Council propose scrambler track to combat anti-social behaviour in city

Stock photo.

ONE solution offered by councillors to anti-social behaviour throughout the city from youths on scrambler bikes is a park specifically for those who use these motorised vehicles.

At this Monday’s Metropolitan District meeting, Green Party councillor Seán Hartigan proposed that the local authority write to the Garda Chief Superintendent to outline their concerns regarding the use of scrambler bikes, as well as associated anti-social and criminal behaviour on the smarter travel paths from Lock Quay and Corbally to University of Limerick (UL).

The Green councillor also wished to request regular police presence for the path.

Cllr Hartigan told council members that you rarely see a police presence along the canal and called for more Gardaí to be sent to the area.

“I have recently seen a child no more than eight driving a petrol scrambler on a public green. I have also seen a 12-year-old travelling on the roads on a scrambler. I cycle the canal/riverside path daily from Lock Quay to UL and sometimes onto Annacotty or out to Corbally. I frequently see scramblers using these paths and it is frightening, intimidating, and dangerous, especially for parents with children and pet owners,” Cllr Hartigan commented.

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“I have seen scramblers drive directly at people to frighten them, people being pushed, and attempts at pushing bicycles into the river. In 37 years of cycling on this path, I have  very rarely seen any Garda,” he added.

Labour Party councillor Conor Sheehan added that a youth on a scrambler drove at his mother recently on Pa Healy Road.

Cllr Sheehan also claimed that open drug dealing was taking place at the entrance to Lock Quay by youngsters on scramblers who have their faces covered.

“There was a terrifying incident recently where a young woman was punched in the face while out jogging along the canal. It is absolutely desperate. We need Garda plain clothes officers in the areas where most of the problems are recurring,” he suggested.

The City North representative also called for engagement with An Garda Síochána, the Road Safety Authority (RSA), and Limerick Youth Service in tackling this issue.

“More stick isn’t going to solve the problem. What we need is an extensive plain clothes Garda operation.”

Social Democrats councillor Elisa O’Donovan deemed the issue one for national government, maintaining the issue is around legislation.

Cllr O’Donovan also suggested that the Council look at a scrambler track for young people to safely use these vehicles in the city.

Labour Party councillor Elena Secas was of the view that the issue is growing daily and agreed that a public space should be made available for young people to use scrambler bikes in a safe manner.

“It might help the situation,” Cllr Secas added.

New Cathaoirleach of the Metropolitan District, Cllr Azad Talukder, took a more heavy-handed view. He believes scramblers should be banned outright in all parks.

“A lot of children are around and playing, and they feel very unsafe,” he told council members.

Sinn Féin councillor Tom Collopy raised concerns over the age of some of the children using scrambler bikes, many of whom have been reported as wearing face masks and balaclavas.

“The age gap is getting younger and with even younger pillion passengers on city streets. These faceless youths are intimidating people and carrying out these actions with impunity. It is anti-social in the extreme. It needs to be stamped out before there’s a fatality,” he insisted.

Fianna Fáil councillor James Collins agreed that the anti-social behaviour along the canal bank is getting worse.

“This is a law and order issue. It is up to the Garda Chief Superintendent to allocate resources.

“Scrambler bikes are moving at speed, sometimes against traffic in cycle lanes and now with the emergence of electric scramblers, you can’t hear them coming. It is getting worse and can’t be allowed to continue. Gardaí need to get creative,” Cllr Collins said.

Cllr Hartigan told councillors that he considered the notion of a scrambler track a “red herring”.

“You would need to be have a driver’s licence and a car with a trailer or van to get to these scrambler parks. The scrambler users I see, I don’t think they’d dirty their tackies on a track,” he concluded.