Philadelphia police cracking down on illegal dirt bike, ATV activity; city leader proposes park for riders

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- The spectacle of ATV and dirt bike riders on the streets is one many major northeast American cities have been trying to curtail, and Philadelphia is no exception.

No doubt you may have seen them on the streets. They're often in large packs, weaving in and out traffic.

"It's legal to ride these bikes. It's legal to own these bikes, but you are not allowed to have them on a city street," said Philadelphia Police sergeant Eric Gripp.

That last part clearly and often documented being seen blatantly disregarded by the operators.

Especially if the bikes are spotted on city sidewalks or parking spots.

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The city is cracking down on this long-standing problem some feel has grown worse during the pandemic.

"If there's somewhere in their neighborhood where they know these bikes or these vehicles are being stored let us know and we're going to come and we're going to confiscate them," Gripp added.

Police will not chase riders.

The risk to officers, the operators, and the public is much too great.

Even more so during the pandemic as many restaurants have now expanded their seating to include the outdoors.

"It really creates a hazardous situation," said Michael Harris, executive director of the South Street Headhouse District.

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Harris, like many neighborhood leaders, has been working with police to close off roadways, particularly on the weekends, in the hopes of keeping the large gatherings away.

"There's not the opportunity to race down the street or access the sidewalk illegally where they shouldn't be in the first place," said Harris.

That raises the question: where can they ride?

Recently city council member Allan Domb has paved the way to talks of a potentially sponsored ATV park in the city.

An idea his colleague, council member Mark Squilla, is open to as long as all parties agree to play by the rules.

"If you really do want something like this, then you have to help us, work with us, make people realize that they can go there and use these facilities, but they can't do it and get there though driving through the city street," Squilla said.

Talks about the proposed ATV park are expected to begin in October.
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