Those dreaded and much loathed ATV’s and dirt bikes which have become such a thorn in the sides of Philadelphia residents for so many years have once again become the focus of attention and residents of the city are seeking change.
Members of the Queens Village Neighbors Association have had enough and organized a virtual community meeting with city officials and concerned residents on May 5th to address the matter head on.
Eleanor Ingersoll, President of Queen Village Neighbors Association made it clear that the meeting of the more than 1,100 attendants including more than 40 neighborhood groups and officials ranging from city council to police and Streets Department had one singular issue:
“How to curb the escalating safety and noise problems of ATV’s, dirt bikes, slingshots and motorcycles,” she said.
Why was there so much attention on this issue?
“Because they are racing along commercial corridors as well as residential streets, speeding in the wrong direction on city streets, racing down pedestrian sidewalks, stopping traffic to perform dangerous tricks, revving modified engines at high decibels throughout the day, evening and early morning through business corridors and residential neighborhoods. These noise and safety issues effect all corners of the city of Philadelphia,” said Ingersoll.
“It was attended by well over a thousand people. We had somebody from the city’s administration there, we had Commissioner Dale on the call, Councilman Green and Councilman Domb, and we had me,” said Councilman Mark Squilla who spoke during the meeting.
“It was attended by over 40 community groups throughout the city which all had similar concerns about how we are dealing with the issues surrounding the use of ATVs on city streets, sidewalks and other things,” he said.
Squilla said that during the meeting, members of the community shared their concerns about what the city was going to do about the topic which, in the views of many over the years, have been limited to watching the city descend into lawlessness.
Few issues could have generated such a significant gathering of community organizations as was done during the emergency meeting on ATV’s and dirt bikes and we and we asked the councilman why he believed there was such an interest.
“First of all, a lot of the concerns we heard were that people with ATV’s ride on sidewalks, where people are having meals or are walking so there’s a big safety issue. The other safety is with the riders riding the wrong way up a one-way street into traffic and also driving recklessly throughout the city going through stop signs, red lights and interfering with other people who are using those streets at those times whether it’s a bicycle, pedestrian or other people in motorized vehicles,” Squilla said.
“The main concerns are safety, and the other concerns are the noise and other things associated with them. These bikes are out there anywhere from the afternoon hours to two o’clock in the morning so that has also been a factor and that’s a quality-of-life issue.”
This isn’t the first time that city officials have held meetings to discuss the issue and, quite frankly, the people seem to have had enough with the flagrant disregard the riders of these vehicles have for others and the seemingly impotent response of law enforcement to such disregard.
“That was the frustration, feeling that the city has become a place of lawlessness and that you’re allowed to do whatever you want whether its legal or not legal. And people know that these dirt bikes and ATVs aren’t street worthy, in other words they aren’t legal by state code, you’re not allowed to ride them on the street but the city, as far as enforcement is concerned, is difficult,” said the Councilman.
One of the possible solutions now being considered is the creation of places where these riders can be accommodated safely.
“A lot of these riders are very talented, if you saw them on the streets, they’re able to do a lot of tricks and you can tell they really put a lot of time and effort into riding these vehicles. So, it’s possible to look at a location where they can have a track where they can ride off street.”
“So, we’re very supportive of something like that.”
The use of cameras, legislation which would help keep confiscated vehicles off the streets and tighten up existing loopholes in the law, were also discussed as possible solutions to the persistent problem.
Deputy Police Commissioner Joel Dales shared his frustration with this issue and updated the departments plans to address their concerns.
“I want you to know that I am frustrated just as much as the community is frustrated with the issue of ATV’s and dirt bikes in our city. But I’ll let you know that we are trying our hardest to curtail the issue,” said Dale.
Dale reported that since the beginning of the year, some 200 vehicles, including ATV’s, dirt bikes, dune buggies and minibikes among others, have been confiscated and a special detail was put in operation in March. The weekend of the meeting alone saw some 31 such vehicles confiscated.
“The Street Department has been working with the police department on traffic calming in the city of Philadelphia. We are concentrating on high injury network, where we are having the most fatalities but also where we see drag racing,” said Rich Montanez of the Streets Department.
“It’s like pushing water. We go in one place, we traffic calm that area and they appear in the other,” he said.
For more information: https://qvna.org.
Emergency Meeting on ATV’s and dirt bikes attract over a thousand