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Astoria Residents Sick And Tired Of Illegal ATVs, Dirt Bikes Taking Over Local Park

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- New Yorkers say they're sick and tired of seeing ATVs and dirt bikes on city streets.

Frustrated neighbors in Astoria say it's now happening in their park, where they come to exercise and relax.

"They go up and down the grass. It's just dangerous for everyone," Cristina Guarino told CBS2's Cory James.

She's fed up with the illegal activity taking over pedestrian paths and the grass. She recorded video of her confronting the riders last October, hoping they would stop.

"They started screaming back at us, threatening to fight us, threatening to hit us. A few concerned pedestrians nearby had called the police because they were getting really aggressive," she said.

The aggression has played out in front of Max Silverstein.

"I saw an elderly woman get run over by an ATV, actually, and the guy just sped off and a whole crowd of people waited until an ambulance came," he said. "It's terrifying because ... it can happen to anyone."

Mayor Bill de Blasio was questioned about these dangerous joyrides plaguing parts of New York City on Friday.

"I'm really concerned about this, and I have gotten regular reports about this problem," he said. "So I will talk with police leadership about addressing this problem."

But the NYPD is limited on what they can do to stop those driving off-road machines on roadways and sidewalks.

The department policy for chases "requires that a vehicle pursuit be terminated whenever the risks to uniformed members of the service and the public outweigh the danger to the community."

While some of the bikes are confiscated and taken to the junkyard, not all of them become crushed metal, leaving many more out and in the hands of people pestering communities.

"I hope that something is done about it because I've heard stories of people moving out of the neighborhood because the issue has gotten so bad ... and I'd be lying if I said I didn't think about doing the same thing," Guarino said.

In recent weeks, the NYPD says it has taken dozens of ATVs and dirt bikes off the streets. Officers have even arrested riders as well.

Police say if you see anyone operating the vehicles illegally, contact them immediately.

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