By Cherri Gregg
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It’s illegal to ride four-wheelers or dirt bikes on city streets, yet the law hasn’t stopped scores of young people from taking part in the dangerous activity.
If you live in Northeast or South Philadelphia, you’ve probably heard the rumble of all-terrain vehicles.
“In the summertime when the weather gets warmer, we have a lot of ATV activity on our block,” says Natania Schaumberg. “It’s a quality of life issue and it’s a very uncomfortable thing. You don’t want to get hit and you don’t want them to get hurt.”
Schaumberg lives just outside of Kensington off of Lehigh Avenue and says she’s called the police after seeing teens popping wheelies her street, but the problem is police have a “no chase” policy since chasing can lead to major injuries to young ATV riders.
“They still encourage neighbors to call 9-1-1 so there’s a record of it,” she says. But there’s not much that they can actually do.”
“More and more they are in the news, of young people getting hurt or just the reckless behavior that upticks in the summer months,” says Councilwoman Bondell Reynolds Brown.
She says City Council is now calling for hearings.
“We need to strengthen what’s in place because what’s in place is not working,” she says. “We need to look at what other cities are doing in terms of best practices and see what we can adopt. Police are now handcuffed, if you will, with their no-chase policy and that is impacting why ATVs are out of control.”
Another issue affecting the uptick in use of ATVs is their availability. The Philadelphia Parking Authority sells them at weekly auctions — since 2007, the agency has sold 500 dirt bikes and ATVs, says PPA Deputy Executive Director Corrine O’Connor.
“They’re meant to be driven on ATV trails,” O’Connor says. “There’s no way they’re meant to be driven on city streets at all.”
Reynolds says Council will speak with police, the Philadelphia Youth Commission and other groups to determine best practices.
The hearings will likely take place this fall.