When the weed eater-like sound resonates across her York West neighbourhood, Vittoria Palladinelli herds her two grandchildren inside her house and looks at the brazen riders with contempt.

The tiny motorized two-wheelers are raising a cloud of complaints in York West, where residents say the vehicles and their riders have become a public threat. Smaller than tricycles, the bikes can reach speeds of up to 100 kilometres an hour.

The mini motorcycles have been raising concern in other cities, too. A 16-year-old died in an Ottawa crash last year. Other riders have suffered serious injuries in Vancouver, Guelph and Hamilton. In Australia, several states have enacted an outright ban on their sale, and the Los Angeles police department has started confiscating the vehicles following the deaths of several teenage riders.

The city of Toronto is poised to study similar measures next week. For now, police remind the public, the miniature machines are illegal on Canadian public roads. But that doesn't prevent teenagers from continuing to zip up and down streets, sidewalks and parks, disgruntled residents say.

"It's little, it looks cute, but it comes really fast," Diana Brito says. The 17-year-old said she was walking home from school one day this spring when she was almost clipped by a biker riding on the sidewalk.

The speedsters -- and the noise they generate -- bother Larry Perlman so much that he has begun to film their antics. This past Mother's Day, the stock broker captured three videos showing a pair of pocket bikers running stop signs on his residential street near Finch and Islington. Two months ago, Mr. Perlman took his videos to the city's pedestrian committee meeting. He wants police to get tougher on the bikers buzzing his street.

While riders risk a $5,000 ticket for operating a vehicle without insurance, police have been reluctant to throw the book at teenagers, according to Toronto Police Constable Lee Bishop.

"If they're 15, driving around because Mom or Dad bought it for them, chances are they'll get a caution and be told to take it home," Const. Bishop said, adding that the courts are unlikely to prosecute a teenager for riding a pocket bike.

That could change next week, however, when the city's works committee studies a series of get-tough measures. Proposed actions include giving police the right to confiscate the two-wheelers and even a potential sales ban, said J. Richard Nelson, co-chair of the pedestrian committee.

But the issue is not clear-cut. Supporters of pocket bikes, including York West Councillor Giorgio Mammoliti, say the two-wheelers are just clean fun. "I would encourage young kids to probably buy one, as opposed to buying a gun," Councillor Mammoliti said.

His comments were echoed by a half-dozen students at St. Roch Catholic School, who each said they owned a pocket bike. While they usually ride their motorized toys in their neighbourhood, the students said they kept off the streets.

Sales of pocket bikes have soared in Canada since the first models arrived from China three years ago. As many as 25,000 of them have entered the country, Transport Canada estimates.

At his store, a replica of the Kawasaki Ninja motorcycle sells for $299. Mr. Cara said he sells the bikes only to customers over 18 and warns them that the vehicles are only meant for use on closed circuits.

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