Will Philly’s new mayor try to curb street racing?

Four-wheelers and dirt bikes are a common occurrence on Philly streets, and some mayoral candidates want this change.

Clear drifting marks shown on the road at the  intersection of Spring Garden and N 23rd streets. (Ella Lathan/WHYY)

Clear drifting marks shown on the road at the intersection of Spring Garden and N 23rd streets. (Ella Lathan/WHYY)

Street racing in Philadelphia draws spectators and concern from residents alike. An assemblage of street cars drew overcrowding in the Spring Garden section of the city on March 11.

“We received the call at 10:48 p.m. Units were dispatched and no arrests were documented,” the Philadelphia Police Department stated.

Many residents and street racers captured videos and pictures of the chaos at 23rd and Spring Garden streets, and posted them to social media.

Residents in the nearby Fairmount neighborhood called 911 but allege the response was slow, according to WHYY News partner 6abc.

PPD confiscates bikes or four-wheelers because they are illegal to have in the city.

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WHYY News reached out to the Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) for comment. The PPD did not respond, as of the time of publication.

“It’s always so insane when they do this, it’s a fever dream, and I’ve seen them do this around City Hall,” Fairmount resident Emily Patten, 23, stated.

Mayor Kenney released a statement to promise ”they were working with the police department to ensure that these reckless incidents didn’t happen in the future.

How will the next mayor address the city’s street racing issue? Here’s how five mayoral candidates responded to WHYY News’ request for comment:

  • Former City Councilmember Derek Green: “This issue ties into the shortage of police in our City to consistently monitor these issues. Neighbors claimed that the response time was too slow — with an adequately staffed Police Department, we can have an effective motor vehicle task force to monitor social media for these types of events, and track the garages and storage locations for where these vehicles are kept. Through my experiences and relationships as National President of Democratic Municipal Officials and President of the Pennsylvania Municipal League, we know these policies have been effective in other cities, and we will bring these best practices back to Philadelphia.”
  • Former City Councilmember Helen Gym: “The Parkway for too long has been treated as a racecourse rather than the central thoroughfare connecting neighborhoods and neighbors in the heart of the city that intersection on Spring Garden is poorly planned and needs review, but I have also made clear that Philadelphia needs a leader with a transformative vision for young adults that disincentives reckless driving and encourages safe recreation and stable employment. As Mayor, I will ensure that our streets are safe, our young people are supported, our 911 response times are shortened, and police officers respond to community needs so that these incidents can be swiftly addressed should they occur.”
  • Former City Controller Rebecca Rhynhart: “Our city has allowed people to drag race, gather in large crowds and do donuts in our street for far too long. This behavior is not only a quality-of-life issue but an issue of safety as well. We don’t only need a police response; we need a response from our operating departments to discourage this behavior.  The police can identify the intersections where this behavior is most prevalent, but they cannot prevent the behavior; they can only intervene after it has disturbed our residents. The streets department can implement preventative traffic calming measures that will make the intersection less viable for the activity. As mayor I will break down the silos that prevent our city from providing the best service to our residents, allowing better collaboration between departments such as streets and the police.”
  • Former City Councilmember David Oh: “I am very frustrated by the street races because it has been an ongoing issue, and the city is contributing to the problem by not enforcing the law. When the city allows these types of violations you get more consequences. Basically, saying you can do in Philadelphia what you can’t do in your hometown like drifting and donuts. There is a reason why we have so much murder, there is a reason we have so much crime. People should not have to call multiple times, or wait 45 minutes for someone to pick up the phone,” Councilman Oh explained, “you are counting on someone to answer your emergency call. That is inexcusable. Residents are prisoners of crime, it’s like you’re not even living in the United States, we owe the people of the city simple resources and services.”
  • Former City Councilmember Allan Domb: “It’s time to get illegal vehicles off the streets of Philadelphia. Period. As mayor, I’ll direct the police to confiscate illegal vehicles and fine those who store them. And I’ll increase penalties for illegal riders. Enough is enough.”

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