A growing number of New Jersey towns are cracking down on or outright banning ATVs and dirt bikes.

Paterson is the latest, joining Jersey City, Trenton and Atlantic City with restrictive actions.

Mayor Andre Sayegh is announcing the ban of "ATVs, dirt bikes, minibikes and snowmobiles" on all public property in Paterson, including all streets and sidewalks.

"Illegal vehicles have caused multiple injuries and fatalities throughout the years in Paterson," Sayegh said in a statement.

Violators of the new ordinance will have their vehicle impounded and subject to forfeiture and fines up to $2,000.

Jersey City passed a similar ban earlier this month after bands of ATV and dirt bike riders were seen weaving in and out of traffic and speeding down local streets.

In 2020, the Trenton City Council also banned off road vehicles on city streets.

Despite a ban in Atlantic City, the ATVs have remained a problem.

The City Council passed an additional ordinance last week that would fine gas stations $500 if the fuel up ATVs and dirt bikes that are driven into the station. They also made it illegal for self-storage facilities to store the vehicles, and ordered those facilities to evict any tenants who currently have ATVs on their property.

Pleasantville and Absecon passed similar measures.

It is illegal for all-terrain vehicles to be driven on paved roads and streets anywhere in New Jersey, but incidents have been on the rise.

There have been repeated reports of packs of ATVs, frequently driven by young people, suddenly roaring onto a street or boulevard in a town or city, panicking other drivers and pedestrians. Often, as quickly as they appear, the off-road vehicles will then turn down a side street and disappear before police can respond to the scene.

In August, Assemblyman Don Guardian, R-Atlantic, proposed a measure that would make it easier for police to track down rogue ATV riders after reports of the vehicles causing problems in because in Atlantic City, Pleasantville and other parts of the state.

Environmentalists say they also cause problems when they are used off-road when they illegally roar through forests, wetlands and other environmentally sensitive areas, doing all sorts of serious damage and disturbing the peace.

Emile DeVito, the manager of science and stewardship at the New Jersey Conservation Foundation, said ATVs are ripping up turf and causing significant destruction “on state lands, on county lands, on municipal parks, non-profit groups have very large preserves and its just an epidemic.”

In July, spokesman for the New Jersey Department of Environmental Protection said the DEP “continues working on its plans for appropriate vehicle access in Wharton State Forest, building on the common ground shared by the varied user groups who want to see forest resources protected. Upon completion, these efforts to define vehicle access will serve as the model for other protection of state-managed lands throughout the Pinelands.”

Eric Scott is the senior political director and anchor for New Jersey 101.5. You can reach him at eric.scott@townsquaremedia.com

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