POLICE say youngsters are putting their lives at risk by using mini-motorbikes on public roads.

Officers in the Heworth area of York have received eight reports since Christmas of youngsters, mostly young teenagers, riding the machines on the highway.

Mini-motorbikes are classed in law as motorcycles or mopeds depending on their engine size. To go on a public highway, they need to be registered for road use, taxed and have lights, brakes and a registration plate. The rider must wear a helmet, and have passed the appropriate test.

PC Jon Bostwick said the bikes, also known as monkey bikes, were not for road use

He said: "The youngsters are not only risking life and limb, they are also committing a large range of offences. The bottom line is that these machines are not safe enough to mix in with modern traffic.

"They are so small that they, and their riders, are too low to be seen by drivers of other vehicles, especially big vans and lorries."

He said a Heworth car driver recently missed a mini-bike rider by inches when it came into his path as he reversed out of his drive.

PC Bostwick said: "Parents need to keep a very close eye on what their children are doing with their minibikes.

"Private land is fine and, properly supervised, these little machines can give children a useful introduction to motorbike control, but using them on a road or a pavement just risks injury or prosecution, or both."