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Center City Residents Say City Not Doing Enough To Stop Illegal, Reckless ATVs, Dirt Bikes On Streets

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- A group of Center City neighbors is fed up by what they say is a lack of action on the part of the city when it comes to cracking down on illegal ATV and dirt bike riders on city streets.

It's an ongoing issue in many parts of the city, but Broad Street seems to be a favorite destination for these riders.

A video taken by Broad Street resident Tom Ayers on Sunday shows dozens of ATV, dirt bike and motorcycle riders bringing traffic to a halt at South Street. Most of them were riding in the opposite direction of traffic.

"They'll run red lights, they'll stop traffic so they can go by and often times these are dirt bikes and ATVs that don't have headlights," Ayers said. "They're not street legal."

Ayers and his neighbors say the problem has only gotten worse this summer with the pandemic. Eyewitness News has several videos from the past few months of riders operating recklessly in traffic.

"I saw a young woman with a stroller almost hit by an ATV on the South Street sidewalk," said Rick Piper, another Center City resident.

Piper, Ayers and other neighbors on South Broad Street formed a group to reach out to city officials and police because they feel not enough is being done to stop these illegal rides.

Councilman Mark Squilla, who represents part of Center City, is corresponding with the group and said police have a detail to specifically deal with this issue. They've seized some 100 ATVs and dirt bikes between two sweeps this summer, with plans to do more.

"If we send a message that it's not going to be tolerated, if you're on the streets with an illegal bike, it will be confiscated, people are a lot less likely, to maybe pay good dollars for this type of vehicle to have it taken away," Squilla said.

Neighbors hope the message gets out before an innocent person is hurt or even killed.

"Will it take a baby being crushed to death before the City of Philadelphia takes aggressive action to deal with this problem?" Piper asked.

When contacted about the issue, Mayor Jim Kenney sent this statement:

"The safety of pedestrians and motorists is paramount, and our administration takes this issue very seriously. Dirt bikes and ATVs are illegal to operate on Philadelphia streets. Operators can be ticketed, and vehicles confiscated. Anyone who observes this type of activity, or has information regarding planned 'ride-outs,' is encouraged to contact the Philadelphia Police Department by calling or texting 215-686-TIPS. Police have been successful in confiscating a significant number of dirt bikes, ATVs, and scooters as part of their efforts to cut down on this illegal activity and will continue to do so."

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