"Neighbors and community leaders have quite frankly had enough," Reynolds Brown said. "Factor in that young people are losing their lives, and we have a real public-safety crisis on our hands. Communities and families need to know that we hear them and are looking for solutions."
Every summer, the noise, dangerous maneuvers and destructive tendencies of ATVs and dirt bikes top the lists of citizens' complaints at community meetings. Yet the city for years has had a hands-off policy when it comes to cracking down on them.
Police bigwigs forbid pursuit, saying it's too dangerous and difficult to chase dirt bikes and ATVs, which easily escape by zipping up sidewalks and narrow streets, ducking into forested parks and tearing the wrong way down one-way streets. Yet riders say the frustrated rank-and-file often ignore that policy and not only chase them, but ram, pepper-spray and Taser them, too.
Police in the spring urged citizens to report any facilities where ATVs and dirt-bikers keep their vehicles, saying they're prone to theft and could be taken off the streets if found to be stolen. But on a public-policy level, authorities have missed many opportunities to control one of the city's biggest summertime banes.
The city even sells ATVs and dirt bikes seized by police at Philadelphia Parking Authority auctions,.
"What's in place is not working," Reynolds Brown said. "We need to look to see what other cities are doing in terms of best practices to see what we can adopt. Police are now handcuffed, if you will, with their no-chase policy, so that is impacting why ATVs continue to be out of control."
Other cities have banned gas stations from selling fuel to ATV and dirt-bike riders and have threatened parents with jail for allowing minors to ride, she added.
More than 700 people have signed a change.org petition urging city and state lawmakers to address the issue. n
— Staff writer Catherine Lucey contributed to this report. Contact Dana DiFilippo at 215-854-5934, firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @DanaDiFilippo. Read her blog at phillyconfidential.com.