This might be the ultimate challenge in traffic calming. As the weather gets warmer, Hartford officials are girding for another battle against illegal street racing.
Police Chief Daryl K. Roberts said illegal street racing has been a "growing menace in our city for some years, disturbing the peace and wreaking havoc on certain thoroughfares during the late night hours."
Races take place in the North and South Meadows and often draw hundreds, even thousands, of spectators. (Video is posted on YouTube; search "Connecticut Street Racing.") The practice is hugely dangerous to participants, spectators and unsuspecting motorists.
It's also expensive. In 2008, the city spent $50,000 in road modifications such as speed bumps to deter racing, and $67,500 on police time.
The police have arrested spectators (it is illegal to be a spectator at an illegal race); made arrests for trespassing and interfering with police at races; and issued thousands of infractions, the chief said.
The legislature can give him another enforcement tool. State Rep. Hector Robles, who is also a Hartford police officer, has introduced a bill that would allow police to impound any vehicle involved in illegal racing for 30 days. The owner could recover the car after paying the storage fee.
Mr. Robles said the proposal is patterned on a California law that began as an ordinance in San Diego and resulted in a 70 percent drop in illegal street racing there. The bill should pass. The practice is simply too dangerous. It is another quality-of-life issue, like noise and litter, that must be addressed for sake of the city's peace and civility.
And if drag racing is so popular, why doesn't someone open a real track?
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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