Drift trikers glide down Okemo Mountain Road during a recent competition. Ludlow police and town officials will talk about making all roads safe after two drift trikers crashed into a truck.
LUDLOW — Police and town officials plan to discuss how to regulate an action sport that recently left two men in critical condition.
According to Ludlow police, people were riding “drift trikes” down Okemo Mountain Road on Aug. 25 when two of them crashed head-on into a truck going the opposite direction. Tim Riley, 47, and Chris Chico, 25, both of Chester, suffered multiple broken bones and internal injuries and were in critical condition when they arrived at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center in Lebanon, N.H.
Chico was released from the hospital Thursday, and Riley remains in critical condition, according to hospital media spokesman Mike Barwell.
Drift trikes are three-wheeled bicycles with low-riding seats and long frames. They have slick rear wheels, normally made from a hard plastic, and are intended to “drift” through corners without rear traction, according to Wikipedia.
Ludlow Police Chief Jeff Billings said Okemo Mountain Road is used for sanctioned drift triking events, but there was none taking place at the time of the crash. The road was open to traffic at the same time a group of 14 local trikers with the New England Drift Triking Association was using it.
According to Billings, the road must be accessible and safe for pedestrians and drivers when there are no competitions occurring, but concerns over the trikes’ use were growing before the crash. Billings said the police received complaints about their increased presence on roads this summer, including near crashes on local roads.
“We’ve had numerous phone calls from people in vehicles where they’ve been run off the road or nearly hit by them,” Billings said. “We’ve talked to riders in the past. In the spring, we had an issue about trikers riding down West Hill. But since then we’ve had none come up until (last) Sunday.”
Billings intends to speak with town officials at their next meeting in October about the situation, but he said there are no plans to ban the bikes.
“I’m against the bikes riding on open roadways. I don’t believe they are safe. We’ll figure out where to go from there,” Billings said.
The New England Drift Triking Association maintains that its members are not lawless riders. Matt McCarty, of the organization, said they are law-abiding riders and practice safe riding. According to McCarty, the cause of the accident might have been inexperience.
“We’ve evolved safety protocols over the years, and we’re doing our best to protect ourselves. There’s so many protocols now because we don’t want something like this accident to happen again,” McCarty said.
Members of the association have used Okemo Mountain Road often, even when no events are taking place. According to McCarty they have used Okemo Mountain Road responsibly and can use it when there is no sanctioned event.
“No one has written anything saying that we can’t use it on Sundays. Being a taxpayer of the state, we’re allowed to use the road when it fits,” McCarty said. The road passes through Okemo State Forest.
Okemo Vice President and General Manager Bruce Schmidt said the resort “does not support or condone” the use of drift trikes but does support Billings’ efforts to make Okemo safe.
“Using drift trikes on a public road that allows vehicle traffic is dangerous and should be dealt with to the fullest extent of the law,” Schmidt wrote in an email. “We will work with the state Forest and Parks (Department) and local law enforcement to do our part to help make the road safer.”
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