Fight the call of the wild ATVs, dirt bikes, and cycles

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. 

illegal vehicles roar down Broad Street (Photo: Philadelphia Inquirer)

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?

Not entirely.

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.

12 thoughts on “Fight the call of the wild ATVs, dirt bikes, and cycles”

  1. Stu, I wholehearted agree with what you suggest. Something needs to be done because this is getting worse.

  2. I was not aware of this additional joyful aspect of City living. Perhaps the City should put a bounty on these hooligans. You know…the law of the West.

  3. So sad to hear this is getting worse. Apathetic law enforcement doesn’t benefit anyone but the hooligans who create the unsafe conditions. Since a good part of this joy riding is simply thuggish behavior, intimidating the public, and delight in giving the middle finger to law enforcement giving them a trail is not the answer IMHO.

    1. Wanda, I am glad to see you here.
      While my area has been spared I have seen this grow in other areas.
      I do not believe there is a “noe size fits all” solution. The police need to determine what will work best in a given situation.

    You’re too, too subtle. Over the years, what started out as illegal but somewhat innocent rides have turned into social flashmobs on dirt bikes, quads and anything with a motor.
    It will take the combined effort of the police, D.A. and the courts to put an end to these reckless riders/bikers. How likely is that to happen ?

    1. Try to remember that, when social bonds have been completely shredded and Darwinism takes over (survival of the fittest), hooligans such as Stu has highlighted (and their more horrific ilk) will be running things.

      For a glimpse of the future, I suggest a wonderful movie: “The Book of Eli.” Denzel Washington, the finest male actor in Hollywood, does a superb job of showing us what may lie ahead.

  5. The problem is solvable but the city needs the political leadership to have a meaningful law enforcement policy. The use of spikes to flatten vehicle tires and use of electronic pulse devices to interfere with engines are two starting points. Use of speed timing device with video & photo enforcement is another option. Additionally, the intelligence unit can monitor these individual’s Facebook pages that advertise their meeting points and locations for better enforcement and law enforcement prevention planning. However the big issue is liability to the city if an enforcement issue results in injury to our MVC law breaking ATV criminal. There are more lawyers in the Philadelphia Bar Association that Philadelphia Police Officers. I understand the city’s apprehension to act. Also to consider is if a law breaker is hurt during a chase and arrest. The Woke Generation and race baiters will complain the officers acted with racial bias. If this problem occurred in Bradford County enforcement of vehicle laws would prevent it from reoccurring. Ask the Lawyers who advise the Police Commissioner along with the City Solicitor to attend your protest meeting. Good luck

  6. Stu: I concur with the solutions that you and Aloysius+Martin proffer. But quite frankly, do not expect anything will happen with Kenney, Outlaw and Krasner in charge of law enforcement in this city. Not one of them have a clue about what and how they are responsible for enforcing the law and sadly, not one of them gives a damn!! This is proven by their complete and utter neglect for real and effective law enforcement.

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