With summer approaching, the streets in Philadelphia and Camden will come alive with the reckless and illegal roar of all-terrain vehicles.
Despite a stated resolve by Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey to use "smarter and more creative tactics to capture these violators," ATV scofflaws often seem to have the upper hand.
Indeed, earlier this month, a state forest ranger in Dauphin County was run down and injured by an ATV rider, state police reported. At least in that Weiser State Forest incident, police made an arrest, charging a 20-year-old Williamstown man.
Fortunately, Philadelphia so far has not seen a repeat of recent accidents: the death of a 22-year-old man riding without a helmet, and the confrontation between a father and a gang of ATV riders who ran him down in Kensington.
Those incidents, plus reports of ATV riders cruising city streets illegally, demonstrate the difficulty in enforcing rules against all-terrain vehicles in urban areas.
After the two ATV incidents here, Ramsey said police were reluctant to chase fast-moving vehicles out of a well-founded fear that a pursuit could injure officers, ATV riders, or bystanders.
On Saturday, law enforcement officials will meet with Camden residents in Pyne Point Park to appeal for help in tracking rogue riders. Cops also have smart strategies in mind, such as staking out gas stations and tracking ATVs from the air.
At the same time, Pennsylvania lawmakers could strengthen enforcement by approving bills granting park rangers authority to enforce ATV laws outside state parks and forests, and boosting property damage fines.