The Providence City Council tonight approved an ordinance that allows the Providence Police Department to confiscate and destroy recreational vehicles that are driven in the city illegally. In recent months, the city has faced an alarming uptick of unauthorized recreational vehicles being used on city roads and in public parks, sometimes swarming in large numbers to intimidate the public. On Easter weekend, dozens of people riding dirt bikes and ATVs swarmed a playground on Aleppo Street, endangering the twenty parkgoers who fled the area when the pack arrived. One motorist was killed while operating an ATV on a city street in the Manton neighborhood earlier this year.
“We have been hearing from many residents and community organizations about dangerous incidents across the city involving ATVS and dirt bikes,” said Council President Luis Aponte (Ward 10). “These incidents threaten everyone’s safety, and the ordinance we passed tonight gives our police department greater latitude in addressing the problem.”
Rhode Island Foundation President Neil Steinberg recently stated in a letter to the Council that ATV and off-road motor vehicles “are causing significant damage” to Roger Williams Park, and that “large groups of riders frequently meet in the Park to ride off-road on trails and fields.” He noted that the vehicles’ damage to Roger Williams Park has cost the Providence Parks Department nearly $20,000 in repairs.
The ordinance, adapted from a similar law in New York City, has already earned support from the Providence Police Department. “The City of Providence has experienced lawlessness in the illegal use of all-terrain vehicles and off road motorbikes on our City Streets,” said Public Safety Commissioner Steven Pare. “This has created a danger to our community and to our police officers who try to intercept these vehicles driving at high rates of speed on our streets, in our parks and on the bike path. The ordinance will allow the Providence Police to stop, seize and potentially forfeit these vehicles so they are forever removed from the public spaces that they operate illegally. We thank the Council for their support in this ordinance and we look forward to removing this menace from our community once and for all.”
“This is a city-wide issue that has great implications for the quality of life in all of our neighborhoods,” said Councilwoman Ryan (Ward 5), who sponsored the ordinance. “This ordinance gives our Police officers the tools they need to deal with the growing epidemic of illegal vehicles abusing our traffic laws and endangering the public.”
“We are doing everything we possibly can to rid the city of the ATVs and dirt bikes terrorizing our parks and neighborhoods,” said Councilman Michael Correia (Ward 6), who recently called upon the police department for increased enforcement.