Opinion

In search of a menace

Like moths drawn to a flame, two and three-wheel menaces commonly known as all-terrain vehicles (ATV), mini-scooters and all varieties of home-built contraptions are zooming around the city waiting for a police cruiser to dash after them.

The Lynn police aren’t playing that game with pint-size pirates of the road. Instead, the department has wisely urged Lynn residents to report any sightings of ATVs or similar vehicles. The theory behind the request to the public is that undersized, potentially dangerous scooters and other machines pose a traffic safety hazard. Every driver and every pedestrian has a vested interest in keeping ATVs off the road.

It is easy to suggest the off-road vehicles are a warm weather pastime for otherwise-bored teenagers who want a quick motorized thrill between playing video games and hanging out. But applying a let-kids-be-kids approach to ATVs is unreasonable and dangerous in a city where 21st century traffic is compressed onto streets laid out in the 19th and even 18th centuries.

Between road rage reports, speeding, and drunk driving, the police have their hands full with keeping Lynn’s streets and state roads running through the city safe. There is no room for margin when it comes to off-road drivers deciding local byways are recreational speedways and race courses.

Police commanders have made the right decision to not play cat-and-mouse with ATV riders. Asking the public to keep an eye out for the offending vehicles and report sightings could save lives.

A proactive approach to traffic safety makes much more sense than waiting around for a child to be struck walking to school or a senior citizen to get hit crossing a street. An off-road vehicle operator pulled over after an accident will almost assuredly offer a police officer a blank stare in response to the question, “Do you have insurance?”

Asking the driving public and all residents to police the streets is a sound idea in general with summer around the corner. There is no room for apathy or feigned ignorance in a city that has seen recent murders and that is trying to do more to improve its economy and standard of living.

The city streets belong to everyone and anyone abusing the privilege of using them should be off the road.

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