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Liu targets ‘pocket rockets’ after Kew Gds. Hills crash

The bill, which proposes to ban the sale of these popular alternatives to licensed vehicles throughout the city, was proposed after a combination of high speeds and cheap prices attracted more and more young drivers, and a fatal accident in the borough raised citywide concerns about the bikes' safety.City Councilman John Liu (D-Flushing), chairman of the Transportation Committee and primary supporter of the bill, has called the bikes a menace on the city streets and hopes to have a hearing on the issue by next month."It's not only their presence on the market but their downright affordability that give access to young boys that makes this a problem," Liu said. Mini-bikes can run as little as $200 to $300.Although the bikes are illegal to drive on city streets, Liu stressed that their proliferation and reckless operation would not stop until they are off the market altogether. "The stores where kids buy them are right in the city," he added.Controversy over the bikes rose to new heights last week when 19-year-old Donte Pomar was killed on one after hitting a pothole while speeding down a street in his Kew Gardens Hills neighborhood. The incident has since raised questions of how safe the bikes are for young, unlicensed teenagers. Consequently, Liu said he had received "numerous complaints logged by residents." The original version of the current bill appeared last year to address motor-scooters and their hazards. The scooters, which changed from leg- to gas-powered overtime, went about 10 mph. This year, in the wake of the Kew Gardens Hills accident, with mini-bikes available to all ages and able to go up to 35 mph, Liu plans to make "pocket rockets" the main emphasis at the next hearing where the bill will be voted on.Reach reporter Zach Patberg by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 155.

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