FOX 29 Investigates: Kids on bikes weaving in and out of traffic

- They're young. They're talented and they like to showcase their skills on some of the most well-traveled roadways in Philadelphia.

Sometimes their daring displays come at the height of rush hour.

"They're doing something that can be extremely dangerous not only to themselves, but to other people if you're doing that on a city street," Philadelphia Police Lt. John Stanford explained.

These teenage, wheelie-popping, bike riders can been seen most days in Center City. Sometimes they gathered near city hall and take to Market or Broad Streets looking for fun and some thrills.

But, drivers and the police aren't so thrilled with their skills, their center lane escapades or their risky behavior in traffic.

"Dangerous. I understand that they're kids and kids do things that don't make sense to adults. Wer've all been there," Lt. Stanford explained.

FOX 29 showed video of the teenage riders to police. They watched as a handful of the teenage acrobats cruised Market Street recently. Popping wheelies and showing off, they ran red lights with car horns blaring, and just missed some cars crossing market.

None of the teens taking part were wearing a helmet.

"This is one of those things where they can either be killed themselves in terms of darting in and out of traffic like that or create an accident where somebody in a vehicle is killed as the result of an auto accident," Stanford elaborated.

A few blocks closer to City Hall they came screeching to a halt when try tried to cruise through one red light into oncoming traffic.

"You're not expecting somebody on a bike to come darting in front of you. If the operator of the vehicle is quick enough to respond. Maybe they avoid hitting that person. They may not avoid the person behind them rear ending them," Stanford explained.

Undeterred, they peddled on, cruising through the crowded cross walk just missing pedestrians crossing Market Street.

"Pedestrian versus a bike, it's going to be the bike that wins. So again, you have the probability that somebody can be seriously injured," Stanford said.

Police and other drivers are concerned that these daring and dangerous maneuvers could end in an accident that could harm not only the kids on these bikes, but drivers.

"Listen these kids are old enough to clearly know, a right from wrong and to clearly know this is not something they should be doing. In that video you see some of them laughing, so to some of them this is a game," Stanford said.

Experts say 250,000 children are injured every year in bike accidents nationwide, more than 60% of those accidents are in urban areas. And according to the most recent statistics, 60 percent of the bike riders killed each year in accidents were not wearing a helmet.

Police also worry that these teens on bikes could be the next generation of bikers illegally racing through traffic on local highways and city streets.

"They make their way to dirt bikes or ATVs and they begin doing those things, and again, you can't take away their skill level, their excitement in doing those things, but again it's not smart," Lt. Stanford explained.

Lt. Stanford also pointed out that the city has constructed places and parks for skateboarders and bikers. Police believe these young people would be safer, trying their tricks there.

"There are venues for you to do those things and we would encourage them, encourage their parents to seek out those venues and get their kids involved in that positive environment," Lt. Stanford said, "Again it's just a dangerous situation where somebody can be seriously hurt as a result of them being out there on these bikes doing this."

 

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