New law on ATVs, dirt bikes now in effect

Philly police have successfully launched a new city law aimed at clearing illegal ATV riders and dirt-bikers out of public parks and streets, but the "bike life" trend has proven persistently deadly regionally, with at least four fatal wrecks in the past 14 months.

Police impounded 26 ATVs and dirt bikes through Monday and issued 57 citations through May 7 (more recent figures are unavailable due to a paperwork lag), under a law first enforced April 6 that stiffens penalties for illegal riders, police data shows.

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Yazid Naseem, 13, died after crashing his ATV in Southwest Philly Saturday morning.

Riders historically have hit the streets in droves as the weather warms, many eschewing helmets as they wheelie and speed through favorite spots like the Belmont Plateau and Hunting Park. Citizens' worries about their dangerous maneuvers have proven justified: A dirt-biker left a 5-year-old in Hunting Park with a broken collarbone and ribs on May 5 after he lost control and plowed into the child as he stood in a grassy area waiting to climb into his mother's car. The biker then fled.

Still, the illegal pastime has proven even more dangerous for riders: Yazid Naseem, 13, of Wilmington, Del., died Saturday morning after he crashed his ATV into a tree and pole in Southwest Philly; Marvin Ware, 25, of Overbrook, died April 4 after he drove his dirt bike into a trolley median and crashed in West Philly; Eric Robinson, 28, of Belmont, died April 2, after he rammed his dirt bike into a streetlight in Upper Darby; and Jermaine Alexander, 14, of Frankford, died March 13, 2012, after he t-boned a car while riding a dirt bike near his home.

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Administration reported in February that 11,688 people died in accidents involving ATVs (not including dirt bikes) between 1982 and 2011, the most recent year for which statistics are available. Pennsylvania was the third-deadliest state for ATV riders for much of the last 25 years, according to the data.

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