Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Reppin' that 609

Every now and then I plug "Trenton, NJ" into You Tube's search engine just to see what pops up. I found this link (among others) last week and was, well, kind of peeved. I grew up in Monmouth County and my father rode around on a registered off-road vehicle -- I repeat off-road for emphasis as he did ride off the road. My sister and her family still live in the area, on a farm, and I know they enjoy riding their off-road vehicles (again, all registered, and operated off the road) periodically, too. So, I don't have any kind of particular hatred for quads or dirtbikes, even though I don't have any desire to ride around on one either. Maybe I'm uptight or old-fashioned, but I think it's really annoying and disrespectful that kids/young adults are riding them on the streets and alleys of our neighborhoods.

You can see at least one kid's face really well in that You Tube video. But I'm sure he's still riding around all over his neighborhood.

Several of our neighbors have reported our community's ATV problem at our CPAC meetings, even offering specific addresses of where a local group of dimwits garage their off-road bikes. But every day, we still hear the deafening sounds of quads and dirtbikes riding around and around and around the blocks in this neighborhood; the riders are never wearing helmets. It's a matter of time before one of them causes an accident. I'm also concerned about the other people, animals, and property in the vicinity. The noise is unneighborly, to say the least, and I'm quite sure that most of the bikes are unregistered.

Last week, I watched a kid come zooming down my alley on a dirtbike, with an audience of three other knuckleheads cheering him on, right out into the street, barely missing a passing car. We're two blocks from the police station, by the way. Sheesh.

So why does this continue? We're told that the police won't engage in a chase because a rider could get injured. But why wasn't that garage searched? Why don't the kids get busted when they gas up on weekend mornings? How many of the dirtbikes in this city are obtained and maintained legally, anyway? Any?

I'm not interested in trashing the police, but sometimes they're not so helpful; I am aware that they have an extremely difficult job here, not only in their duties to serve and protect, but also because there's a nasty schism in the police department itself. I do have opinions and sympathies on that, but frankly, the whole thing disgusts me because I don't think it helps solve problems here in the hood. Also not helpful: dispatchers who say, "well, the police have better things to do in this city than chase kids on dirtbikes," or others who say, "Well, as long as they're wearing helmets..." They're never wearing helmets, I mean, COME ON. And if these quality-of-life issues are not enforced, it just continues to erode the fabric of our neighborhoods.

It just gets me some days, the lack of enforcement/involvement on the part of the city, as well as the apathy of many residents. Videos like the one above, floating around on the internet, show a totally lawless side of Trenton. It says, "Are you a criminal, and need a place to live? Consider Trenton! We're the place to live if you're sick and tired of following society's pesky laws!!"

I'm sure my brother-in-law has grown a little tired of the trails on his property, so maybe he and the kids would like to "represent our area code" with us and do a little urban trailblazin' here, since no one will stop them. I'll see if he can bring several bikes over; maybe you'd like to borrow one too. We can shoot footage of each other and post it to You Tube and we can show the world how freakin' awesome it is to live in Trenton!! REPRESENT!

Today, I'm thinking about the family who owns Trenton's John Henry's restaurant; their son, Anthony, was killed yesterday on a motorized scooter in Hamilton. He wasn't wearing a helmet. It isn't really impossible to compare a suburban kid riding a dangerous, illegal contraption, to urban kids riding around on illegal motorbikes on the street, since there are a lot of similarities: both are hard to see by motorists; riders on both tend to disregard the rules of the road, putting themselves and other people at risk for injury; and all of the riders have parents who will mourn their loss. So poor Anthony Henry's story is a pretty good argument curtail the use of off-road vehicles driven by helmetless kids.

Is anyone with the ability to help listening? Can this happen? Or are we gonna wind up like Baltimore?

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