Motorbikes

A group of motorists on minibikes and ATVs are shown driving on East Court Street in this screenshot of a video from last summer posted by Kankakee resident Lance Marczak. An ordinance to deal with this issue has been approved by the Ordinance Committee and awaits Kankakee City Council action.

KANKAKEE — The cold, snowy weather has aided Kankakee police in keeping unlicensed ATVs, dirt bikes and mini bikes off the streets in recent months.

The Kankakee City Council soon will be considering a more consistent way of dealing with this issue other than Mother Nature.

The council’s Ordinance Committee endorsed an ordinance this week by a 4-0 vote to make it an ordinance violation to have any such vehicle on any city street, sidewalk or even at a park.

Voting to move this ordinance to the full council were committee chairman Tyler Tall Sr., D-5; Stacy Gall, D-2; Mike Cobbs, D-6; and Cherry Malone-Marshall, D-1. Alderman David Crawford, R-3, abstained.

The proposed ordinance is not expected to be acted upon at Monday’s Kankakee City Council meeting.

Tall said he hopes the law is approved before warmer weather arrives and these mini bikes are taken out of garages and start invading the streets once again.

“If we don’t have anything on the books, if there are no consequences, this situation will only continue,” Tall said after the meeting. “I believe this is a good ordinance for a start. If changes are needed, things can be added.

“... I fear someone is going to get seriously hurt or killed doing this. This situation has gotten way out of hand. All it takes is one accident.”

The law also requires owners to annually register these vehicle as well as have proof the vehicles are insured.

The law does not allow for the licensing of golf carts.

The ATVs and dirt bikes will be allowed to use private property, but they must first obtain written permission of the property owner if the property is not owned by the operator of the motorized bike.

The committee sent the measure to the full city council. The law would require a yearly $20 registration fee.

Whether registered or not, the vehicles will not be allowed on roadways, sidewalks and parks. Anyone caught riding in these prohibited areas will be cited and fined $250 for a first offense.

The fine escalates to $500 for a second ticket and $750 for a third. Passengers on these vehicles also will be ticketed.

If the operator of the vehicle is a minor — younger than 16 — the citation will be the responsibility of the minor’s parent or guardian.

The proposed ordinance also states it is unlawful to sell gas for these vehicles unless they are on a trailer or transported in a similar manner. A gas station can be fined $100 for selling gas to someone using the vehicle in an inappropriate manner.

Police Chief Frank Kosman told the committee Tuesday this law would give police another tool to combat this issue.

“These vehicles are still illegal on the city streets. These vehicles are not licensed to be on the road. This measure makes it a city ordinance violation,” Kosman said.

During this past summer, there was a dramatic uptick with these unlicensed vehicles traveling along city streets and sidewalks. In many cases the drivers of these mini bikes, ATVs and dirt bikes blatantly disregarded traffic laws, such as stopping at red lights or stop signs.

Lee Provost, an award-winning reporter, has been writing local news stories for The Daily Journal since 1988. He is a lifelong resident of the region. Provost can be reached at lprovost@daily-journal.com.