Like so many of you, I have experienced anti-social behaviour on the streets near my home. The issue of irresponsible minimoto riders is regularly brought to my attention by constituents, both at surgeries and elsewhere, and I know how strongly many of you feel about it.
This month I was able to raise your concerns in Parliament. I spoke of our local successes tackling this new type of anti-social behaviour, and backed a proposed Bill that would require the registration of all off-road vehicles, including mini-bikes, trikes and quads.
Mini motorbikes – or minimotos – are novelty items that can travel more than 60 mph. They can be a menace to the general public and also to the drivers themselves. The constant revving of engines, regardless of the time of day or night, and the speeds they do along pavements is problem enough. At times I can’t hear the telly above the noise.
I have seen this behaviour at first hand, with riders driving recklessly along pavements and through public spaces near my house at top speed – endangering anyone in their path and disrupting local residents’ evenings and weekends.
I do believe in freedom of choice, and some minimoto owners do obey the law and ride responsibly on dedicated tracks. But I also believe that residents should be able to walk safely on their streets and to get a good night’s sleep without having their lives taken over by the other sort of riders, anti-social ones revving engines and racing along residential roads.
This problem is, of course, not confined to West Ham. Nationally about 40 per cent of complaints about anti-social behaviour are about minimoto bikes, and on average these bikes are responsible for one death per month. Across the country it is estimated that there are between 100-200,000 untaxed and uninsured minimotos.
I think we need a law to clarify the position that those responsible minimoto owners already know – that unqualified riders who are under 16 or using unregistered, untaxed minimotos on public streets or footpaths is illegal. Ensuring that bikes are registered would make it easier to trace any riders who break the rules.
I also think that we need to give the police and local authorities more resources to ensure that we can catch riders breaking the law and behaving irresponsibly. As a community, we can all help tackle these sort of problems, wherever they occur, by contacting Newham Council’s anti-social behaviour hotline on 0800 731 3 300.
The Mini Moto Racing Association of Great Britain’s website is clear about the current legal status of minimotos, stating, “it is Illegal to use your minmoto on the road or pavement. Simple as that. If you want to ride your minimoto on the road, it must be registered, must pass an MOT, and must be taxed. You as the rider must also hold a suitable Driving licence, a CBT certificate, and insurance.”
Responsible riders need to heed the law, and irresponsible riders need to be stopped. I hope the Private Member’s Bill becomes law, but that law, if passed, will not be a cure all. We need the whole community to work with the police and the council to crack down on this type of behaviour.
Young people themselves are not the problem, but when the behaviour of a small minority is a danger to themselves and the rest of our community, we have a duty to intervene to stop this behaviour.