Philly residents hold emergency meeting over ATV, dirt bike enforcement: 'It's a menace'

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Residents from across Philadelphia met Wednesday evening to air concerns over the lack of enforcement of illegal ATV and dirt bike riders.

The Queen Village Neighbors Association hosted the event.

"We are working really, really prudently and diligently to stay on this one topic; it's a safety issue," said Eleanor Ingersoll, president of the Queen Village Neighbors Association.

She also says she's been joined by associations from all over the city who want the vehicles gone.

Philadelphia Deputy Commissioner Joe Dales says so far this year they've confiscated more than 200 of the illegal vehicles. But he adds they can only pursue riders under extreme circumstances.

"We can only pursue if it's a serious crime, if a person committed a forceable felony," said Dales.

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Residents from across Philadelphia are banding together to air concerns over the lack of enforcement of illegal ATV and dirt-bike riders.



First Assistant District Attorney Robert Listenbee says punishment reforms need to be made in order to prosecute those caught.

"If the police department arrests folks and they have the disorderly conduct charges, it's likely they're going to be released," said Listenbee.

Many residents say change needs to happen now. One resident, Ed Grose, is also the executive director of the Greater Philadelphia Hotel Association.

"This is an issue that needs to be cleaned up and needs to be cleaned up before we bring our guests back into the city. It's a menace. It's unsafe," said Grose.

Action News also spoke with a local restaurant owner who wouldn't go on camera in fear of retribution for speaking out.

"At one point we had somebody doing a burnout...it smoked everybody out of our business," said the owner.

RELATED: Residents calling on city to do more to stop illegal ATV and dirt bike riders
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The issue of ATV and dirtbike riders taking over major Philadelphia thoroughfares continues, especially as the weather gets nicer.



The tipping point for many residents came during the pandemic. Normally, riders are more prevalent in the summer but the pandemic created a time for them to come out more often and with less traffic on the roadways.

Many complain about the aggressive nature of the riders who travel in groups and do not follow basic traffic laws. They ride on sidewalks and against traffic on the roadways.

In March, a driver stopped at a light at Broad and Washington and was surrounded by a group of ATV riders.

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The incident happened 6 p.m. Tuesday on Broad Street, just a block south of Washington Avenue.



The victim, who was driving a car, thought he tapped one of the bikes and got out to apologize.

Instead, he was met with an aggressive crowd who attacked him with cinder blocks and destroyed his car.
One of the riders who appeared to be the main aggressor even went to grab a gun, but was talked out of using it by someone nearby. That man, who had an active warrant, was located the next day, arrested and charged.

John Teague, president of Central Manayunk Council and the Police District Advisory Council, agrees that the issue is city-wide. Teague lives in Manayunk where restaurants are relying on outdoor dining on a busy and narrow Main Street.



"The young people zoom up and down Main Street and Cresson Street and, as you know, Manayunk is a narrow block. When you have the buses coming up and down Main Street and Cresson Street, it's a potential for a serious accident," said Teague.

Residents in Center City say they fear the impact that the dangerous riders have on the elderly, young pedestrians and tourists. Neighbors in Hunting Park and North Philadelphia say they are worried riders zipping up and down the small streets will hit a child.

Additional concerns are the correlation between gun violence and the illegal riders, especially after the Broad and Washington incident.
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