Councilwoman Carmen Castillo (Ward 9) introduced a resolution at tonight’s City Council meeting calling for the formation of a Special Commission on All-Terrain Vehicles (ATVs) and Recreational Vehicle Enforcement. Off-road vehicles are currently banned from operating on city streets as they are not designed to be street legal. The use of these off-road machines creates significant safety hazards for the public and the off-road vehicles’ operators. The resolution is co-sponsored by Council President Sabina Matos (Ward 15), Council President Pro Tempore Michael Correia (Ward 6), Council Majority Leader Jo-Ann Ryan (Ward 5) Senior Deputy Majority Leader Nicholas J. Narducci Jr. (Ward 4), Deputy Majority Leader Mary Kay Harris (Ward 11), Councilwoman Nirva LaFortune (Ward 3) Councilwoman Helen Anthony (Ward 2), Councilman James E. Taylor (Ward 8 ), Councilman Pedro Espinal (Ward 10) and Councilman John Goncalves (Ward 1).
“The illegal operation of ATVs and dirt bikes in Providence has quickly become a serious quality of life issue for the residents of Providence over the past several weeks, and has raised serious concerns from motorists, pedestrians, and residents alike,” stated Councilwoman Carmen Castillo. “On October 18, 2020, during a response to a large gathering of motorcycles, dirt bikes, and ATVs in the City, there was an incident involving a Providence Police Department vehicle and a moped which resulted in a young man, 24-year-old Jhamal Gonsalves, sustaining significant injuries that left him in a coma. This incident has shined a light on the danger and risks associated with enforcing these vehicles’ use here in Providence. As elected officials, we have an obligation to ensure the safety of our residents, and I believe by reviewing our policies and procedures, we can find solutions to the challenges we are facing.”
It has become increasingly clear that the City must undertake a comprehensive review of how Providence enforces its laws, practices, and policies governing off-road recreational vehicles, which is why Councilwoman Castillo is calling on the City Council to establish this Special Commission on ATVs and Recreational Vehicles. The Commission will be charged with studying and making recommendations regarding the City’s current enforcement practices and making recommendations regarding appropriate changes to City procedures, ordinances, and policies to prevent the operation of ATVs and recreational vehicles on the City’s streets.
Councilman John Goncalves shared, “I applaud the Council for supporting this resolution to figure out more meaningful, creative, and robust solutions to further address this. Residential neighborhoods in all parts of our city to have been affected by this ongoing issue and I look forward to working collaboratively with my council colleagues and community members to determine creative mechanisms to ensure the utmost safety of Providence residents.”
The Special Commission on All Terrain Vehicles will consist of not more than seven members, including the Commissioner of Public Safety or his designee, one member appointed by the Mayor, and five members to be appointed by the Council President.
“I am in full support of this initiative,” stated Senior Deputy Majority Leader Nicholas J. Narducci Jr. “We must work together to find the solutions that our residents are demanding to end the illegal use of these vehicles on our streets.”
Councilwoman Castillo continued, “If we are to create changes in the behavior of our residents, we must work with our community to understand their needs and how we can safely and legally allow for the use of these vehicles within our City. Currently, there is no designated area for their uses, and riders are risking their lives and the lives of others by riding them through our neighborhoods. I hope this Special Commission can create actionable steps for us to protect and preserve our quality of life, but also find outlets for residents who wish to use ATVs and dirt bikes legally and safely.”
The Special Commission will be tasked with issuing a report of recommendations to the City Council within 120 days of the date appointments are made to the Commission.