Wednesday, April 16, 2014
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Taming the roar of illegal ATVs

At a City Council hearing last week on her legislation to crack down on nuisance all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes in Philadelphia, it's not surprising that Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown had little trouble drawing a crowd.

Taming the roar of illegal ATVs

Council bill would enable cops to destroy seized ATVs and dirt bikes and avoid auctioning them.
Council bill would enable cops to destroy seized ATVs and dirt bikes and avoid auctioning them. JOSEPH KACZMAREK / FOR THE DAILY NEWS

At a City Council hearing last week on her legislation to crack down on nuisance all-terrain vehicles and dirt bikes in Philadelphia, it’s not surprising that Councilwoman Blondell Reynolds Brown had little trouble drawing a crowd.

With more than 20 people testifying during the four-hour session, there was a clear consensus that the city has yet to come up with a viable solution to curb the illegal and dangerous use of off-road recreational vehicles.

While many riders say the hobby keeps them out of trouble, their joyrides plague inner-city neighborhoods, posing a hazard to pedestrians, motorists, bicyclists, and the ATV riders themselves.

So it’s good to see that the councilwoman, on behalf of Mayor Nutter, is exploring whether to give police a stronger hand in seizing ATVs used illegally, along with stiffer fines of up to $2,000. Making any ATV not parked on private property subject to seizure would give cops a powerful tool in their periodic sweeps.

Should the city set aside land where nuisance ATVs could be ridden legally?
Yes, only way to get them off city streets
No, city doesn't have the space or funds to set up an ATV park
Yes, but only if riders are charged a fee
No, prefer tougher enforcement to keep these noisy and dangerous vehicles out of the city

Less feasible, though, is the proposal raised at the hearing that the cash-strapped city set aside parkland as an ATV park, where riding the vehicles would be legal.

Apart from the cost and difficulty in shielding nearby neighborhoods from the noise and dust, there’s the fact that, for too many riders who seek thrills from riding illegally, a park might not be attractive. Stronger enforcement offers the best hope of keeping city streets safer.

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