Lakeshore Drive in Pasadena appears to be a quiet street where people can go for a nice walk or kids can play, but looks can be deceiving, according to residents.
The street near Pasadena Beach, a popular gathering place for townspeople and many throughout the region, is also an attractive spot for dirt bike operators.
While recreational use of any off-road or all-terrain vehicles is not frowned upon by area residents, the reckless driving of them is. A number of the residents are concerned for their safety, especially those who walk and have children at play.
Sherry Humber, who regularly has her grandchildren visit, said she no longer lets the young ones play on or near the road.
“My grandchildren would always go up in the area of the road,” she said. “Right now, I wouldn’t let them go on the road to ride their bike if my life depended on it — not unless there is somebody with them.”
Humber called it an “awful” situation, and she believes it to be a matter of time before somebody is hurt — a pedestrian or one of the riders themselves. She said they drive at a high rate of speed, often doing wheelies and other potentially dangerous stunts.
“We live in a place where sometimes you can go out on the road on your quad or dirt bike, which is nice,” she said. “Most people really respect the fact there is people and children around on the streets and walking. It seems the younger ones have no notice of that whatsoever.”
Another concerned citizen, who did not want to be identified out of concern of repercussion from those responsible, echoed those sentiments. She said it is a daily occurrence, whereby riders are travelling at high speeds and side-by-side.
Both residents reported multiple instances of near collisions while driving or walking. They both also said people drive their dirt bikes to and on the beach, which is a very busy place in the summer.
In a letter to the town on the issue, it was stressed that Lakeshore Drive itself is below municipal standards in terms of adequate space on the sides of the roads for pedestrians.
Pasadena Mayor Otto Goulding, who was not aware of that particular complaint, said he knows there is an issue pertaining to off-road and all-terrain vehicle operators. He did say there had not been a lot of complaints.
“Any complaint would be a concern, so we would review the information and have a discussion about it at the council level,” he said. “Obviously, if that is not a licensed vehicle, it is illegal to operate there. Something like that, we would have to call the police about.”
Meanwhile, Cpl. Eric Humber of the Deer Lake Royal Canadian Mounted Police said there have been complaints of reckless off-road or all-terrain vehicle operation in Pasadena — the same as in Deer Lake and other area municipalities.
In Deer Lake, the town addressed the issue at the council level, and discussion included the possibility of banning these recreation vehicles from the town.
Humber said the investigation of such complaints is difficult for police. Many times, according to the officer, these drivers will not stop for police and patrols will not pursue for safety reasons to the fleeing riders.
It is also challenging because many small-town residents do not want to get involved directly. However, the officer encourages complainants to provide detailed descriptions of the riders, including identifying them or licence plates when possible.
Humber said police often use its discretion pertaining to recreation vehicle use, especially in rural Newfoundland and Labrador. Typically, as long as a vehicle is driven with due care, crossing a street or using the side of a roadway would not be a big concern.
However, when warranted, he said police will issue warnings, tickets, or even seize vehicles.
Police regularly patrol areas they have deemed high risk, but he said there is a need for more than just enforcement in such cases.
“Through the community, and through other investigative means, we have to try to come up with a safe way of addressing this,” Humber said. “We are trying, but obviously it is a fact of living in Newfoundland where we have these machines.”
As for the issues raised with respect to Lakeshore Drive as a roadway, Goulding said there are many streets in Pasadena in need of sidewalks and upgraded infrastructure. The town’s biggest challenge is the money for such projects.
While it would be ideal to see developers include such infrastructure in its projects, according to the mayor, many areas were developed without it.