and increase bike safety. The bills come in the wake of a tragic bicycle accident in Levittown earlier in the year where a child lost his life.
The first piece of legislation, introduced by Legislators Ferretti and McKevitt, amends the current bicycle law, mandating that children up until the age of 18 will be required to wear bike helmets while riding their bike, scooter, motorized scooter, or motorized bicycle. Nationally, almost three-quarters of fatal crashes involved a head injury. Nearly all bicyclists who died were not wearing a helmet and helmet use among those bicyclists with serious injuries was dangerously low. The current New York State law only mandates bike helmets for children under 14.
The second piece of legislation addresses a new trend that is occurring throughout Long Island where children are riding bikes and scooters recklessly, terrorizing drivers while doing wheelies, and playing chicken against traffic. The bill would impose a $100 fine on the parents of children over the age of 12 who engage in this dangerous behavior and would allow the Nassau County Police Department to impound their bikes. The bikes will only be returns to their parents. This offense would be a misdemeanor and would be handled in Family Court.
“Unsafe bike riding is dangerous for both cyclist and motorists,” Legislator Ferretti said. “This bill will help ensure the safe operation of bicycles on Nassau County roadways and remind everyone: cyclists, drivers, and pedestrians; that we have to share the road. I am hoping this leads to a reduction of these dangerous acts. I look forward to seeing them passed swiftly through the legislature with bipartisan support.”
“Too many times I’ve witnessed riding parties coming down Merrick Road, swerving in front of cars,” Legislator Gaylor said. “No longer will the Nassau Police hands be tied when it comes to minors performing these incredibly dangerous acts.”
The bill is expected to pass through Legislative Committees at the news meeting.