A rally to protest streets being taken over by street-illegal ATVs and dirt bikes, plus street-legal racing cars and motorcycles that are driven illegally, will be held Monday at 4 p.m. on the Art Museum steps.
You should attend if possible.
There are at least three issues:
1- The unmitigated noise of these machines, some lacking mufflers, and others outfitted with arena-quality stereo speakers that blast “music” that can be heard for blocks.
2- The blatant law-breaking as they ignore stop signs and blast through red lights. Many drive on the wrong side of the street.
3- The thousands of dollars of damage they cause when they leave the streets and plow through, and destroy, park grass and recreational fields.
How much more of this can we take, and why?
The “why” is easy. Philadelphia Police Department policy is to not pursue.
Because of a legitimate fear that chasing them will cause them to speed (more) and lead to crashes with damage to property and life.
In my fantasy life, the cops bump into their vehicles, knocking them over. Or roping the drivers like rodeo calfs. Or throwing nets over them, like from the Batmobile.
But that would lead to litigation.
So the hands of police are tied?
Under state law, illegal vehicles can be confiscated, destroyed and/or sold.
Over the years, Philly police have seized “hundreds” of the illegal vehicles, mostly when they are parked.
And this gives a hint toward the solution.
If you can’t grab these irrepressible knotheads when they are moving, seize them when they are parked.
This requires a new police strategy.
Police cars are not mobile enough to keep up with the dirt bikes. So call the Highway Patrol motorcycle force.
The HP can follow the vehicles to their lair, and grab them there.
Skilled HP riders also might be able to cut out a few — like cowboys singling out a steer — and confiscate them.
PPD has helicopters, but they are not mobile enough to follow the knotheads. PPD needs more drones to follow the ATVs and dirt bikes home, where they then can be corralled.
The vehicle gangsters usually travel in large groups, creating unsafe conditions for drivers around them. They are too fast for roadblocks, unless the cops know when they are coming. These mass movements are usually announced and organized on social media, so cops need to dig deeper there.
The city could try setting up an ATV track somewhere in Fairmount Park, or the Navy Yard, or on a pier. Anything’s worth a try, I guess, but for these knotheads half the fun is breaking the law.
In addition to confiscation, the riders ought to be hit with heavy fines and suspension of drivers’ licenses, if they have them.
If you are serious about solving the problem, you need serious enforcement and penalties.