SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) - Springfield Mayor Domenic Sarno issued a warning last night that police are cracking down on bicyclists and dirt bikers, but the bicyclists are speaking out, because they feel like they're being unfairly lumped with dirt bikers.
The cyclists want to remind everyone that dirt bikers riding on public roads is illegal.
They say all that they're trying to do is ride with their friends, but claim they just don't have a safe place to do it.
That's why they're asking for the city's help.
19-year-old Stephan Heathman-Guidry loves riding his bike, but, in recent weeks, many drivers have become angry with bicyclists in the city, because of the way many weave in and out of traffic.
"That's not all of us, and," Stephen tells us. "You can't get mad at us and call us the same, because you're just grouping us in. A lot of us are good kids. We just want to ride and have fun."
Ruthie Melendez is the mother of two bikers.
She tells Western Mass News she understands the frustration of drivers, but that, right now, bicyclists don't have much of a choice.
"I'm happy my son picked the bike lifestyle, and," stated Ruthie. "He's not out here using heroin, dying like his father, [who] passed away a year and a half ago selling drugs, gang banging, or getting into trouble."
The community us trying to develop a safe place for the bicyclists by working to build some sort of bike park in the city.
'We're going to call it a," says South End Citizens Council member Yolanda Cancel. "Non-motorized, wheel park, where it's conductive to people on skateboards, roller blades, bikes, and also like CHD has their wheelchair people with prosthetic legs that still do rock climbing and different things."
"People get upset that they ride on the sidewalk," South End resident Crystal Smith tells us. "My son says, 'Mom, I got in trouble for riding on the sidewalk', and I tell him, 'You do not ride on the sidewalk. You are under thirteen.', and he understands the helmet laws. A lot of these kids don't. A lot of the parents don't. It's all about education."
The South End Citizens Council is working with the teens to design the park.
The teens are just asking the city to be patient.
"We're great kids," adds Stephen. "We really are. We really just got to appreciate us. Give us some time. We're trying to talk to younger kids and tell them, 'don't do all the dumb stuff they're doing', and help them out so that they stay safe, we all stay safe, and no gets hit by cars."
A non-profit organization, called RAD-Springfield, works with young people and families to teach them about the bike laws.
Training for families on the bike laws is offered every Monday from 2:00 to 6:00 p.m. by RAD-Springfield at Make-It Springfield, located at 168 Worthington Street.