Chicopee police “zero tolerance” for reckless driving of illegal dirt bikes and bicycles

Hampden County

CHICOPEE, Mass. (WWLP/ – Mayor Vieau held a news conference Thursday to update the community of the coronavirus pandemic within the city. Vieau changed the topic with inviting Chicopee Police Captain Jeff Gawron to update on the illegal pedal bikes, dirt bikes, motorcycles, and quads with reckless driving in the city and in western Massachusetts.

Captain Garwon discussed the safety hazard the illegal dirt bikes, bicycles in the road, and drag racing that are causing issues with the public and the lawful people on the roadways, walking, driving, and also a safety hazard for the illegal operators of these bikes.

The Chicopee Police Department is working with the fire department, EMS, and the police from Springfield and Holyoke to continue to enforce the rules, laws and regulations concerning these individuals.

“The Chicopee Police Department has zero tolerance with this type of behavior.”

Captain Garwon

The Chicopee Police Department will continue to work with Springfield and Holyoke to share information between the cities to put a stop to the reckless driving on city streets.

The Springfield Police Department has a new metro unit vehicle that is used to respond to calls for illegal dirt bikes in the downtown area.

Off-Highway Vehicle Safety Laws


  • “Recreation vehicle” or “off-highway vehicle” – Any motor vehicle designed or modified for use over unimproved terrain for recreation or pleasure while not on a public way. This includes all-terrain vehicles, off-highway motorcycles, dirt bikes, and recreation utility vehicles. Also included are all registered motor vehicles when operated off of a public way.
  • “All-terrain vehicle” – a motorized recreation vehicle designed or modified for travel on 4 low pressure tires and having a seat designed to be straddled by the operator and handlebars for steering control.
  • “Dirt bike” – a recreation vehicle that is a lightweight motorcycle, equipped with two in-line wheels, designed for operation on unpaved surfaces, dirt roads, and trails.
  • “Recreation utility vehicle” or “utility vehicle” – a motorized flotation tire vehicle with not less than 4 and not more than 6 low pressure tires that is limited in engine displacement to less than 1,500 cubic centimeters and in total dry weight to not more than 1,800 pounds and that has a seat that is of bench design, not intended to be straddled by the operator, and a steering wheel for control.

Age Restrictions

  • No person under 18 years of age shall operate a recreation vehicle or recreation utility vehicle unless he has successfully completed an approved recreation vehicle safety and responsibility course. For information, contact the Boat & RV Safety Bureau.
  • No person under the age of 16½ shall operate a recreation vehicle across a public way unless directly supervised by an adult (18 years of age or older). The public way and the crossing must be marked and approved for recreation vehicle use.
  • No person between 14 – 16 years of age shall operate an all-terrain vehicle or a recreation utility vehicle with an engine capacity greater than 90 cubic centimeters. When operating such vehicles 90 cubic centimeters or less, persons between 14 – 16 years of age must be directly supervised by an adult.
  • No person between 10 – 14 years of age shall operate a recreation vehicle unless directly supervised by an adult while in preparation for, or while participating in, a sanctioned race, rally, or organized event which has been approved by a municipal permitting authority. If operating an all- terrain vehicle or a recreation utility vehicle, engine capacity must be equal to or less than 90 cubic centimeters.
  • Persons under 10 years of age may only operate an age/size appropriate dirt bike under direct adult supervision while in preparation for, or while participating in, a sanctioned event which has been approved by a municipal permitting authority. Preparation for such an event may only occur on private property.

Prohibited Operation

The following are some examples of prohibited operation:

  • Operating under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Operating on public ways or upon or across a controlled access highway. 
  • Failure to come to a complete stop when crossing an approved public way (must yield to motor vehicle traffic).
  • Operating at an unreasonable, improper, or unsafe speed for existing conditions.
  • Operating on land of another without written permission of the owner.
  • Operating within 150 feet of a residence without permission of the owner.
  • Operating a vehicle which emits noxious fumes or makes excessive noise.
  • Operating in a manner that causes damage to public or private property.
  • Operating on an ocean beach or sand dune in a manner so as to destroy, damage or break down any beach, dune or dune grass.
  • Operating in a manner so as to harass or chase wildlife or domestic animals.
  • Operating on any public property not designated for recreation vehicle use.

Safety Equipment

Persons operating, riding on, or being towed by a recreation vehicle shall wear an approved helmet. Each recreation vehicle must also be equipped with an adequate braking system. An adequate muffler designed to reduce unusual or excessive noise and noxious fumes is required. Each recreation vehicle must be equipped with one or more headlights, a red rear light and red rear reflector when operated after sunset. A trailer attached to a recreation vehicle must have a red rear reflector.

Registration, Decals and Trail Permits

Recreation vehicles operated on public or private property must be registered through the Massachusetts Environmental Police, except if used exclusively for agricultural, forestry, lumbering or construction purposes. Application for said exemption is required. Out-of-state recreation vehicle registrations are not valid in Massachusetts.  The assigned registration decals shall be firmly attached to both sides of the vehicle and located so that both are clearly visible. The validation date shall be displayed on the left side of the vehicle. The registration certificate shall be in the possession of the operator. For further registration information, contact the Massachusetts Environmental Police


The operator or owner of a recreation vehicle involved in a collision, accident or other such casualty
resulting in death or injury to a person or damage to property in excess of $50.00 shall notify a law
enforcement officer immediately and file a written report of the incident with the MA Environmental Police within 48 hours. To obtain report forms or further safety/legal information contact the Boat and Recreation Vehicle Safety Bureau.


To report violations of recreation vehicle or snowmobile laws, or other environmental or wildlife laws, contact the Environmental Police Radio Communications Center at 1-800-632-8075

Do you know the bicycle safety laws in Massachusetts?

When riding on public ways, bicyclists must obey the same basic traffic laws and regulations that apply to motor vehicle operators. The rules for bicycles are listed here.

As a bicyclist:

  • You can use the full lane anywhere, anytime, and on any street (except limited access or express state highways where signs specifically prohibiting bicycles have been posted), even if there is a bike lane.
  • You must bike in the same direction as traffic unless otherwise indicated by signs or markings.
  • You must stop at red lights and stop signs.
  • You can keep to the right when passing a motor vehicle moving in the travel lane and you can move to the front of an intersection at stop lights.
  • You must signal your intent by either hand to stop or turn. However, the signal does not have to be continuous or be made at all if both hands are needed for the bicycle’s safe operation.
  • You can ride on sidewalks outside of business districts for safety unless banned locally.
  • If on the sidewalk, you must yield to pedestrians and give an audible signal before overtaking or passing (no sirens or whistles).
  • No more than two bicycles can be operated side-by-side. On a roadway with more than one lane in the direction of travel, bicyclists riding side-by-side must stay in one lane and not unnecessarily restrict a passing vehicle’s ability to overtake you.
  • You must maintain a safe distance from other bicyclists, especially when approaching intersections.
  • You must slow down when approaching crosswalks, especially during heavy traffic.
  • You must ride on or astride a permanent seat affixed to the bicycle. A passenger must also ride on a permanent seat attached to the bicycle or to a trailer towed by the bicycle.
  • You cannot transport a person who is between one and four years old or who weighs 40 lbs. or less except in a “baby seat” attached to the bicycle. The person must be in a harness, be seated in an upright position, and their hands and feet must be protected from hitting the wheel spokes. A person can ride on or astride a seat on a tandem bicycle if the person can reach the pedals and handlebars. You cannot transport a child under the age of one year on a bicycle.
  • A bicycle helmet approved by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission must be worn by a bicycle operator or passenger under 16 years old. It must be secured to the person’s head when the bicycle is operated on a public way or bicycle path, unless the passenger is secured in an enclosed trailer which protects his/her head.
  • You must give an audible warning (other than a siren or whistle) when necessary to ensure safe operation.
  • You can park your bicycle on a way or a sidewalk, but only if it does not obstruct vehicle or pedestrian traffic.
  • You cannot let the bicycle be pulled by another vehicle and can only tow a bicycle trailer.
  • You cannot carry any objects that would interfere with the safe operation of the bicycle and must keep one hand on the handlebars at all times.
  • You must have a proper working brake system to stop from 15 MPH within 30 feet.
  • From a half hour after sunset to a half hour before sunrise, you must have a white lamp in front visible from up to 500 feet and a rear facing red light or reflector visible up to 600 feet.
  • From a half hour after sunset to a half hour before sunrise, you must have a reflector on each pedal or your ankles, or reflective material on yourself or on the bicycle. The reflectors must be visible up to 600 feet from all sides.
  • Your handlebars cannot be set at a height above your shoulders while gripping them and you cannot extend the fork from its original manufacturer’s design.
  • You must report any crash involving personal injury and any crash involving property damage in excess of $100 to the police in the municipality where it occurred.

In addition to the laws listed above, bicyclists should also do the following:

  • Ride in a straight line so drivers and pedestrians know where to expect you.
  • Ride at appropriate speeds on shared paths and streets. If riding on a sidewalk where it is legal, you must ride at a walking speed and yield to pedestrians.
  • Put your phone away when biking. Do not text and bike.
  • Yield to pedestrians. Be alert and prepared to stop for them.
  • Slow down as you approach crosswalks.
  • Ride outside of the “door zone” (at least three feet from parked cars) and watch for opening car doors.
  • Give other bicyclists room. Pass other bicyclists on the left, not the right. Don’t cut in front of other bicyclists who are stopped at an intersection.
  • At intersections, assume drivers cannot see you. Slow down and try to make eye contact with the driver. Anticipate when drivers may turn. Don’t try to race by a driver at an intersection. Maintain a safe speed.
  • Give buses, trucks, and other large vehicles room and avoid riding next to them or passing them. They make wide turns, take time to come to a full stop, and have large blind spots. Be especially careful in the rear blind spot and don’t assume the driver can see you. Never pass a moving tractor trailer on the right.
  • Don’t pass buses on the right. You might hit someone exiting the bus or get squeezed into the curb. If passing a bus on the left, pay attention and expect it to re-enter the lane.
  • Do not wear headphones or earbuds in both ears while biking.

As a motorist in the presence of bicycles:

  • Do Not Cut-Off After Passing: When passing a bicycle traveling in the same direction that is on your right, you must not return to the right until you have safely passed the overtaken bicycle.
  • Do Not Make an Abrupt Turn After Passing: When passing a bicycle near an intersection or driveway where you want to turn right, you cannot turn unless you are at a safe distance from the bicyclist and you can make the turn at a reasonable and proper speed.
  • Do Not Squeeze Bicycles in a Narrow Lane: If a lane is too narrow to pass a bicycle at a safe distance, be PATIENT until you can safely use an adjacent lane or WAIT until it is safe to pass in the lane you share. You should stay at least three feet away when passing.
  • Do Not Fail to Yield When Turning Left: When turning left at an intersection or into an alley, private road, or driveway, you must yield the right of way to a vehicle approaching from the opposite direction, including a bicycle, if it is in the intersection or close enough to be an immediate hazard.
  • Watch for Bicycles on Your Right: Bicycles can legally ride to the right of motor vehicle traffic. The law says it is not a defense for a motorist causing a crash with a bicycle that the bicycle was to the right of other traffic.
  • Do Not Open a Door Without First Looking: Drivers and passengers can be fined up to $100 for opening a vehicle door into an oncoming bicycle. Before opening your door, you should always check behind you to make sure that no bicyclists are approaching.
  • Be aware that bicyclists can ride two bicycles side-by-side. However, on a road with more than one lane in the direction of travel, they must stay in one lane.
  • Be aware that bicyclists Do Not Always Have to Signal Turns! Bicyclists must signal their intent by either hand to stop or turn. However, the signal does not have to be continuous or be made at all if both hands are needed for the bicycle’s safe operation.

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