Cops have confiscated about 100 motor scooters and mini bikes, both of which are illegal on city streets, said Community Affairs Officer Thomas Bell.Capt. Scott Shanley, the precinct commander, launched a campaign in May to get them off the road, enticing officers with commendation medals for every five that they snare, Bell said. The captain has also investigated pocket bike retailers, citing shops that tell riders the vehicles are legal on city streets.The campaign has been a success, Bell said, with the precinct's garage packed with dozens of confiscated scooters and pocket bikes, which look like miniature Japanese street motorcycles. "I like to call them Ômotorized nuisances,'" Shanley said shortly after taking command in May. "A 12-year-old riding 40 miles per hour Ñ it's an accident waiting to happen."The wait was over last Thursday, when a teen fleeing from police died after his pocket bike crashed at 3 a.m. on 150th Street near 78th Avenue, police said. Cops were trying to stop 19-year-old Donte Pomar for riding an unregistered bike without a helmet, authorities said. The Kew Gardens Hills youth was pronounced dead at the scene, police said. Shanley said pocket bikes have been a constant plague in his area, with riders recklessly whipping around on tiny engines that howl like weedwhackers. They retail at local department stores for as low as $200, go as fast as 35 miles per hour and ride about one foot lower to the ground than regular motor bikes.The mostly teenage riders often do not even know that it is illegal to ride them on public streets, Shanley said. After cops confiscate the bikes, they summons the rider and impound the contraption with the police Property Clerk Division in Manhattan, where riders have to pay a fine and show proof of ownership to get them back.One teen who lost his scooter for a spell said the crackdown has sent a shock through the pocket-bike culture in the 104th Precinct, which covers Glendale, Maspeth, Ridgewood and Middle Village."I don't ride it any more Ñ I got arrested," said the 15-year-old, who asked that his name be withheld. He said his motor scooter, or "go-ped," cost $1,125 and was confiscated months ago while he was taking it through Juniper Park. He and his friends used to race them there regularly, he said. Now they have stopped."I told everybody that I got arrested and everything and they don't want to ride (them)," the boy said. Reach reporter Matthew Monks by e-mail at news@times
©2004 Community News Group
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