PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A large group of dirt bike and ATV riders took over Columbus Boulevard over the weekend. The vehicles are illegal to operate on the streets of Philadelphia, and there are renewed calls for the city to crack down on the riders.
Critics say the vehicles are not only a nuisance, but they’re also extremely dangerous.
Dozens of dirt bikes, quads and ATVs rolled down North Broad Street Saturday afternoon in the shadow of police headquarters.
This past weekend, Center City and other neighborhoods were inundated with vehicles that police claim often aren’t street-legal.
A shooting Saturday night at 7th and South Streets involved an ATV rider, who fired on a security guard.
Sunday night, an unoccupied police patrol unit was surrounded by riders, and its windshield was smashed.
Councilman David Oh likened it to a “catch me if you can” scenario.
“I see the police, they’re not supposed to engage and they don’t engage,” Oh said, “and that leaves a lot of people very vulnerable.”
Oh, a Republican, fired off a tweet writing police are instructed by the mayor’s administration not to enforce the law.
He says that the alleged lack of police action escalates bad behaviors.
“The city cannot tolerate that and allow that to escalate,” Oh said, “and then, as you know, hundreds of vehicles surrounded a police vehicle and smashed windows.”
A spokesperson for Mayor Jim Kenney responded to Oh’s tweet saying it was simply untrue, telling CBS Philadelphia, “dirt bikes and ATVs are illegal to operate on city streets. Operators can be ticketed, and vehicles confiscated. Police have been successful in confiscating hundreds of dirt bikes, ATVs and scooters as part of their efforts to cut down on this illegal activity and will continue to do so.”
On Monday, District Attorney Larry Krasner said his office will move forward with charges if they’re provided adequate evidence from police.
“We don’t want to have a city where people are fearful and they are in danger of vehicular behavior that’s unacceptable,” Krasner said, “or you’re seeing confrontations that somehow relate to road rage or confrontation on the street.”
A Philadelphia Police Department spokesperson said its best tool in all of this is trying to keep these groups from getting together in large numbers in the first place, although once they are assembled, sometimes it’s a number of 100 riders to a single officer.