Christmas campaign to stop parents buying quad bikes, scramblers for children
Minister rejects SF Bill to prevent use in public parks, greens, housing estates
Ilabek Avetian (39) at Beaumont Hospital. He suffered severe head injuries after a scrambler bike fell on him as he sunbathed in a Dublin park this summer. Photograph: Olivia Lynott
The Road Safety Authority will run a publicity campaign for Christmas urging parents not to buy scrambler or quad bikes as presents for children.
Minister for Transport Shane Ross said that local councils will run a similar campaign as part of efforts to deal with quad bikes being used in open spaces and parks.
But he refused to accept Sinn Féin legislation to change the definition of a public space in order to make the use of these bikes illegal in parks, housing estates and greens.
Sinn Féin TD Dessie Ellis said gardaí had little powers of enforcement because of a gap in the legislation.
Children as young as six were driving these bikes uninsured in parks even though it is illegal to sell, loan or give as a gift a mechanically-propelled vehicle to anyone under 16, he said.
But parks, housing estates and public greens were not considered public spaces and quad bikes and scramblers had caused a number of fatalities and serious injuries.
He highlighted the case of Ilabek Avetian who he said is in a vegetative state in hospital after a scrambler landed on him while he was sunbathing, in north Dublin in June.
His wife Anzhela was also injured in the incident when she suffered a broken pelvis.
Mr Ellis said “communities believe they are effectively being terrorised by those who use quad bikes and scramblers in public places, especially local parks.
“Such vehicles are repeatedly being used by some to damage property and football pitches and even to threaten people, while also engaging in other anti-social activity.”
Mr Ellis was speaking as he was introducing the Road Traffic (Quads and Scramblers) (Amendment) Bill.
He accused the Government of hypocrisy on the issue and said that in the four years since he had first introduced legislation to deal with the problem of scramblers and quad bikes “we’re getting the same answer again”.
“We’re going to kick the can down the road for another few years and further tragedies are inevitable.”
Mr Ross acknowledged the critical importance of examining legislation including the powers available to An Garda Síochána under public order and criminal justice legislation. But he said it was inappropriate to tackle the issue by changing the definition of “public place” in the road traffic Acts.
He said its definition was central to road traffic legislation “particularly in the area of intoxicated driving. An amendment such as that proposed puts that definition at significant risk.”
Road traffic legislation had been subject to many legal challenges and was now “robust and widely accepted” in the enforcement and subsequent prosecution of road traffic Acts.
Mr Ellis had proposed the legislation also include a requirement for proper insurance coverage, powers of confiscation, and the inclusion of roller bars on quad bikes used legally such as in farming.
He said there should be a register for such vehicles, they should have licence plates and the possibility of using trackers on such quad bikes and scramblers should be explored.