MORE than 1,600 people have backed calls for bike barriers in Southampton to stop “dangerous” anti-social bike riders.

Described as a “blight” on the area, the calls come after years of riders using the pathways around Coxford and Lordswood to escape from police.

One resident told the Echo her children are now scared to go for a walk or even just play in the garden because of the bikes racing past.

Earlier this week Coxford ward councillor Matt Renyard presented a petition with more than 1,600 signatures calling on the council to install barriers to deter anti-social bike riding.

Daily Echo: A photo of three teens who were seen riding through Lordswood woods in April 2020.A photo of three teens who were seen riding through Lordswood woods in April 2020.

That has prompted councillors to set up a so-called task and finish group to look at where barriers could be put in.

Cllr Reynard said he had personally spoken to many people who have experienced “fear and intimidation” as a result of the bikes.

“The residents of Coxford are worried if they speak out publicly, then they may become targets. This is not just kids having fun.

“The paths have become a means for the bikes to travel around the ward, evading police.”

READ MORE: Stolen motorbike seized by Southampton police

One Lordswood resident, who did not want to be named, said: “I have seen mothers literally grab their kids by the coat and pull them out of harm’s way.

“We have lived here for 12 years, and I’d say the last six years it’s just escalated.

"It’s ruined the house we love and the area we love because we don’t feel safe anymore.”

Daily Echo: Damage to the green caused by motorcyclists in Lordswood, Southampton.Damage to the green caused by motorcyclists in Lordswood, Southampton.

Jim Morrison, a Lordswood-based neighbourhood watch coordinator, said the barriers are not enough and called for further action like more police.

In response to the petition presented at Wednesday's council meeting, deputy leader of the council Cllr Jeremy Moulton said: “There’s definitely a big problem with youths on motorbikes driving illegally and dangerously around the city and Coxford ward suffers the most from that.

“It is particularly acute at the moment, but it has been a problem for many years.

“Barriers might be part of the solution. I don’t think any of us really expect that barriers are going to solve the problem.

"It is going to require a joined-up approach with the council and the police.”

Daily Echo: Lordswood, Southampton.Lordswood, Southampton.

He added that the Tory administration will do “everything it possibly can” to support police in cracking down on the issue.

Police have also launched an operation to crack down on the illegal and dangerous use of motorcycles across Southampton.

PC Simon Peacock of Southampton’s Millbrook and Redbridge Neighbourhood Policing Team, said the force is “wholly committed to tackling the ongoing issues”.

Daily Echo: Anti-social motorbike riding on pathways at Turnstone Gardens. Anti-social motorbike riding on pathways at Turnstone Gardens.

“We have seen a reduction in the issue over the last few years. However, more recently, we have seen a slight spike in incidents in the Lords Hill area including reports of bikes riding along pathways.

READ MORE: Southampton police arrest teenage 'scoundrels' after chase

“We fully appreciate the concerns raised by the community and rest assured that our local Neighbourhood Policing Team will always take every available opportunity to review all reasonable lines of enquiry.”

He added that police have stepped up patrols calling on residents to help by reporting incidents.

READ MORE: Hundreds back calls for anti-bike barriers in Southampton

Donna Jones, Police and Crime Commissioner added that tackling ASB is one of her "key priorities" and that the newly set up ASB Taskforce is working to tackle problems that require "action beyond policing".

"Earlier this year I approved funding for three off-road motorcycles for the police. These bikes will help us to stay on top of these issues.”

Cllr Renyard said after the meeting that he welcomes the new group to tackle the issue but would like to see more commitment from the council.