Government considers legislation to restrict use of 'scrambler' bikes in public parks

Concerns have been expressed at the 'anti-social' nature of the bikes, which are popular with teenagers and often used in public parks and greens.

The Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has written to a number of state agencies, including the Gardai , to seek advice as to whether legislation is needed to tackle the use of so-called 'scrambler' and quad bikes in public -writes

Speaking in the Dail yesterday, Minister Flanagan said he was "very concerned" about the "serious public safety and anti-social issues" surrounding the misuse of the bikes, particularly among members of the public who are driving them in parks and similar areas.

The vehicles, which are popular among teenagers, are designed for off-road use and can only be used by people over the age of 16 who have an A1 category driver's licence, as well as insurance to operate them.

According to An Garda Siochana , users must also comply with Road Traffic Acts and the bikes may not be used in public spaces, including parks.

The Minister was responding to a question from Fianna Fail TD Jack Chambers, who asked what the Government was doing to combat the misuse of the bikes yesterday.

According to Minster Flanagan, the Department of Justice has contacted the Minister for Transport Shane Ross , the Minister for Community and Local Government Eoghan Murphy, the Garda Commissioner, and the Chairman of the Revenue Commissioners to ask for advice on legislating against the use of the bikes in public.

He said: "[W]hen all responses have been received, I intend to convene a meeting of all interested parties in order to identify more effective possible solutions and assign responsibility and timeframes for them."

He added that Gardai currently have the powers to seize and dispose of scramblers and quad bikes under road traffic legislation should they find they are being misused in parks and open spaces under by-laws set out in 2011.

But Deputy Chambers said that a "legal vacuum" currently existed where such seizures had been made, because Gardai were finding it difficult to act when the registered owners of the bikes - usually the parents of those using them - claimed them with certificates of ownership.

He said: "When seized and retained, the power of disposal is not there when an ownership certificate is produced. Lots of parents are collecting scramblers and quad bikes and the cycle continues - writes

"Not many children own these bikes and we should address the legal vacuum, at the very least, in order that they can be disposed of. It is the same people who create havoc on greens and parks and if Gardai had the power of disposal, it would quickly address the issue."

He added that Gardai had trouble apprehending offenders when they came across multiple people using the bikes at once, and that "engineering solutions", such as fencing and bike gates in parks, were not having the desired effect of deterring people from using them in public.

In response, the Minister said that the Road Safety Authority would be collaborating with Gardai regarding motorbike and quad safety issues, and anticipated a campaign which will target parents considering these vehicles as Christmas gifts.

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