Off-road motorcycle riders cause alarm

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An Alexandra resident has fears someone will be killed, as police warn off-road motorcycle riders to stick to designated areas and urge the public to report any illegal off-road motorcycle activity.

Following a story last week highlighting safety concerns around the use of four-wheel-drive vehicles in the area, The News was contacted by a resident who said he was nearly hit by an off-road motorcycle rider earlier in the week.

The resident, who asked to remain anonymous, said a rider had been seen crossing Shaky Bridge and using the river track a couple of times a week.

The narrow track did not allow for pedestrians or cyclists to get out of the way of riders, he said.

“There’s nowhere to go but down the river.

“It’s an accident waiting to happen.”

Sergeant Bruce Martin, of the Alexandra road policing group, said he was not aware of any complaints about motorcycle riders in that area, but said the activity was illegal.

“You’re not allowed them on the rail trail and certainly Shaky Bridge is not designed for dirt bikes.

“They definitely shouldn’t be using that at all. It’s designed as a walking-cycling track – track being the operative word.”

Potential charges for someone riding a dirt bike illegally would depend on the circumstances, he said.

“If it involved a collision with a pedestrian we would start having a look at quite serious charges, because it is a motor vehicle and if they’re using it there it would be deemed almost to be a road.”

Sgt Martin said there had also been an increase in the number of dirt bikes being ridden through The Pines, despite a council bylaw banning it.

“Dirt bikes can be used on private land no problem at all, or in a designated area that’s been specifically put aside for them.

“They can’t be used pell-mell to go where they wish to.

“If they’re on private property, of course they need landowner’s permission.”

If someone came across a dirt bike being ridden illegally, the best course of action was to take a photograph and immediately report the incident to police, he said.

“Unfortunately [it can be hard to identify owners] because most bikes don’t have registration plates but a really good description of the rider, what they’re wearing and the bike if they know it, is always a good lead.

“It’s always a difficult inquiry to follow up on to identify because they’re generally wearing helmets but certainly clothing description is a good starting point.”

Most riders breaking the rules were young males, he said.

“I understand they’re out there wanting to have a bit of fun but there’s a time and a place.

“The rules are there for safety. It’s not there to spoil their fun.”

He warned the public not to take matters into their own hands and said they should try to remain polite if they did stop and speak to a rider.

Reporting to police should be the first course of action, he said.