Illegal off-road bikers are leaving West Lothian residents scared to go walk their dogs over fear of being run down – with new calls for a suitable facility to be provided for riders.
Local police have started a rolling programme of days of action and as well as ongoing appeals for information from the public on those who terrorise housing estates using the off-road motorcycles.
And almost 300 people responded to a report on quad and motorbikes problems on the council’s social media page.
While many condemned the illegal activity across the county, many criticised the council for not providing suitable facilities for the use of off-road bikes and quad bikes.
One said: “Every Sunday there’s folk out on quad bikes / motor bikes in Fauldhouse. They tear up the paths in the main forestry and they tear up the paths at the forest area at the back of Fallas Place. I don’t feel comfortable walking my dog here over the weekends through fear of him being knocked over.
“Doesn’t seem to matter how we voice our concerns as nothing seems to be done about them.”
But another response was echoed by many: “Build a decent place for people to go and this won’t happen. Plenty money wasted on bins that talk to you and cycle lanes on the road…at least spare a bit of land for these guys and maybe there wouldn’t be as much of them running the streets.”
Police have already attended hotspots across the county from Fauldhouse to the bings at Broxburn and Winchburgh which are protected monuments. The bings featured on motocross and racing quad bike websites drawing riders from around the UK.
It is a big problem in housing areas. In recent years a local community police officer was forced to retire early after being struck and badly injured by a motorcycle in Livingston and, last year, a ten year old girl was injured by a bike ridden by a 17-year-old who was later charged.
Aside from the illegality of using the bikes on footpaths, many of the culprits are under age and without licences or safety gear.
The misuse of quad bikes is also a growing problem with its own dangers to both the public as well as riders often not wearing protective gear or helmets.
A spokesperson for the council told the Local Democracy Reporting Service: “Unauthorised motor and quad bike use can be hugely damaging to our countryside and wildlife sites, impacting on the wildlife who call these sites home, as well as putting the public at risk of serious injury whilst spoiling their enjoyment.
“The current wet ground conditions means that these bikes are ripping up grass and ruining wildlife habitats, as the current issue in the Oakbank area, off the A71 near Livingston, demonstrates.”
The spokesperson said Police Scotland had urged anyone who witnessed motor or quad bikes being used illegally to report them by calling 101 or online at the Police Scotland Reporting Form.
Executive councillor for the environment and sustainability Tom Conn said: “We are appealing for anyone with information on those using motor or quad bikes illegally in our open spaces, parks, country parks and wildlife sites to report them to Police Scotland.
“Whilst we appreciate some motor and quad bike riders can be frustrated at the lack of dedicated facilities for this kind of activity in Scotland, this type of behaviour is irresponsible, illegal and could cause long-term environmental damage.
“West Lothian is fortunate to be home to some incredible sites of natural beauty and fascinating wildlife, and it’s important that these are protected for the benefit of everyone.”
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