The search for a man who was recorded illegally riding a dirt bike along Shelton’s walking trails has ended after a person who read an article on SheltonHerald.com alerted the police of his identity, according to the city’s natural resource manager and member of the Conservation Commission Teresa Gallagher.
According to Gallagher, the Shelton Police followed up on the reader’s tip and issued the rider a fine. She said it’s important for residents and riders alike to know that all riding of ATVs and dirt bikes is illegal, unless it is on their own property or they’re in possession of written permission.
Gallagher said the person who filmed the latest rider on the trail wished to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation.
Before the man was caught, Gallagher explained that this incident is the most recent to have been reported after a summer filled with similar complaints filed by community members.
“We’ve had issues with ATVs and dirt bike issues since the trails were first formed, but it does seem that this particular summer there were a lot more complaints received both by people walking the trails and the neighbors,” said Gallagher.
Within the last few months, there have been noise complaints and one case of a dirt bike rider accidentally trespassing on a resident’s driveway because the rider thought it was a part of the walking trails late at night.
“We like to be good neighbors and we don’t want people to use the trails in order to disturb other neighbors. It’s not right,” said Gallagher.
The trail’s entrance has signs stating that ATV and dirt bike riding along the trails is prohibited, and Gallagher said she doesn’t feel the need to add more because of state law enforcing that rule.
She said the trail has sustained minor damage as a result of riders, nothing substantial but enough to raise concerns for some of the city’s avid trail walkers.
“There hasn’t been enough usage to make a huge difference, but they kick out the gravel… We want them to have a very slow surface and we paid a lot of money to have it graded out and smoothed out,” she said.
“This particular section the rider was on was just smoothed out last year, and I could see where he created a little divot. Some of the rec path walkers can be elderly and therefore have less balance, which could cause a problem.”
Gallagher said there’s obviously no way to keep track of all the people illegally riding on the city’s walking trails, but she was surprised to learn both children and adults are doing it.
“Somebody I saw on the Paugussett Trail riding about a year ago was clearly in his 40s,” said Gallagher. “I could see the bald spot on the top of his head from a distance.”
“The whole point of the rec path is to get away from having to worry about motorized vehicles,” said Gallagher.
People are encouraged to not risk their own safety but to get a description of the bike and the rider in order to notify Shelton police.