PHILADELPHIA police have successfully launched a new city law aimed at clearing illegal ATV riders and dirt-bikers out of public parks and streets, but "bike life" has proven persistently deadly regionally, with at least four fatal wrecks in the last 14 months.
Police impounded 26 ATVs and dirt bikes through Monday and issued 57 citations through May 7 (more recent figures are unavailable due to a paperwork lag) under a law first enforced April 6 that stiffens penalties for illegal riders, police data shows.
Riders tend to hit the streets in droves as the weather warms, many eschewing helmets as they speed through spots like the Belmont Plateau and Hunting Park.
Worries about bikers' dangerous maneuvers have proved justified: A dirt-biker left a 5-year-old in Hunting Park with a broken collarbone and ribs May 5 after he plowed into the child as he waited to get in his mother's car. The biker fled.
Still, the illegal pastime has been more dangerous for riders: Yazid Naseem, 13, of Wilmington, died Saturday morning after crashing his ATV into a tree and pole in Southwest Philadelphia; Marvin Ware, 25, of Overbrook, died April 4 after crashing his dirt bike into a trolley median in West Philadelphia; Eric Robinson, 28, of Belmont, died April 2 after ramming a dirt bike into a streetlight in Upper Darby; and Jermaine Alexander, 14, of Frankford, died in 2012 after T-boning a car while riding a dirt bike near his home.